Undermining sister-in-law and a potential fraud

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by DMac, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    I just wanted to ask for advice about an upsetting letter my husband received from my sister-in-law earlier this week, which is worrying me. The letter was addressed to him and his 3 siblings.

    In this letter, my SIL expresses her exasperation as to why my husband (Power of Attorney holder) refuses to apply to Social Services for financial support for my parents-in-law’s care costs. The reason why is quite straightforward – up until very recently, they had a substantial share portfolio, which I’m aware SS would treat as ‘notional capital’. They were persuaded to gift this portfolio their children, as a way to reduce their assets. I’m aware of the principle of ‘Deprivation of assets’, so I understand the gifting of the shares would cut no ice with SS if a financial assessment was carried out. They also own their own home, so all in all their assets are currently well above the £24k funding threshold. My husband, thankfully, sees this too, and refuses to participate in what would be a fraudulent claim.

    My S-I-L also implicitly criticises me (main carer) for over–caring for my parents-in-law. Or at least, that’s how it feels to me. She says that they are very fortunate in receiving so much care and attention from their children, and that she will not be able to provide that amount of support to her own parents, if they should need it. I can’t help but feel hurt by that comment.

    My dad-in-law (82) had an operation for bowel cancer early in 2014. He has made a good recovery from that operation, but it has left him with problems keeping his bowels clean, and he also wears a urinary catheter permanently. He is also immobile and has some cognitive impairment following an earlier hip operation, so is no longer able to manage his own affairs. My husband does most of their paperwork. My mum-in-law (77) has very recently received a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. At the moment she presents quite well, and could fool the unknowing into believing there is nothing wrong with her. But in reality, as we have discovered, she can no longer manage the usual household tasks that used to be routine for her.

    Because both parents-in-law are still relatively early in their dementia journeys, and (I pray daily) relatively safe living in their own home, at the present time the only paid-for care they get is a visit every morning to help my DIL get out of bed, washed and dressed. Their daughter puts DIL to bed at night and checks that the house is secure.

    I was working full-time until recently, but my job came to an end in May of this year (end of contract, so not unexpected). Since then, I have stepped up my caring for MIL and DIL, to the point where it is practically a full-time occupation. Up until that time, I’d been visiting them about twice a week with a prepared meal. I soon realised that that was not enough to meet their daily needs, so decided to visit them at least every other day, always bringing a meal. I organised a rota system so that one of their other children brings a meal once a week each on the days I’m not there. I also do their shopping, oversee domestic tasks and attend some healthcare appointments with them. It wasn’t until I started focusing on their needs that I saw how difficult life had become for them, and how much support they now need, just with day-to-day living. Forgive me for blowing my trumpet, but it’s due mainly to my efforts these past few months that:-
    - They both now have attendance allowance, and a reduction in council tax
    - MIL was stopped from driving - I disabled her car, her driving licence has been revoked and their car has been sold
    - I organised the installation of a community alarm system for them
    - I changed DIL’s carers after discovering the first ones were not cleaning his catheter site properly
    - I attempted to get SS to carry out a needs assessment for them (but gave up on that one!)
    - I took them for dentist and dental hygienist appointments, and have organised and attended numerous other health-related appointments with them

    I believe that I’m doing only the very basic caring tasks to enable MIL and DIL to remain as independent as they can be, in their own home. There is absolutely NO pampering or pandering going on! Looking at it from a different perspective, as a former manager of people, I would want someone in place to cover their needs, even if those needs are not hugely demanding at this stage. I’d want someone available in case they pressed the emergency button, for example (it has happened a couple of times already!). I’d want someone available to be able to attend those unexpected visits to the doctor. I do all of the above because I can, and want to, and am lucky enough to have a supportive husband who appreciates what I do for his parents. So, as I see it, there is no case for making an application for funding at the present time. I can well understand that this situation may change once we are talking about care home or nursing care, but it seems to me to difficult to predict future scenarios at this stage. Is that over-excessive caring? Or is it not enough? I’d really welcome any opinions on this. I guess it’s no wonder I feel hurt and dismayed by my SIL’s comments.

