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Old 09-26-2017, 07:41 AM
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Default Problems with father-in-law

I posted a bit of this in the healthcare forum, but really would like some input aside from the healthcare aspect:

My father-in-law is a living "SOB" by most anyone's definition. Selfish, rude, bitter, critical. He hates all four of his son-in-laws due primarily because they married his daughters. He doesn't even want any non-blood kin around at holidays, and that is no joke. Even his grandkids are iffy - they are half someone else's. It's been this way for 30 years.

Well, he's a retired farmer (age 77). His previous wife died about 10 years ago, and he promptly remarried. His mother and father were fairly large farmland owners. Apparently after he remarried, his mother (my wife's grandmother) changed her will so that wife #2 wouldn't inherit that land. The land would be his to use for his life presumably, and then it would go to the kids (my wife and her sisters).

Problem number one is that he refuses to let the kids see the will. He may or may not be complying with the will - no one knows.

Problem number two is that he has his own will presumably - he won't let the kids see that either - and he is starting to have health issues - quite possibly dementia.

I told my wife "Now is high time that you and your sisters get a beat on his financial condition - all books should be opened so you guys can plan." Well, no one really knows how to go about that. The kids are like "well, it will be up to wife #2 to look after him."

Father in law also does not want to go the doctor for evaluation, presumably for fear of the diagnosis.

What do you guys recommend? What should his kids do? Any way they can legally get their hands on the will(s)? I mean, if they are named parties in the document, don't they have a legal right to take a peek? Any other advice?
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Old 09-26-2017, 07:56 AM
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Its none of the kids business what his will states or what his finances are. They'll find out when he dies. Sucks to hear that but thats the reality...very cut and dry. He can do whatever he wants if he owns it. Either way...they'll find out upon his death and then everyone can start fighting over money as usual.

If the SIL's had any cojones they/you would have told him decades ago if he ever wanted to see his daughter/s again he'll need to change. Its what my FIL did to his MIL a long time ago...she was nasty and he flat out told her she'll never see them or her grandkids unless she stops acting like a b*tch. She changed. Everything was still always about her but she wasnt nasty to her daughter anymore.

Last edited by rennigade; 09-26-2017 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:05 AM
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So ... your wife's grandmother is deceased? It will probably be just as important for you to see the accounting of her estate's assets as the will. What are the estate laws in the state she lived/died? Do all estates go through probate in that state? And if so, are the wills and accounting of the estate's assets then public record? If so, how can you access them? Do you have to go to the Probate Court and file paperwork and pay a fee? That is where I would start, researching the laws of that state (or the county).

As far as your FIL's will or financial matters, unless your wife and the other offspring can persuade him to share some information, I think you need to forget about it. It is his right to not disclose. What does your WIFE want? If she wants some specific information, she can ask him, and he can decline if he chooses.

P.S. - If your wife and her sisters are content to let FIL's wife #2 deal with everything that has to do with his care & finances, my straight-up advice to you is to let that be the decision. Don't stir up trouble between you and your wife or between your wife and her sisters. Focus on getting info on the grandmother's estate (but you may want to first make sure your wife is on board with you digging in to that).

Last edited by scfr; 09-26-2017 at 08:11 AM. Reason: P.S. added
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:05 AM
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I mean, if they are named parties in the document, don't they have a legal right to take a peek?
Nope. They do not. Not until after he dies and that will is executed.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:15 AM
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It sounds like FIL's mother has passed. If that's the case, I would talk to whoever handled the estate about seeing a copy of that will and verifying that it's being followed.

As for the FIL's will and finances, it's really entirely up to him about whether or not to share that information. Given how you describe him, I think it's unlikely anyone is going to earn anything. The best the sisters can do is to let him know that if he would like their financial help in his later years, he needs to let them know in advance so they can plan.

Unless you learn that the farm is definitely going to the sisters someday, I would not plan on getting much in the way of assets when he passes. Let it be a pleasant surprise if they inherit anything.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:22 AM
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I'm not too concerned about inheritance. My main concern is paying for dementia care. If wife #2 says "I'm outta here", do the sisters then pay for all of that? I'm just wondering how they can ascertain his financial situation.

Other than us, this whole family is a bunch of non-planners. Everything is by-the-seat-of-the-pants, reactionary, impulsive, emotion driven.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:27 AM
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What do you guys recommend? What should his kids do? Any way they can legally get their hands on the will(s)? I mean, if they are named parties in the document, don't they have a legal right to take a peek? Any other advice?
I honestly can't offer much in the way of advice for working with your FIL, besides saying that a crotchety, bitter, stubborn old man can only really be influenced by those that he loves or for whom he has at least some affection. His wife & daughters are probably the only people can influence what he does in the slightest.

