Six weeks since mum went into CH and siblings want to clear house and rent it

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by SarahL, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. SarahL

    SarahL Registered User

    Dec 1, 2012
    I have Power of Attorney for my Mum. I cared for her and sorted out everything over all the years until she was sectioned 8 weeks ago, which was the most traumatic day of my life. After hospital she went into a care home which was six weeks ago. My sisters have seen her once a year if that over the past 10 years but now they are saying it is very important that her best interests are acted upon in line with the POA and they want to rent out her house and go through all her furnishings and possessions asap. I am still coming to terms with all that's happened as I did everything alone and anyone who's read my previous posts will know how much I struggled with the abuse from Mum's Alzheimer's and sadness I've suffered. Of course I will act in Mum's best interests but I feel I need a bit more time to come to terms with everything as I'm still processing it all, while keeping an eye on her house and sorting out her paperwork. It astounds me that they are now very interested in coming over, having left me to it for years. I have POA solely and wonder if I should get legal advice too, so that I am protected. I do not trust my older sister at all, she never helped me or Mum before, even saying 'what will be will be' in one email when I was at my wits' end trying to sort out dementia services and severe paranoia and sundowning with Mum phoning me over 40 times a night. She then insensitively said it was 'exciting news' when Mum was going into a care home. I am minded to email back politely asking for more time before clearing the house, as everything's so raw but they are detached so will not be feeling the same. I certainly do not want to 'unite', as she is putting it, as I have no respect for sisters who left me to do everything. Any advice would be brilliant, ie taking legal advice for me and/or possible disputes with siblings given that I have POA. Thank you.
  2. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    I think your proposed email sounds fine. Keep it brief and polite. If they persist then just say it's too soon, you're busy with paperwork, the house can wait for a while. Make sure they don't have access to her keys. Change the locks if necessary and say the insurance company insisted on it, and that only you are allowed keys.

    If they try the "we're family let's do it together to make it easier for you" approach then thank them for their consideration and say you'll be back in touch when you are ready to take them up on the offer.
  3. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    You do it in your time and as the holder of the POA you have to look after your Mum's interests and as such they can take nothing from the house, it is all part of your Mother's assets. Mention deprevation of assets to them.

    It is so sad they are behaving this way. Stay strong for yourself and your Mum.

    Take care,

  4. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    Worth bearing in mind that as Attorney you have a responsibility to make the most of her assets, so you can't defer for too long.
  5. SarahL

    SarahL Registered User

    Dec 1, 2012
    Thank you all. I feel my sisters taking this stance is too soon, as I need more time to adjust before progressing things but I realise I must weigh this up to be in the best interests of Mum, it is just painful and I feel so alone.
  6. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    I'd be inclined to go in and remove anything of perceived monetary value, such as jewellery, antiques and maybe family photographs for safe keeping. These are still your mum's belongings, not the family's.

    I found that these were the main attractions for my SIL. She wasn't at all interested in clearing out the dross in the kitchen cupboards, other than going through the cutlery drawer to see if there was any silver. (If only!) I guess she'd been watching too much Cash in the Attic or Bargain Hunt ...:D

    Just tell them you're doing it in case it is burgled. You might find they lose interest.

    WILLIAMR Account Closed

    Apr 12, 2014
    Hi SarahL

    Out of interest are you equal beneficiaries in your mother's will?.
    I can understand your feelings.
    Something I would advise is if your siblings are equal beneficiaries is to keep a careful account on what you spend your mother's money on while she is in care.
    I do know of a case where a sister did the caring for the mother and she was the only one who visited most days. The mother was on CHC funding.
    The brother's could not understand the mother needed things like clothes while she was in care and the mother liked to have a treat when the daughter visited eg an ice cream or a pie in winter.
    The mother was in care for over 2 years and over time the cost of these items mounted up and the sister used her mother's money to pay for these items.
    The 2 brothers took the view that as she was the only one visiting the mother she should pay for these items which was very unreasonable in my opinion.

    I have to admit best interests often turn out to be indirectly the best interests of the offspring as they are the ones who will inherit the money.
    A while ago I did ask a gent if he really wanted to take out a 5 year ISA at age 89.
    He replied he had plenty of money and he knew his offspring are likely to get the money.
    I just let him get on with it.
    Sadly he died a few months later but he had lived well, had private medical insurance, a nice home and he went on 3 holidays a year a minimum of a week each time so I can understand why he took out a 5 year ISA at that age.

  8. LYN T

    LYN T Registered User

    Aug 30, 2012
    Brixham Devon
    Well only if there is any money left once care has been paid for.

    Sarah L has acknowledged that she has to weigh up her options as she has her Mum's best interests foremost in her thoughts. From my reading Sarah is not interested in inheritance, but she is understandably wanting more time to come to terms with what she has to do.

    Sarah-back to your original post; I would do as Chemmy suggested. Don't forget to safeguard anything of sentimental value (although I shouldn't think your Sister will be interested if there is no monetary value). As POA you should be calling the shots-your Sister cannot legally become involved.

    Good luck and take a deep breath.

    Take care

    Lyn T XX
  9. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    #9 Pickles53, Jan 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
    And if you need another reason, my mum's insurance company would not cover valuables after the house had been unoccupied for 90 days. I'm sure you already know that as POA you should keep detailed accounts of everything you spend on your mother's behalf and receipts. But don't feel you have to subsidise her, it's fine for you to buy anything that she needs using her own money.

