My mother, a 71-year-old widow, has been subjected to financial abuse by my brother since my father's death in 2009. He has repeatedly taken advantage of her trust and generosity, causing her to lose money and property. I am now seeking advice on the best course of action to help her.
The situation started when my brother asked my mother to lend him $27,000 for a down payment on a house closer to his work. He then left her to pay his house payments until it sold, which was in her name due to her and my father previously helping him. Later, my mother bought a $300,000 home in 2016 closer to my brother, with the idea that he could live there with his family while she could still stay in a rural area. She paid for all the updates, but within a year, they treated her so badly that she had to buy another home in 2017 that she could take care of. She took a loan out against the $300,000 home so that hers would be in the clear, and my brother signed a non-notarized note stating he would make the payments. However, he also "borrowed" $40,000 in 2021 but has yet to pay it back, also with a non-notarized note.
In February 2022, my mother asked me to assist her in setting up her will at a law office, where I discovered several alarming facts:
- My brother had put the house in forbearance set to begin on March 1, 2022.
- In 2019, he had asked my mother to refinance for a lower interest rate, but he filled out the paperwork, and my mother had to sign on a tablet, not receiving a paper copy. He had also taken $60,000 at this time without her knowledge.
- He was then put on the mortgage and let her believe he was now on the deed as well.
- My mother had asked him several times over the next few years to sell the house, but he refused. In 2022, I pulled the deed and discovered he was not listed, so I assisted her in putting the house up for sale, which sold in May of 2023.
- He did not make a single payment from January 2022 until the house sold, so my mother and I paid it to prevent her from losing it.
- My brother would threaten to withhold access to her grandchildren or threaten suicide when my mother asked about money.
- Throughout 2022, I discovered that he sold several of her items without her knowledge, including an old Oliver Tractor (even on my father's headstone), a small stock trailer, a 65" mower, and a brush hog.
- The week of closing on the house, I also discovered that the newer tractor was missing. He keeps saying that it is "being worked on," but he refuses to tell us where or by whom. All of these items were purchased by my parents.
My brother is almost 50 years old, and he and his wife both have great jobs. When my father passed away, my mother relied on him to sort her finances because he knew everything she had. She never had a reason not to trust him until I discovered these things. Since then, I have been doing my best to