But to at least answer the will questions... the short answer is "No". Under no circumstances does anyone have a legal right to view a person's will besides that person himself. He can choose to divulge the content of the will or show it to people if he likes, but no one can force him to do so. There's a number of reasons for this, but the biggest 2 reasons are:
1) The will is a confidential document between an individual (client) and his/her attorney. The document is protected by lawyer-client confidentiality until the client's death. Even then, it doesn't become public record until the estate is filed & probate is initiated.
2) If heirs (or presumed heirs) were given a legal right to view a person's will, the heirs (or excluded presumed heirs) could exert undue influence on the individual to modify the provisions of the will...which is shockingly common & shockingly easy in a person's old age. Besides, a person can change the will at any time for any reason, so it wouldn't really do much good to force access to the will, because the individual could change it whenever desired.

As for dealing with his finances & getting his estate in order... The best option is to convince him to discuss it all with a lawyer to get the estate prepared, which if done properly, can make the probate process much simpler by establishing in advance where all of his assets/liabilities are held, and potentially using trusts, etc. to reduce any potential tax hit. In the extreme, he could theoretically be declared incompetent by the court, but it would require a finding by his doctors, and the action can be contested. An administrator would have to be named, which could be his spouse, a child, or another competent individual. But if he's unwilling to do any of these things... There's not alot that can be done against his will.

One last note, regarding your wife's grandmother... Has she already died? Was her estate ever probated? If her estate was probated, her will & estate would be accessible as public record. But if that never occurred, her will would need to be produced and probated in order to be legally binding and enforceable. Even then, your FIL can't officially assume title to any of her assets until her estate is opened and probated. If her will is never produced (whether lost, destroyed, or even intentionally hidden), her estate would be parsed according to your state's laws -- typically, to the spouse if living, or if not, equally among living children. If he knows that he was written out of the will, it could be in his interest to intentionally hide/destroy/"lose" her will, which would preclude the will from taking effect. If you believe this is what happened, the only option would be to search his belongings, find the original copy of the will, present it for probate. Theoretically, the will could be contested, in which case the heirs would have to prove that the presented will was, in fact, her last, FINAL will prior to her death, and that the will is legally valid.
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Last edited by kork13; 09-26-2017 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by TexasHusker View Post
I'm not too concerned about inheritance. My main concern is paying for dementia care. If wife #2 says "I'm outta here", do the sisters then pay for all of that? I'm just wondering how they can ascertain his financial situation.

Other than us, this whole family is a bunch of non-planners. Everything is by-the-seat-of-the-pants, reactionary, impulsive, emotion driven.
It sounds like the strategy you came up with for dealing with your own father's dementia care were really sound. Were you and your wife making those plans and decisions together, as a COUPLE? If so, then I'll bet she has learned a lot, things that may help her deal with coming up with a plan for her own father's care (should that day come). If you have been keeping her out of those decision-making processes, then you are causing her to miss out on a great learning opportunity, and I suggest you figure out a way to get her involved.
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Old 09-26-2017, 08:42 AM
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It sounds like the strategy you came up with for dealing with your own father's dementia care were really sound. Were you and your wife making those plans and decisions together, as a COUPLE? If so, then I'll bet she has learned a lot, things that may help her deal with coming up with a plan for her own father's care (should that day come). If you have been keeping her out of those decision-making processes, then you are causing her to miss out on a great learning opportunity, and I suggest you figure out a way to get her involved.
I always communicate with my wife our strategy, and she definitely weighs in big time. The problem is, with regard to her father, she is dealing with three other sisters who have little-to-no financial planning ability. Two of those three are dead broke. One is quite wealthy due to the fact that her husband is a rancher and owns MASSIVE amounts of land (I'm talking like 30 sections!).
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:04 AM
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The care planning belongs primarily to your FIL and his wife right now, of course. I can understand them feeling like family are prying if they wish to keep their finances private.

Your wife might have to accept that should her father need long term care, it might have to be nothing close to the best money can buy.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:38 AM
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I always communicate with my wife our strategy, and she definitely weighs in big time. The problem is, with regard to her father, she is dealing with three other sisters who have little-to-no financial planning ability. Two of those three are dead broke. One is quite wealthy due to the fact that her husband is a rancher and owns MASSIVE amounts of land (I'm talking like 30 sections!).
If it would be helpful to your wife, she could come up with a plan NOW that outlines how she would be willing to help out in the future if her help is needed/requested, independent of what her sisters do. It could be a simple half-page, high-level (not too detailed) brainstorming sheet that she files away for future reference. Hopefully she'd run her plan by you so that you could weigh in. It's actually really helpful to think about these things before the moment of crisis hits.
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:04 AM
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All good feedback - thank you.

