What NOT to do when you know you’re dying

I may half-jokingly refer to my family as The Moneytards, but my friend who’s dying of a brain tumor just found out that he’s related to MUCH worse. I’m so sorry he had to see his sister’s true colors…

Yesterday, Indecent Proposal Guy (heretofore referenced as IPG), found out that his sister had him declared incompetent and seized full control of his accounts. He can’t even withdraw $20 from an ATM without asking her. She rather sneakily informed him somehow via cell/voicemail at a time when he was unable to speak (he’s regained that for the moment), so he didn’t find out until after it was done and dusted. I can tell from his instant messages that he’s still the same person he’s always been for years, so I have no idea if just the fact that he has a brain tumor automatically qualifies him as mentally unfit.

Anyway, guess who his sole beneficiary is? Yup, IPG’s sister. She is hoarding her inheritance. And to add insult to injury, she is working with lawyers to seize his computer in order to retrieve IMs, emails, account info, etc. to see if he’s hiding any more money. He’s not – he never thought he’d need to. He’s thinking about wiping his hard drive and loading vile porn for them to sort through. I suggested he load his search history with “how to murder your moneygrubbing sister without leaving a trace”.

I’m shouting as loud as is electronically possible at him to hire his own lawyer. Of course, it would be on…what’s it called, a contingency fee arrangement?… because he has zero access to his money. He was like “the lawyers will end up with all the money”, and I remarked that that was a much better option than his sister getting his hands on it. I half-jokingly suggested he hurry up and get declared incompetent in order to get married. It was kind of a joke, but in light of the extremes his awful sister is going to, he’s thinking it’s not such a terrible idea. It’s the only way either of us can think of to get him back in control over his money, or at least have a say in who holds the legal purse strings. I really want him to consult with a lawyer, but he’s just tired and has constant headaches…not really physically up for a fight like this.

So, what NOT to do when you know you’re dying: Give or leave by default all power and assets to one person, even if you think he/she is a good, solid, decent human being. His parents are dead, he has never been married and has no kids…his sister is it. I didn’t ask him if he’d sorted things out with an estate/family-type lawyer – just assumed he had because he’s a bright man. It also occurred to me a few months ago that mental competency would become an issue at some point…again, I thought it would be insulting or maybe even a cruel reminder of his near-future to ask if he’d planned for that eventuality. I didn’t think it was my place to discuss all this, I didn’t think my words would hold any kind of sway because I’m just a massage therapist whose bones he wants to jump…but I’m really sorry I kept silent.

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13 Responses

  1. That is truly vile what his sister is doing. He needs to get a lawyer stat – this has implications even beyond money because if she is his power of attorney on medical issues, what’s to say she’ll act with any integrity respecting his wishes in that regard when she has behaved so horribly right now.

    I just can’t believe the lengths people will go for money. Wait, actually I can. And that’s what’s sad about it. To take advantage of a dying man – your dying BROTHER – who trusted you to make good decisions. Just. There are no words.

    • I thought about the medical power…tempted to suggest that he rescind any DNR so that medical bills suck the money. Heh.

  2. If her motivations are truly what you say they are and he genuinely is competent, then what she’s doing is despicable.

    But I have to wonder if he’s really 100% competent. It seems questionable to me that he seriously offered you an indecent proposal scenario in the hopes that you’d say yes. If you were a different kind of person and said “yes” with ruthless motivations, he could be in a problematic financial situation right now. His sister may feel that she needs to protect him from other choices like the one he tried to make with you.

    Just playing devil’s advocate.

    • Marie, that didn’t escape my notice. But he knew perhaps better than I did that I didn’t have it in me to accept a sex-for-money arrangement. Over the years I’ve told him about some of the bizarre offers I’ve gotten, so he knew his audience. And he did make the argument that it’s his money and his life, why shouldn’t he do whatever he wants to make the end of it enjoyable? If someone told me I had 3 months to live, I would DEFINITELY cash in everything I could and fulfill as many dreams as I could. I don’t think that’s crazy, just a bit out-there because somehow I was at the top of his bucket list.

  3. Having a brain tumour does not automatically deem one incompetent. Capacity is a fluid concept, depending upon each decision to be made, and cannot be assumed based on a particular mental disorder. For instance, a person with schizophrenia may be incapable when he/she is floridly psychotic, but not when he/she is on meds and lucid.

    I’m so sad to hear that your friend is in this spot. It speaks to the importance ot having your powers of attorney in place when you’re well. I hope he is able to find the strength to seek a lawyer who will help him. It’s tricky when you dont’ have trustworthy family members on your side. I have vulnerable clients regularly who have no one they can trust with their finances. They get terribly taken advantage of. Sigh… Right now I’m hoping karma bites the sister in the as$.

  4. Oh my goodness, that is awful. Your poor friend. His sister is an utter bitch – why do that, when she was going to get it all anyway? Such a greedy swine. I agree with you on the lawyer, and so what if lawyers end up getting all the money, at this point I don’t think the sister deserves anything at all.

    I’m so sorry.

  5. Vile is exactly right. Hoping you find a Justice of the Peace. (what an appropriate title!)

  6. Before you jump in with both feet – how well do you know this guy? How manipulative is he capable of being to get what he wants? Please don’t be offended by this, because all I know about this guy is that (a) he offered to leave you all his money if you would marry him, (b) you refused, and (c) a situation has appeared that is making you reconsider this decision. No good deed goes unpunished – be sure you know what you are getting into before you jump in with both feet. I’m sure that he and his sister have a long and complicated history, and that you have heard only his perspective on the matter.

    Should you choose to act, I second the advice of everyone and his/her dog to get a competent attorney. Be advised that it will be long, messy, drawn-out, and ugly, as only family messes can be. And probably expensive, as well – and there may be some pressure to use your money to “tide things over” – decide now how you want to handle that.

    It would be incredibly generous of you to give of your time and effort to help a dying man retain his dignity in his last few months of life. But please go into it with your eyes open, realizing how much time and emotional effort on your part resolving this issue will probably take.

    • He didn’t offer to marry me…just give me a load of dough to be his girlfriend until the end. My mom suggested marriage for inheritance tax purposes, figuring it would be more efficient that paying The Man for a $500K gift.

      I’ve dealt with some master manipulators, and his type is almost comically easy to see through (all sex-related). He’s actually a bit of a doormat. I am not willing to get actively involved in anything until/unless he gets a lawyer and is declared mentally fit. Then we’ll see what he needs from an outsider. But if I were him, I’d be leary of trusting anyone, even me…I mean, if that’s what a sister did to him, you know?

      • I guess I should realize that in your line of work and where you live you’ve probably seen it all:) Somehow, though, this just seems rather too pat to be the entire story. And you seem like such a nice person – I just would hate to see you hurt. At any rate, I’ll keep you both in my thoughts and prayers – hope this works out for the best, whatever that ends up looking like.

  7. This is a really weird situation… but I get the feeling we don’t know all of the story. So very strange.

    Keep us updated on how this all turns out.

    • Not hiding anything deliberately – I just cut back on the details to make it more readable. But yeah, I do have questions for him. Like why the hell didn’t he hire a lawyer within an hour.

  8. This doesn’t add up. It’s really hard to get someone declared incompetent, at least in Texas. We had a really hard time with my grandma’s power of attorney form, and she was in a coma.

    I rarely think the solution is to lawyer up, but it might be here. Where is mom to handle this?

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