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Families talking about money

(13 Posts)
NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 13:37:28

Why is this so bloody hard?

I have recently started looking after my mum's money. She's in her 80s.

She has sold her house so decisions need to be made about what to do with the money.

I want her to make her own decisions, but my mothers default position is to say nothing and look miserable, so I feel like a horrible bully every time I ask her any questions about what she wants me to do.

It hasn't helped that my only sibling has been pressing for a huge and unsuitable investment idea. He's dropped it now but for six months its been awful. My mum never liked the idea but encouraged him by making positive noises about it rather than saying how she felt. (My fear is that she does this to me as well).

My relationship with my sibling has broken down, I think irrevocably, because I eventually forced him to make a proper proposal to stop him petitioning her privately. Cue huge row. No proper resolution.

I don't know much about money so I've been getting advice (eg about possible long term care planning), looking into various options, analysing what she needs now and might need in the future. I set up a meeting with an advisor but she hardly said anything through the meeting, and she made it look as if I had pressurised her into setting up the LPA so I felt like the enemy rather than someone who is trying to help.

Other members of the family are saying she can make her own decisions, so I'll get no support if I do anything without her agreement. But she won't tell me what she wants. Even when I am 100% sure about what she wants, I can't get her to articulate Yes or No.

I have suggested that she talks through what she wants with another trusted family member who can help her articulate what she wants but she hasn't responded to that, either.

She is clearly under massive stress about this. Her health is suffering. And I am too (have had to take time off work, bursting into tears). I feel traumatised.

TeenyW123 Sat 15-Feb-14 14:00:48

I'm an attorney in waiting for my dad. He's compos mentis and apart from being lazy and deciding how properly to invest his money and get below the IHT threshold, he's ok at making decisions. They could be a bit better probably. I mention this so you see I sort of know where you come from.

How about Age Concern? Do they have advisors?

I invested in an IHT planning book from Tax Cafe. Some good tips in it but because of dad's laziness nothing has been auctioned.

I think it depends on whether you want to make sure her money is managed better for IHT purposes, or whether she needs to eke out an existence from a pension. The sibling's inappropriate investment suggests the former. Is that right?

TeenyW123 Sat 15-Feb-14 14:01:20

Actioned.

oldgrandmama Sat 15-Feb-14 14:06:52

I've given both my (middle aged) kids my Power of Attorney, in case I become incapable of making proper decisions (for example, if I develope Alzeimers or dementia). Has your mother done this, OP? I imagine, from your posts, that she hasn't. It is a good idea, and you'd need a solicitor to help you with this. But bear in mind she can only award a P of A if she's of sound mind.

Well done, by the way, for not letting your brother talk your mother into some questionable investment.

NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 14:25:51

Ah yes, the IHT question! My brothers plan was ill-thought out because it tied the money up, it was risky, and costs could have escalated. She needs to keep funds available, even if the return is lower.

Any mention of IHT makes things worse, but I am being advised to talk about this with my mum. Doing so makes me feel grabby as fuck. It does make sense as long as she has enough available for her own needs.

However, if she won't make a decision I can't make it for her, legally or morally.

Its the emotional side of things I can't manage. Feeling like I'm hurting her and making her anxious, even over tiny decisions like cancelling or renewing a subscription. She just can't seem to make a simple decision. Then when she gets me on my own she'll complain that other people are being bossy.

I am pretty sure she tells people that 'NMFP did this, NMFP told me to do that' and I'll get a hard stare next time I see that person. Such as when I got her to surrender her car and driving licence after being on a death drive with her - seriously it was only a matter of time before someone was hurt - but she's telling people she only needed new glasses.

NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 14:26:35

I already have POA. I look after all her transactions.

ImperialBlether Sat 15-Feb-14 14:49:07

Where does she live at the moment?

I don't understand the situation, sorry. Are you and she trying to decide where she should live and how her money should be invested, or is it that you're trying to work out how to spend money on a daily/weekly basis?

KouignAmann Sat 15-Feb-14 15:04:09

NMFP you sound like a loving child wanting to do the best for your mum. And her indecisiveness is the reason why you have taken over. So although you need to consult her wishes there will be times when you have to make a judgement based on knowing her well and what her values have been in the past rather than the things she says or doesn't say now. If she had lost the ability to speak that is what you would be doing. She is losing the ability to express an opinion and it is not obvious to the rest of the family how this is affecting her.
I think you should take advice from experts and make a plan then just plough on.
It is hard feeling disapproval from the family and falling out with your brother but your DM chose you to manage her affairs for a reason and that is because she trusted you.

NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 15:07:05

She lives with a relative, on a permanent basis.

Day to day stuff is fine.

The relative is also elderly, though, so although it is working out very well for now we need to keep funds available for an alternative home or care in case things change.

NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 15:32:07

Thanks, KouignAmann. You made me cry for a second!

The trouble is that she didn't really choose me. I had to ask her to set things up and she was reluctant at first.

I think the nub of the problem is that my mum doesn't look at a decision on its merits but sees everything as a choice between what 'x' wants and what 'y' wants. I think this is why this feels so intensely personal for me.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Sat 15-Feb-14 18:22:03

But you're in a similar situation and reacting in a similar way—torn between doing what you feel is best for her and worrying what other people will think.

It isn't going to get any better, if she were ever going to be able to cope with decisions that time has passed, so you will have to bite the bullet and make the decisions for her. You can't win whatever happens if she is going to be undermining your decisions by agreeing with other people who are finding fault with you.

But eventually not-deciding becomes a decision and quite possibly not the right one.

I had a similar situation with my DM: tried to talk her into seeing sense and moving house as she lives in a top-floor flat and has mobility issues . But she simply isn't able to cope with the prospect of moving and keeps saying she has to redecorate first, or will think about it in a couple of years. That's been going on for ten years now.

You obviously care about her very much and will make decisions that you believe are in her best interest. She can't ask for more than that.

NMFP Sat 15-Feb-14 18:43:55

Thanks, Lesser. I think the problem for me is that she expresses doubts to third parties rather than directly, so a simple decision gets whipped up into a storm with everyone talking at cross-purposes.

I hope your mum is ok in her top-floor flat.

KouignAmann Mon 17-Feb-14 08:04:28

I can relate to that Lesser as my DPs live in a huge country house full of clutter that is getting too much for them. We have discussed them downsizing to a suitable bungalow in the village but DF just says he can't face dealing with it and I will have to clear the house when he is gone. Sigh!
Not making a decision is actually just passively making a non decision isn't it? The result is the same but without the discussion.

NMFP if your DM is worrying about what X or Y want her to do or what they would think perhaps the "cracked record" technique will work. You just take a reassuring phrase such as " Doing this makes sense for you Mum" and repeat ad nauseam. Can be repeated to well-meaning relatives as well, and stops you going round and round the loop having conversations again.

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