This is a very weird - if not sick - family situation. Mental illness, past and possibly present abuses by FIL of various and most heinous kinds, etc.

TOXIC and deranged might be the best adjectives.

It's way out there for sure, and some really strange dynamics. All shrouded in secrecy, although truth leaches to the surface occasionally.
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Last edited by TexasHusker; 09-26-2017 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:28 AM
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Unless there is some clause in there that grants control to someone else should your FIL become incapacitated, there is probably no way to gain access.

Sounds like nothing will be able to be dealt with until FIL passes. At that point, probably best to step back as far as possible and let the rest of the family fight it out.

When my grandmother had to be put into assisted living due to dementia, the siblings sold her house and handed over all of her assets to the assisted living facility. They also get her SS checks for the rest of her days. Not sure if your wife's siblings can come together and agree to something similar if it gets to that point with the FIL.
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:07 PM
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One is quite wealthy due to the fact that her husband is a rancher and owns MASSIVE amounts of land (I'm talking like 30 sections!).
Land rich and cash poor?
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Old 09-26-2017, 01:24 PM
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Land rich and cash poor?
Haha I think he's got plenty of cash too - last time I went with him to buy a new truck, he busted the cash out of his front pocket.

Dude could buy and sell me several times over.
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Old 09-26-2017, 01:35 PM
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Wow, it's pretty difficult to make plans for elder care in a dysfunctional family. Why does DW believe here grandmother's land was 'entailed,' merely in 'use' to father? Were there any documents she can access pertinent to grandmother's estate, will or probate? To the best of your knowledge has the farm been financially productive all these years? Is there any evidence that DW's dad mortgaged the property to access any wealth to use as he desired?

Has the issue of father's health been discussed between the sisters? What is the consensus of opinion? Has anyone of the group talked to wife #2? What is her opinion of health factors? Do you know his family doctor? Can DW mention or send a letter explaining her concerns as a 'heads up'? Is there a family history of dementia?

What elder care is available in the county? What are the costs?
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Old 09-26-2017, 01:49 PM
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- There is a family history of dementia

- All of the sisters have noted the dementia symptoms, as well as wife #2. Wife #2 says he refuses to see a doctor. A couple of sisters have spoken with him about seeing a doctor, and he's obstinate.

- I asked my wife if they have let his doctor know, and they have not. Although she thinks this could be a good idea.

- Before her death, my wife's grandmother told her that all of her farm land - around 700 acres - was to go straight to the grandchildren, but that her son could have use of the land for the remainder of his life. However, none of the sisters has seen that will. My wife's dad possesses it, but will not allow anyone to see it. The sisters are afraid to call the attorney to get a copy of the will, because he will then call their dad and all hell will break loose. My best guess is that since he's hiding the will, he's hiding whatever the will calls for. He's a genius at this.

- There are nursing facilities, etc. in his town, though they are pretty sketchy.

- The farm is certainly productive - my wife's dad is leasing out out to a a grand niece's husband on a share crop basis. I think it makes a lot of money.

I think someone mentioned earlier to just stand back and stay out of the fracus. That may be the best strategy. He doesn't want us involved - so be it. If has pissed away his savings, then the state can take care of him - that's his deal. If he has lots of $$$ and can pay for it, all the better.

Certainly I want him to receive good care - after all he is the dad of my wife - but you can only help when people want help.
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Last edited by TexasHusker; 09-26-2017 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 06:51 AM
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Like others have eluded to, I don't think there is much that can be done in FIL won't speak about it and share information.

About all that can be done is discussion between family members so that nobody is surprised when the inevitable happens. Meanwhile, hope some shyster doesn't get close to him and take advantage of the situation.
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Old 09-27-2017, 07:37 AM
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Like others have eluded to, I don't think there is much that can be done in FIL won't speak about it and share information.

About all that can be done is discussion between family members so that nobody is surprised when the inevitable happens. Meanwhile, hope some shyster doesn't get close to him and take advantage of the situation.
That would be two shysters together.
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Old 09-27-2017, 08:37 AM
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It sounds like sisters have a decent relationship and possibly have friendly communications with wife #2. Whoever is nearest, might check county land records to ensure taxes are paid up to date on 700 acres and review any probate details that are public record.

Wife #2 might find it helpful to begin documenting erratic behaviour she and daughters notice to support filing for court ordered care when needed sometime in the future. FIL must be convinced to have an updated Will, Health Care directive and trust someone with POA or the government will take over the decision making and he certainly won't like those results! Is there anyone in the community your FIL trusts?
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