    In some ways I was lucky with my siblings. Although they didn't do much, there was never any argument or questioning of what I was doing with mum's money. While mum was still at home, and living a long way away, it was agreed that I could pay for my petrol from her account as I was going back and forth so often.
  10. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    My aunt's house was empty (though on the market) for well over a year after she went into the CH. I think the Ps of A were still able to get insurance, as long as someone was staying overnight every so often, perhaps once a month. This actually worked out well, since they lived a long drive away and came down regularly to visit the aunt and clear it bit by bit.

    Re the OP, I would def. remove any valuables. I know it's not quite the same, since her mother had actually died, but my SIL found that her nephew's wife - not even a blood relation - had been upstairs and helped herself to jewellery! I am pleased to say they made her give it all back.
  11. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    I've known my sister-in-law for forty years and have always got on well with her. However, her attitude to her mother's belongings when she moved into care has shocked me, tbh, and I now see her in a different (true?) light.

    She actually said to me " Well, X (my other SIL) doesn't wear jewellery, so she doesn't need any of it." How do you respond to that? Her mother's not even dead, so technically, there's no 'inheritance' to divvy out anyway.

    Once the idea of possibly losing a future inheritance becomes a reality, it seems to bring out the worst traits in some family members. I find such selfishness truly distasteful.
  12. suzc5hg90

    suzc5hg90 Registered User

    Nov 28, 2014
    #12 suzc5hg90, Jan 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015

    This is a very difficult/stressful time for you and your sisters are another concern that you could really do without. Take time to make your own decisions and if you aren't comfortable with something then withdraw from them to protect yourself. You have the POA so only you can decide what happens to your Mum and her belongings. I hope that you feel the support from this forum. Thinking of you. Suzx
  13. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009

    I totally agree, look after yourself and don't be bullied by your siblings.
    Take care:)
  14. lexy

    lexy Registered User

    Nov 24, 2013
    #14 lexy, Jan 31, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2015
  15. Cathy*

    Cathy* Registered User

    Jan 4, 2015
    The day my mum went into hospital my sister took everything of value from her house and it was never to be seen again. With no inventory there was nothing I could do when mum died. I would make sure you are the only one with access to the house so that you don't have to worry about anything happening behind your back and then deal with things at your own pace.
  16. SarahL

    SarahL Registered User

    Dec 1, 2012
    Thank you everyone. For some reason I feel scared and fearful. Regarding William's message, the will does split everything equally, although Mum was disillusioned and hurt by my sisters' lack of contact. That being said there is a difficult past here which caused their lack of engagement with her, however their sense of entitlement all of a sudden has frightened me. I am frightened they have united against me and I am frightened about the power I have. I definitely do not want them to go into Mum's house and order me around as to 'best interests', which I now believe are theirs.
  17. Sue J

    Sue J Registered User

    Dec 9, 2009
    I think sometimes where there has been a 'difficult past' siblings can sometimes justify in their own minds an entitlement that is an unjust one. It has been my experience too.

    I wonder if CAB may be able to help you with some legal advice/support. Don't be afraid, just stand firm, you are the strong one although you may not feel that way right now, you coped with things they ran away from to care for your Mum.
  18. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    When mum went into a CH I found it hard just to go into her home to remove the post, so I can quite understand that you need a bit more time. When I first started removing stuff or eying her possessions and wondering if such-and-such a person would like them it felt like she had died, or I was going behind her back. A couple of months down the line it will become easier.

    In the meantime, dont be bullied by your siblings, make sure they cant go in without you (changing locks sounds good) and remove valuables to your home (maybe get a friend/neighbour to sign an inventory).

    Remember - you call the shots now, not them
  19. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    People often think they are entitled to get their share of the loot when the person concerned doesn't 'need it' anymore. Beneficiaries of a will are only entitled to their share of the estate once the person has died. Before then they are entitled to exactly nothing! A will may refer to a house, or furniture, or jewellery, but these may no longer be owned by the testator at the time of their death. In which case, those bequests just fail on practical grounds. If the antique dining table was sold in the meantime, the person this was promised to doesn't get extra compensation.

    This is how we approached house clearance for MIL.

    MIL went into permanent residential care. Her house needed to be sold to pay CH fees. We started by clearing actual rubbish and broken household goods. Once reasonably tidy, I took photographs of each room showing her furniture and possessions in context. This was recommended to me by an estate agent. He said nobody can argue later that you sold off her valuables and pocketed the cash because it will be clear from the photos that this is a modest home containing well-used items and traditional style furniture (you can imagine what that really means!).

    Then we got a local auctioneer to do a walk through assessment of her possessions. He didn't bother doing a written inventory because most of it was unsaleable. I just took notes when he pointed out things he would accept at his auction. This formed the basis of a small inventory that OH wrote once he had done a walk through with his siblings. Anything that was requested by them was given a sale value based either on the auctioneer's advice or searches for similar items on eBay. The requestor then paid for the item and signed a receipt.

    Some items with no sale value were also requested and by negotiation we sorted out who had what. In some cases these were family mementos such as photographs or pictures. We intend to digitise photographs at some point so that everyone can access them.

    The remainder went to: rubbish tip, charity shops and Freecycle. Some large items of furniture went on Freecycle that we could perhaps have got a few quid for on eBay but it is a big hassle and wasn't worth the effort when we were busy decorating the property ready to go on the market.

    We have a small collection of ornaments at our house that were intended to provide MIL with a regular change of trinkets in her CH bedroom. Sadly she can't cope with ornaments because she will throw them away or put them in other people's rooms, so I expect these will also go to the charity shop soon.
  20. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Wow, Katrine, that is really good advice - I am taking notes myself as I will soon be clearing and selling mums bungalow!
    I have cleared the actual rubbish (TV guides dating back 12 months!) and broken stuff, but that has given me lots of tips on what to do about the rest.

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