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Sh*t...my marriage could collapse AND I could fall out with family over this

(223 Posts)
LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:09:02

I've been on here once before ages ago regarding this matter. I can't remember my former ID for this. I've had a name change since.

2 years ago, we bought a 4 bedroom house. We have 3 young kids ranging from teen years to baby. The verbal agreement was that my mother, who lives in the States, would sell up and move in with us giving us a proportion of the proceeds from the sale of her bungalow to help us pay down our mortgage and allow us all to stay in this house where she'd be looked after until her death. The idea is to never have to put her in a home. We made a commitment and over the years, mom's stays with us have gotten longer and longer. This last time, she stayed one year.

It's not easy, but it's not terrible either. We get along very well, husband especially loves mom, possibly more than me because I get the brunt of the carer stuff. Her mobility is reduced and she is 80 and in not such good health, so this is not easy, but she's not completely immobile yet and can still bathe herself and walk up and down the stairs. She's a warm, loving person but never, ever does anything for herself. Her hobby is me. I find this draining at times, but she's always been this way. I knew what I was taking on when we offered her to live with us. We did not make this decision lightly.

The thing is, in order for this to work in the house where we live, we need a proportion of mom's money from her house sale. She agreed to this, giving my brother a smaller proportion so that he has 'something'. This was discussed and agreed between mom and me/hubby two years ago. She has never discussed it much since. She went home to the states to stay with my brother 4 weeks ago and rang me the other day to say she's coming back in July. We're not ready to have her back. But basically, the long and short of it is, my brother and his wife- who have been living a marvellous champagne lifestyle (they are older with grown kids- this is his second wife, married two years)- are broke, skint, and now have to downsize into a flat and send my mother back here to stay with us (we so needed the breather after having her here so long and we anticipated she'd go back to stay with my brother for several months. That's how it's been the past 5 years.

My husband's stance is, no she can't come back until she deals with real life. She can't keep coming back and forth, living out a suitcase while everyone supports her financially. She needs to go home and decide what to do with the house she hasn't slept in for over 5 years. She just goes back and forth between my brother's in the States and my home here in the UK. She has left her house to rot. But in the past year my brother has been frantically doing up her house, without involving me in any aspect. I have no idea what's happened to mom's contents. She won't discuss her house with me at all other than to say, my brother is dealing with everything. He has now written to me to say that he is broke and downsizing. He can't have mom stay with him anymore and he's sending her back to me and renting her house out. He says she can live with us and live off the rent from her home.

Financially, this doesn't work for us because the idea was that we'd be able to pay down our house with mom's help and in return, support and house her until her death. She wouldn't need to pay for anything extra while living with us. She would not live like a tenant, paying a portion of the bills or anything. Life stuff would be on us. My husband has become terribly pushy about mom's situation. Basically, we have to sell if she doesn't come in on this house with us financially. And although she agreed to this verbally, I did warn my husband that while my brother did not agree to this, my mom would wax and wane, which is totally what's happened. Basically, she wants to make me happy and my brother happy. The long and short of it is that she keeps saying, "Yes, I'll invest with you" but has made no motion to do so. She does come and stay but hasn't shown us that she wants to 'live' here, if that makes sense. My brother does not want her to sell and give us any proceeds. He wants her to rent out her property and live with us but feels we should be able to support her without proceeds from her house. We would not have bought this house if we did not think she was going to invest with us. We wanted to buy a smaller house on the same road and that was the house we were going to be gunning for. But when mom said she would live with us and offer a lump sum to help with this, we made sure we secured this house. Everything would be put into place to protect her investment. We would make sure that if anything happened to my husband or to me or if we divorced, mom's investment would be protected.

