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How do I protect my brother and sister from an elder sister living with my mother and squandering her finances before she dies?

Indianapolis, IN |

my mother only recently inherited a small amount of money from her mother and my oldest sister who lives with her and refuses to work is seeing to it that all of that money is spent on her before my mother dies. They just returned from an all Mother funded trip to Las Vegas and are planning on going to a local Casino tomorrow as they do numerous times per week. At this rate there will not only be no inheritance for the rest of us but likely considerable debt. How can this be addressed?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. If your mother has capacity, then there is nothing you can do. You cannot protect her from herself. If she has diminished capacity, then there are a number of options, including reporting her to Adult Protective Services. You should contact an attorney, share all of the facts of the situation and determine how best to proceed.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  2. I am sorry for your situation. You don't really address whether your
    mother is competent. If she is willingly deciding to gamble with her
    inheritance, she is free to do that. However, if she is not competent to
    make money decisions, that is another matter. If she is not competent,
    you could seek to have a conservator appointed by a court. You will need
    a lawyer experienced in that kind of litigation to assist you. Good
    luck.


  3. Attorneys Holbrook & Frederick are correct. Typically, as long as your mother has capacity, she is entitled to do what she wants with her assets. If she has diminished capacity, please follow Attorney Frederick's advice. If she's still "all there", she may come to recognize at some point that her money's running out the door to her elder daughter and various casinos. At that time, she may consider establishing an irrevocable trust with a trusted third party acting as Trustee. The Trustee will manage her assets and make sure that the funds only benefit your mother and that casino trips are few and far-between. Good luck to you.

    : have your mother sit down with an estate planning

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.


  4. Unfortunately, it seems that you need to curb Mother's mindframe. While she is alive and well and has all faculties, then Mom can do with her money what she wants; including going out and having fun with one of her children. If sibling were just TAKING Mom's money and doing same, then you could take either civil or criminal action. OR If you feel that Mom is feeble-minded or under duress or undue influence, then you could initiate a guardianship action. Your Mom's debt cannot be transferred to her children upon her death; but she could jeopardize any inheritance that you or they expect or might rely on. The worst part, is that if you start legal action and it turns out the Mom's cognition and faculties are sufficient to enable her to make her own decisions, then YOU are the one who appears to be selfish and inheritance hungry, rather than "prodigal child".

    veRONIca jarnagin, atty, pc 317-253-7664 provides this response as general guidance and not specific legal advice. If you wish to receive specific legal advice for your situation, please call to schedule an appointment.

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