    I do understand that it doesn’t have to be ME that does these things, at least not forever. But as long as I’m in place and their needs remain at this level, there’s no need to pay for any more care. I appreciate the situation may change suddenly and dramatically, and I might not be able to continue, so at some stage, yes, we will have to pay for care. I’m also aware that their capital won’t last forever, so if MIL lives another 20 years (entirely possible!), we may have to eventually approach SS for funding. I have raised this very issue with the siblings in family meetings (another thing I’ve organised). I have suggested that we should contact a SOLLA adviser to get advice with planning the funding of their care needs, so as to LEGITIMATELY protect the grandchildren’s inheritance – as far as this is possible. My BIL was dismissive of this suggestion, as he believes he has enough expertise to make his own funding decisions. He has a background in finance, but is not a specialist in this area.

    Apart from feeling hurt, my next reaction to my SIL’s letter was to dismiss it. I believe it contains many inaccuracies, especially her interpretation of the principles of deprivation of assets. I’d be prepared to forgive her ignorance, and preserve the peace for the sake of maintaining family relationships. However, the more I think about it, the more I’m left with nagging suspicion that she might at some stage attempt to make a fraudulent application for a financial assessment for one, or both, parents-in-law. Her husband (MIL and DIL’s second son, the ‘dismissive finance expert’) also holds financial power of attorney. Both attorney sons have joint and several powers. I can well imagine her, through her husband, trying it on with Social Services. But until MIL and DIL’s care needs increase substantially, I guess (I hope!) Social Services won’t respond.

    I’m aware that Social Services do have sophisticated powers of interrogation, so I’m hoping that the share transfer would come to their attention, and the application would then be rejected out of hand. It was certainly done at a time when DIL could have reasonably foreseen that he would need care in the future, as he was already receiving care following his cancer operation! But I’m fearful of the repercussions of her attempting a claim and then my husband potentially being prosecuted. Or, what if she makes a successful claim? We would then be put in a position of conflict over coming clean with SS, or keeping quiet. My conscience would not allow the latter, so I can foresee family relations breaking down irreparably at that point. It’s such an awful position to be put in, especially when trying to work out just how on earth to cope with, what is in effect, two vulnerable adults living alone for most of the time.

    Thank you for bearing with me and reading this. I’d really appreciate any advice.
  2. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    It sounds like you're doing a great job so tell her to mine her own business (he said politely).
    Some comments however:
    "she will not be able to provide that amount of support to her own parents, if they should need it." So you're showing her up by being so good at caring, not something to feel guilty about, on the contrary it shows what a good job you're doing.
    "They also own their own home, so all in all their assets are currently well above the £24k funding threshold" as long as one of them was in the house it would be disregarded and the cash would be £24k each so £48k in assets does that change anything?
    On the "gifted" assets I wouldn't spend the money! is all I'd say.
    If she wants to make a claim for SS funding then let her do it, if it turns out to be fraudulent then it's her problem as long as you tell the truth about everything it's really not your problem I'd just make it clean you're not prepared to be part of any attempt conceal anything from the authorities.
    Carry on doing what you're doing it sounds like you're doing a great job and she shouldn't be making you feel the way you do.
  3. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    Hi DMac,
    you're doing a wonderful job supporting your husband's parents - you both know you are, and that's what counts.
    It is, really, for your husband to respond to her, should he deem it necessary. So leave that to him.
    Maybe try again for the needs assessments from SS - they have a duty to carry them out however long it may take for them to act. And tell all siblings that you have renewed your request. They will eventually do the needs assessment and one of their financial assessments ie the one where they ask have you a house? have you savings over £... ? Yes. Yes. Then you are self funding let us know when you're not. And then report that back to all siblings.
    I do wonder, though, if the matter will ever go away - possibly Kevini is right: let her make a claim and see what happens. You have a paper trail for evidence on your part incl her letter and records of everything you have done and organised for them. This is hanging over you all unresolved at the moment.
    Best wishes
  4. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    Thanks Kevin. It's reassuring to hear from you that I'm doing a good job! I really appreciate it. It's made me feel better already! :)