Me? I don't want any of it anymore. It's all so messy. On the one hand, I feel like we're just sniffing around my mother's money and on the other hand, I see my hubby's point. She did say she'd like to sell her house and give us some not all of her proceeds in order to allow us to keep this house where she too can live. The bottom line is, we bought this house thinking she would go in with us on it because she wanted to. Now she just doesn't want to talk about it. She wants to come and stay but not discuss her future at all. The whole year she was here, we couldn't talk about it. We will have to sell and downsize because we can't reasonably sustain this large property without her help. This leaves her a bit stranded. But at the same time, it will make my brother happy because he did not- and he made this clear- not mom investing with us. He did not explain why or what his issues were, no matter how many email exchanges we've had. He just has made it clear that he doesn't want her investing with us. I don't know what he thinks is best for mom.

Mom is now very cagey about what she wants. I said to my husband that it's like we're communicating in Braille. We're all very civilised and nice to each other. Not one harsh word has been spoken. But behind each other's backs I am certain we all feel frustrated. Mom wants to live with us but I don't think she wants to invest with us. I would LOVE to house my mom for free. I hate needing money from her to make this work, I simply hate thus situation. It's become entirely about money.

My brother has taken over the refurbishment of her house completely and he ignores any emails I write discussing her home or her plans. He'll respond to my jokey emails where we discuss superficial stuff. But with regards to mom's finances or future, the wall goes up. And as I said, mom wants to live with us without discussing anything financial.

I feel like I'm the bad guy here. We have not pushed mom to sell. We have not pushed her to make a decision. But it's sort of crunch time for us. We have to decide how to manage a property we bought thinking she was coming in with us on it. I've told her not to come in July. I've told her we need to decide the way forward with our house. The possibility of selling is very real. As of April 2016, my husband will have a £15,000 income drop as well. So this came as a shock only two weeks ago.

Please tell me if I am unreasonable. I cannot see the forest for the trees and I need some honest advice and opinions, even if I come out looking bad.

My husband is angry. My brother's emails are becoming curt. And I feel like I'm just trying to avoid a huge family bust up. My mom is footloose and fancy free. I don't think she's given anything much thought. And I feel a bit angry with her for this. It's all about "Where will I go now? I want to avoid the California summer. I think I'll come back to England." But she's not understanding that she's dealing with children who have their own worries and need to make long-term plans with or without her on board. Thank you in advance.

code Thu 18-Jun-15 09:16:52

I think you just need to say to your mum it's crunch time. We have to sell up now unless you move in permanently. And if you do we will need you to jointly invest in this property as agreed. If not we'll be downsizing. Is your brother stalling because he thinks you'll be getting a larger share of the inheritance ultimately? I think you need to force a conversation and stop letting your mum stall or change the subject.

LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:20:30

Thanks for the reply to my obscenely long post. I do appreciate the time you've taken to read it. I will be getting a larger proportion by 100k, so yes, I think this eats at him.
I will have that discussion with my mother for sure.
There will be fallout which will make the experience a bit of a marred one. And I think my mother knows that there is a possibility my brother will speak to neither one of us again. At least that's the feeling I get.

PrimalLass Thu 18-Jun-15 09:23:13

We have not pushed mom to sell. We have not pushed her to make a decision. But it's sort of crunch time for us. We have to decide how to manage a property we bought thinking she was coming in with us on it.

You are not remotely unreasonable. You need to email them this bit, in 72 point text. No investment = no room at the inn.

sebsmummy1 Thu 18-Jun-15 09:25:54

I honestly think you need to put your house on the market. It's obvious your brother will not allow your Mum to sell the house and give you a lump sum. I think your Mum is just keeping her head down as she knows the shot is going to hit the fan whatever way she jumps.

cuntycowfacemonkey Thu 18-Jun-15 09:27:00

I think part of the problem is you keep calling it an investment for your mum and that's not really what it is. Basically it is payment for board, lodgings and care or early inheritence (which is fine if that's what you agree) when she dies I presume her "investment" won't be split between you and her brother.

I think the time has come for a more candid and forceful conversation with your mum. You have to lay it on the line that you cannot keep the house and look after her without financial assistance. It is a big risk though to buy a house you can't afford on the basis of money that may come your way at some point in the future.

LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:33:16

I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that selling will be the best option. But my husband is fuming over this, just fuming. I am disappointed, but to be honest, buying a property that was entirely dependent on my mother's investment always bothered me. But my dearly beloved hubby, great guy that he is, was rather 'set' on this happening. I warned him that my mom is not always the most reliable person.
I get hubby's point: uprooting again, losing money on moving, stamp duty, etc. He's angry because for him, there was a purpose behind buying this particular house and he feels my mom has been dishonest. I don't think she intends to be dishonest. I think she just wants to put her head in the sand, as you mentioned, Seb.

popalot Thu 18-Jun-15 09:37:14

The bottom line is you can't afford the house without her investment. Make that clear to your brother and mother. Then sell up if she doesn't invest, no hard feelings, just facts. Your brother might feel like he's in a similar position - he's had to downsize too and is saying he can no longer afford to look after mum. She's going from you to him. She's treating you both the same way, neither of you are getting any investment from her.

Where is she going to live if she can't live with either of you? Is she going to go into care? If that is the case, she will need to sell her bungalow anyway. SO you need to be straight and present her with the choices; 1. Sell up and invest in both you and brother, so you can both get bigger properties to house her 50/50. 2. Sell up and invest in you alone, and she will have to live with you from now on. 3. Sell up and go into care. 4. Stay in her bungalow and try and get care at home (only if she can afford it).

LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:37:57

Investment sounds less 'grabby'. And I fear so much that I come across as grabby. So the 'investment' would be £200K to us, £100 to brother. Her monthly income wouldn't be touched by anyone. That's hers and if there's say extra from the house sale, that's hers too. 200K is what we need to make it work. We have paid 500k into the house and owe 350k. 200k would come from mom and assure her our full support for the remainder of her life.

RaptorInaPorkPieHat Thu 18-Jun-15 09:38:06

Is it possible (I'm sorry to suggest it) that your brother is thinking of moving into your mothers house?

It maybe that while she's still mobile, she's reluctant to give up that little nugget of independence even though she's not using it, and she doesn't realise how much pressure this is causing you financially. You need to be more open and frank about what needs to happen.

cuntycowfacemonkey Thu 18-Jun-15 09:39:26

Well it's all well and good your husband being fuming but like you said he doesn't bare the brunt of the caring side of this set up does he? He does rather sound like he's been after the money all along rather than being genuinely interested in your mothers long term living arrangements and maybe that is coming across to your mum and brother a bit?

JohnFarleysRuskin Thu 18-Jun-15 09:40:14

Your mum is the problem here. She's promising different things to both of you. And has she really promised you loads more than him? Of course he's got the hump then...

I would email both of them - unless we stick to the original agreement, we have no choice but to downsize to a small house - unfortunately, this will make it very difficult to host you/Mum in the future.

LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:40:22

popalot thanks so much. I am going to write those options down and present them to her. Please forgive me... all of this should just occur to me. I honestly have lost all rationale and objectivity here. So I truly appreciate all of the advice.

NotDavidTennant Thu 18-Jun-15 09:41:11

To be honest, your family dynamic sounds a bit dysfunctional, in that you're all being nice and civilized on the surface, but underneath there's this huge elephant in the room that none of you wants to directly talk about. I don't see how the situation can be resolved without an open discussion between yourself, your mother and your brother (and not an email exchange, an actual verbal discussion where you all put your cards on the table).

littlejessie Thu 18-Jun-15 09:42:44

Be gentle though, when you speak to her. Sounds like a very difficult position for her to be in as she is obviously being pulled in different directions between you and your brother.

Very sad that you and your brother are likely to fall out about this. Perhaps that's one reason she is avoiding discussing the situation? Hoping it doesn't come to an unpleasant head?

There's also the fact that you are clearly both preparing for her death, and how her estate will be carved up.

I can honestly understand why your mum is being evasive, it's a hugely emotive and potentially explosive scenario. But you need to know where you stand, and YANBU for wanting to have an open conversation about it all.

