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Elderly parents

I'm just the DIL, does it matter what I think?

9 replies

sillylily · 24/03/2013 21:22

MIL is physically frail and has been going slowly 'doolally' for years. Sibling-in-law moved into the 'Ancestral Family Home' a couple of years ago with whole younger family (house bought on the cheap ) but now finds MIL is getting to be a bit much to handle. MIL was delighted with arrangement at the time as all she ever wanted was to be part of family with grandchildren. Now Sibling-in-law fancies downsizing without MIL plans to sell and keep house profits. MIL is now too scatty for her opinion to be relied on and no one else in the family seems to be speaking up for MIL. DP worried but doesn't want to create problems with his siblings, being very flakey at a time I think he should be stronger.
What do I say? Or do I shut up? not natural to me! Help!

OP posts:
EggsPressYourself · 24/03/2013 21:25

Does sibling-in-law have power of attorney? If he does, then he clearly has a certain amount of power (but I'm no lawyer so I'm not sure what, and there surely must be laws in place to prevent someone with PoA to abuse that position?)

If he does not have PoA however, he will ot have authority to sell house and keep profits as it is ot his. Does MIL have a will?

As I say, I not a legal professional, but if you think there are any underhand dealings, it may be best to get some legal advice.

sillylily · 24/03/2013 21:40

at the moment there is no PoA but the brothers and sisters are acting on this, planning to hold joint PoA. Clearly BIL needs access to day to day finances but I am worried that there could be conflict of interest between best interests of BIL's younger family and my understanding of wishes of MIL, particularly regarding place of residence. She has no substantial savings now she has sold the home to BIL.

OP posts:
sillylily · 24/03/2013 21:44

I should add that we live miles away. We were sort of relying on BIL to do the decent thing having moved in on MIL. Live and learn!

OP posts:
EggsPressYourself · 24/03/2013 22:54

Glad you are getting PoA sorted. Horrible situation for everyone - not least your MIL.

Good luck.

Needmoresleep · 25/03/2013 09:16

This will be quite complicated and your Ils etc will need to take specialist advice.

As I understand it, and I am in the process of sorting out my mothers affairs and my dads estate, both enthusiastic Building Society carpet baggers, seekers of the best ISA rates and Buy-to-Let purchasers, so lots of capital, but all over the place, and with my mother having no knowledge of what she has:

  1. Your MIL can make regular gifts from income, or gifts from capital on special occasions (birthdays, weddings, Christmas etc) without recipients attracting tax. However other gifts are taxable.

2. The POA accounting has very clear guidelines about transparency and need to be kept quite separate for any Attorney's own finance. (My own nightmare as we ended up paying for a huge amount in the middle of our elderly parent crisis so she could move directly into a sheltered flat from convalescent care and before POA came through - my reward when the crisis is over will be to spend a couple of weeks trying to sort it all out so my accountant has a good record in case anyone ever asks, and so we can do her tax return.)

3. The requirements in terms of capability for being able to sign a POA are lower than that for signing a contract to sell a house etc. It would be the duty of a good solicitor to ensure that your MIL does understand what she is doing, and that any sale is in her best interests. Otherwise I assume they could be sued by anyone, eg an heir, disadvantaged by the transaction.

4. There may be potential Capital Gains and Inheritance Tax advantages in looking at her gifting the property within three years of it ceasing to be her main residence, but probably in trust, eg probably only worth faffing around with if the property is worth well in excess of IHT limits. I dont know what the impact on capital gains will be of the fact it has also been your ILs main residence. Also I think there is some requirement that it needs to be in your MILs interest, and she must be capable of making the decision, and for IHT purposes she may need to live for a further 7 years for such a gift to be valid. There may also be scope to reduce her assets so they are not swallowed up in means tested care costs, but any Local Authority worth their salt might then look at recent transactions and may well have the right to challenge them.

A few disclaimers to the above, eg I am not a lawyer and what I know or don't know is based on what I have come across in the last three months. The message is that it is complicated. If there are major transactions involving capital not income the Inland Revenue or Local Authority could well be interested. If transactions have taken place which are not in your MILs best interests Courts can get involved. However if the property is worth a lot then looking at keeping Capital Gains and and IHT liabilities to a minimum is worth looking at.

My advice would be for joint Attorneys to sit down and work out a future care plan for your MIL. Buying a flat in a good extra sheltered housing scheme might be an option. Research the costs of top up care and a good quality nursing home. (Two hours of a carer coming in each day to help with medications etc is £800 a month, private nursing care can be well over £1000 a week, my mother's service charges for extra sheltered housing are £500 a month, fine as they include 24 hour warden cover, a handyman, a reception etc, but quite a lot when meal and laundry costs are also added on.) Make sure there is enough to see her through before even talking about any gifts. Then discuss future roles and responsibilities and acknowledge that the sibling who is closest may be expected to pick up the lions share of the burden, and that it is a burden. The POA document can make provision for payment, eg if your ILs retain some of the care duties. Then buy some solicitor time and check that everything is kosher both from a POA responsibility and tax wise, with your MIL as far as she is able confirming she is content.

In short, focus on securing your MILs needs, but do acknowledge if some siblings are picking up more of the burden.

Sorry it is a long post. I could have written a much longer one about my own sibling issues, but am too frustrated. All I can say is that caring is really hard work, both physically and emotionally and it would be much easier if my own sibling would acknowledge this, rather than simply fret about the estate.
whataboutbob · 25/03/2013 13:55

Who does the ancestral home belong to? If it's MIL's then surely they can't do that. And even if they prevail upon her to sell, and use the proceeds to finance their new home, Mr Taxman will be very interested in the house profits if MIL dies within the next 7 years- he'll want his cut. Hope this makes sense.

sillylily · 25/03/2013 14:52

Thanks everyone, very useful and much food for thought.
MIL sold her home to her son when he moved in about 3 years ago, for much less than market rate. I really don't care about that arrangement except now the home is being sold and MIL has nowhere to go. I think the expectation is that the wider family will chip in.

OP posts:
Needmoresleep · 25/03/2013 15:21

In which case and if there were no strings attached, eg her having a right to live there, she may have been badly advised by the solicitor who handled the sale.

It might be worth trying Age Concern or someone who might be able to advise of angles. Not just IHT but her ability to access means tested Local Authority support.

getoffthecoffeetable · 25/03/2013 15:30

Do you know what happened to the money from the house purchase? How does MIL pay for things on a daily basis? I think you need to go into financials some more, you definitely will need to if you hope to get local authority assistance or accommodation.

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