The Moneyist: My mom was identified with Alzheimer's. My siblings tousled their lives. Ought to I assist my mom change her will?

My mother created a trust and will in 2013 that determined the distribution of her considerable fortune in equal parts between me and my three siblings after their death. Her estate includes financial accounts and several properties.

Two years ago, in 2019, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Since then, there has been chaos in handling litigation related to my siblings. After she was mistreated by two siblings, she moved in with me a year ago and is now under professional guardianship.

None of my siblings help her with the care. One of my siblings completely cut off communication with our mother. Another visits regularly, but it's really spying on the other two, one of whom moved away as a teenager 46 years ago and visited once before our mother was diagnosed.

“One of my siblings completely cut off communication with our mother. Another comes to visit regularly, but it's really espionage for the other two. "

Our mother can still indicate her preferences and knows who we are. According to her lawyer, she can't change the trust, but she can change her will.

Due to the behavior of my siblings towards her, she has repeatedly stated that they should not receive “a cent” from her estate. She would need help to grant that wish.

I am torn. Should i help her? I don't blame her for her feelings. It seems obvious what they are really looking for is their estate. They didn't let me near them for almost a year because they knew we were always close. They also conspired to have me write from their wills. Fortunately, her lawyer realized her undue influence and refused to do so.

I estimate she's already spent $ 100,000 in legal and guardianship fees to protect herself from that.

What should I do? The whole thing is heartbreaking.

The remaining child

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Dear rest,

What you propose is not impossible, but you are playing a high stakes game. Just be aware that you would face further litigation and allegations that you were inappropriately influencing your mother – something you have claimed your siblings tried to do in the past. I do not doubt your intention or your story. I'm just giving you an early warning of the turbulence that might lie ahead. Even so, despite your mother's diagnosis, what you propose is not impossible.

If your mother wants to change her will and you want to help her, you must first demonstrate your mother's "testamentary ability" to make such changes. She needs to understand what it means and what impact it will have – in this case, disinheriting her other legal heirs. It must also understand the full nature of its assets and their value. Your mother would likely need to provide a reason for these changes as well. It can't be easy.

They do not provide details of the nature of the current litigation, but I do assume that your siblings tried to gain control of your mother's trust and estate and challenged the existing conservatism. This is not an unusual sequence of events when siblings are at war and when a sick parent owns a sizable estate. In order to prove the ability to testify, you need to access medical records and seek the help of doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and / or neurologists.


Each case is unique, but there is a legal precedent for a family member who has unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow a claimant posthumously. Timothy Gallagher, an attorney with Reminger Attorneys at Law, cited the Webb v. Anderson Children Trust et al., 2020 where a sister sued her brother over her mother's individual retirement account (IRA). The sister claimed that her mother was unable to make changes due to recently diagnosed dementia.

In this case, the brother had his mother do two separate psychological exams. "The court found that the sister has not proven that the mother was unable to change the IRA beneficiaries," writes Gallagher. "The mere fact of being diagnosed with dementia was not enough to show a lack of performance, and the financial advisor's statement was that the mother was strong and confident when she made the move in 2009."

You and your mother will have to weigh how much you care about the disinheritance of your children, taking into account their mental and emotional state. You will invite more conflict into your life. Such legal proceedings often take years and can rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, in legal fees.

I clearly don't know all of the facts on this case, or both sides of the story. With this in mind, and in good faith, I urge you to be meticulous and careful.

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