    I think you are right, there is probably an element of guilt on her part that she feels 'shown up' by my more intensive caring role. Perhaps this is her way of defending her position by getting a retaliatory strike in first? Who knows? But it was NEVER my intention to make anyone feel guilty! I'm doing what I do out of choice, because I'm able to and am available at this time, and because there's a situation that needs to be addressed.

    To answer your 'financial' points:

    "as long as one of them was in the house it would be disregarded and the cash would be £24k each so £48k in assets does that change anything?" Answer: no, not really. The portfolio was held in joint names and each of them would have a holding of well over £24k in their own right. Enough to pay for, say, 2-3 years' care home fees each (depending on level of care, of course).

    The portfolio is, in effect, being held in trust for each of the siblings. So no, it won't be spent.

    I'm still hoping that my husband will be able to persuade her husband (the other PoA holder) to meet with a SOLLA adviser, so that the facts can be laid bare and they can have an honest discussion about the options available to them. If he really can't be persuaded, then my husband will have to take advice alone. If my BIL persists in ignoring independent/ professional advice, then yes, at that stage my husband would have no choice but to say openly & document in a letter that he would not support a fraudulent claim. I sincerely hope it never comes to that, but my husband will need to make sure that all conversations/ discussions/ decisions are documented, to cover himself. It's sad, but inevitable, I fear.

    Thank you for reading this and for making me feel a bit better. x
  5. Katrine

    Katrine Registered User

    Jan 20, 2011
    #5 Katrine, Oct 28, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
    You are doing a fan-flipping-brilliant job DMac! You have done everything I did for my MIL, plus a lot more, and you are proactively supporting TWO vulnerable people. Your OH is very fortunate to have such efficient and loving support, and he knows it. It's great to hear that he won't be bullied by his brother and SIL. :)

    Your SIL's comments about her own parents make little sense. Kevin suggests she's feeling guilty and jealous. I agree. The only other interpretation would be that by doing what you do, for free, you are somehow preventing funds from flowing to her husband which could later be used to pay for her own parents' care. :confused:

    I think it's a great idea to contact a SOLLA advisor. At this stage in your MIL's dementia journey it would make sense to consider a care annuity policy. There's no harm in making preliminary enquiries. I did this on behalf of OH, who then had direct telephone and email contact with the advisor. Like you, I had finished my last job and had free time, whereas OH was working 60 miles from home in a demanding job, and had very little opportunity to pursue these things during business hours.

    Your OH's co-attorney brother should be consulted if you do find a suitable financial product, and a face-to-face meeting with the IFA and both attorneys would be advisable. Your advisor will ask about what benefits etc. are already being claimed. If s/he thinks you should be claiming more I am sure you will be pointed in the right direction.

    I sympathise with you on the angry and frustrated SIL issue. Mine is MIL's daughter, so has more moral right to express her opinions than yours does. She was jealous of my being in day to day charge, but wasn't willing/able to share the work. She had completely unrealistic expectations of public funding and just would not be told. She stubbornly insisted that her mum deserved better. Well, yes, doesn't everybody? :rolleyes:

    I was amused by the comments on another TP thread about 'signposting'. On several occasions SIL was involved in meetings with SS or NHS people where she would demand more 'support'. They had already given advice and handed over leaflets, so couldn't see what other 'support' she was talking about.

    My SIL's personality makes her seek to bend the world to her POV; resulting in a lifetime of frustration and planned failure. A car crash in slow motion is how it often appears to the observer. She has slowly become more realistic about public funding for the elderly, but only by living through the situation. She won't take anyone else's word for it. It is a specific personality type, and perhaps your SIL is the same?
    "Facts are only true if I know them to be true - everything else is just somebody's opinion".