Would there be a possibility that your mum might agree to sell her home and just split it 50/50 with you and your brother? Or split it three ways so you each receive an advance on your inheritance and she still has some of her own money? It must all feel so mercenary. I'm sure the plan to benefit you and your husband to the tune of 100k more than your brother must factor in your brother now shepherding your mum in relation to her property. Why was this only discussed with you and your husband, and not your brother?

lordStrange Thu 18-Jun-15 09:43:32

Well, your brother is bound to be miffed at losing 100k of the inheritance. Even if your mum does invest in your house, he will kick up an enormous stink when she dies. And will you be certain of the contents of her will, her estate?

I'm sorry but I think moving and downsizing are your only reasonable action here.

Hullygully Thu 18-Jun-15 09:44:41

You need to deal with this RIGHT NOW or you will be royally stuffed. If I were you I would get on a plane to the states and see exactly what is going on with brother, mother and the house. I'm not suggesting there are evil doings afoot...but you really need to get in there and see what's what.

LionsNtigersNbearsOHMY Thu 18-Jun-15 09:46:10

To be fair JohnFarley she's offered us more because we're housing her and brother does not want to do that. He has made it clear that he does not want to house our mom. I have lived with and nursed a terminally ill father for two years (that was 13 years ago). And the time will come when mom will need a lot of hands on care. So I know the drill and I know what can come down the pike. Hopefully she will never go down the route dad went down. But part of getting a larger proportion is to offset the fact that we're housing her- this costs money and we're looking after her and taking on the brunt of this. She would no longer go back and forth between brother and me. She would live here full time and perhaps visit brother from time to time for two weeks to a month out of the year or more if they both wish. But my promise to my brother was to take the brunt of things. That was the idea behind the financial figures presented. Also that is how much we needed to make it work. Hope I don't sound defensive. Just offering background info.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Thu 18-Jun-15 09:46:50

I think popalot's got it. She has a choice to make. If I were you I would hope for the 50/50 totally equal option and make it clear it has to be totally equal. So £150,000 instead of £200,000 for you but alot more free time.

Hullygully Thu 18-Jun-15 09:48:49

The warning bells for me are brother doing up the house and being cagey about it. Wait till he tells you he's invested loads of time and money in it and deserves the larger portion. He's broke <bitter experience>

DinosaursRoar Thu 18-Jun-15 09:50:00

I would call your DB - not e-mail and ask him to arrange an estate agent to go round to value your mother house to put in on the market. Make it clear that you are also going to sell up and downsize unless she is able to put in some capital via selling the house, if she wants to rent her house out and rent somewhere, it won't be at your house. That is not an option and you'll have to look at care homes. Also be careful, how long does she have to live after she moves in with you for the money she's put in not to count for inheritant tax in the US?

JohnFarleysRuskin Thu 18-Jun-15 09:51:51

No I don't think you've done anything wrong at all, but yes, like others, I think your brothers 'sudden change in circumstances' is going to be affecting his attitude. If you could I would try and front it out with both of them present. You need clarity.

NB. We have no clarity either. We also have a family dynamic that is dysfunctional, in that you're all being nice and civilized on the surface, but underneath there's this huge elephant in the room that none of you wants to directly talk about. It is miserable.

DopeyDawg Thu 18-Jun-15 09:52:02

popalot has the options very clearly.

you have to say to your mum:
look, sorry, we have to downsize and cant host you for free any more
(no different to your brother after all).

What does mum want? Only she can decide what she wants to do with her money. I don't think you are being mercenary, but you cant cut your cloth on promises that are not materialising, esp if you are facing a £ drop next year too.

iamnotaponceyloudperson Thu 18-Jun-15 09:53:57

Oh ok, so it looks like the care will come to you but its so important to present the options briefly and clearly (no rambling) and then they can both make their choice.

ImperialBlether Thu 18-Jun-15 09:54:53

I agree with the previous poster who said she thought your brother was doing up the house to live in it himself.

Could your mum not sell her house, give 50% to you and 50% to your brother now and move between you both for six months at a time? Having her there full time could become a real strain (you said you needed a long break after she stayed with you for the year) and if she became ill you might have to give up work etc.

Bear in mind you can never promise a parent they can live with you until they die; you might become ill, you might divorce and need to work full time when she needs more care than you can give, she may suffer from dementia.

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