Question: My brother and I are co-trustees of our mom's trust. Mom is 98 and lives at home. My brother moved in with mom a year ago as he lost his home. He used most of her money for caregivers and, now that all the money is gone, he is leaving without a financial plan in place. He says I have to take over personal care of mom. I am 76, married, and have a handicapped son. He says it's my problem now. Can I be forced to live there? I'm getting sick over this.
Dr. Amy: What a very unfortunate situation. It seems that you need to explore two avenues at the same time: you need to quickly find replacement help for your mother. You may also want to get legal advice about the trust.
The best way to find out what services your mom is eligible for is to call your county office of the Department of Social Services. If she is not able to take care of herself because of physical or cognitive limitations, she may be eligible for services like Meals on Wheels, home care visits, and help with light cleaning. It’s also a good idea to call your Area Agency on Aging, which may also be able to provide assistance.
If your mom is not eligible for services, you could talk to a financial advisor to discuss financial options. For example, you could discuss if there is equity in her house and if it would make sense to access that to pay for her care. In addition, a geriatric care manager could help you develop care options. Perhaps you, your spouse and your brother can have a family conference with the geriatric care manager to talk about options and costs.
Regarding the trust and your legal obligations, if a lawyer’s fees are too costly you can consult legal aid. If you a member of a religious community, you might ask if there is a lawyer in the congregation who will volunteer his or her services. Good luck!
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