    I would suggest that OH and his brother request a financial assessment from SS for their parents. Look on it as an exercise in 'due diligence and transparency'. I expect BIL is familiar with that terminology, so flatter him by speaking his professional language. ;)

    Your in-laws obviously think they know better than you do, so why not allow BIL to put his opinion to the test? The financial assessment meeting, and paperwork, should involve both brothers. There would be no fraud or misrepresentation if they disclose all the material facts. It is not wrong to ask and you should have no fear of requesting the assessment. In fact, given SS budget cuts, you may never be prioritised to receive the assessment. That will then give BIL and SIL a justifiable reason to complain, but NOT about you!
  6. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    Thank you Shedrech,

    Yes, I'll definitely leave it to my husband to respond to SIL. I've no intention of responsing myself - I would not trust myself to stay calm! :D

    I did request a needs assessment from SS for DIL, MIL AND me, and they did visit my DIL about 3 months ago. I believe this is because he was already on their radar, following his cancer treatments and subsequent re-ablement package following his discharge from hospital. At that stage, they asked the financial questions, and I answered yes, and yes. The siblings are aware of this. Oh, and SS were full of praise for our excellent care arrangements! :rolleyes:

    In her letter, SIL has said in effect, now that MIL has her official diagnosis, it's a good time to get a financial assessment done for HER. I think she's right about the assessment part, but regarding the funding, I'm inclined to agree with you and Kevin: let SIL go ahead, and let her explain to SS how, in the space of 3 months, they have gone from self-funding to being under the limit :rolleyes:

    It's a good point you make about getting a needs assessment done, though, and I have made a mental note to myself to press again for a SS assessment as soon as anything changes. I think I made a mistake last time in not making a big enough deal of their needs. Next time I will be much more explicit! They say, don't they, that a managed need is still a need? This is what I need my family and everyone concerned to understand, that these needs are REAL! It is a source of huge frustration for me that no-one seems willing to give us an objective view and spell out what those needs are! Hence I'm still left with a nagging doubt that, despite what SS and SIL say, we're actually not doing enough for them!

    Thank you for your support and encouragement. It means a lot. x
  7. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    Hi Katrine, thank you for your detailed reply and your kind words of encouragement. It really does help to hear this. I'm going to follow your advice and enlist the support of a SOLLA adviser ASAP. In fact my OH is already supportive of this idea. It's a good idea to get both OH and BIL together to request a financial assessment, too. I will do my damnedest to ensure BIL is involved. If BIL resists, then I'll make sure OH documents everything, so that at least he has a watertight defence, if or when the brown stuff hits the whirly thing :D

    I think you are on to something about my SIL's feelings and mindset. You may have a point about her possibly feeling jealous, because her husband has in the past openly praised me for my efforts. In her letter, my SIL uses words like 'furious' to describe what would be my DIL's reaction (pre-dementia) if he was aware that HIS savings are being used to fund HIS care needs! :rolleyes: Of course, it's upsetting for anyone to have to use their hard-earned savings or inheritance to pay for care costs. But we cannot change this situation in an instant, even with the supposed introduction of a care fees cap in the 2014 Care Act (whenever that takes effect...). It is the futility of this situation and her anger and resentment that, I think, is clouding her judgement.

    Some time ago, my husband sent his siblings a detailed e-mail, which I helped to compose, explaining the reason why it was not appropriate to seek SS funding at this time; the process the Council would go through to verify a claim; and why the share transfer would undoubtedly be treated as a deprivation of assets. My husband is a chartered accountant, I'm a chartered management accountant, and I have even worked in a Finance department for a Council, where I evaluated financial applications (though not to do with care costs). So, between us, we do know a bit about this subject! All this experience and knowledge is clearly not enough to convince her. So yes, I think you also have a point when you suggest she thinks "Facts are only true if I know them to be true - everything else is just somebody's opinion".

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