advice please - messy family situation after mum's death — Scope | Disability forum
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advice please - messy family situation after mum's death

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Jenwren
Jenwren Community member Posts: 3 Listener
Hi

This is my first time posting. I'm honestly not sure what section to post to because it combines family, money and benefits, if it doesn't belong here I apologise and will remove it.

Also apologies for the length in advance. It's a messy situation I'm in, mostly financial but I'm putting a bit of backstory (sorry).

Basically my Mum died at the end of May this year from dementia. I was her live in carer until she was sectioned and had to go into care (which I feel horribly guilty about). My stepdad has alzheimers and has carers 4 times a day, has no memory and I have safe guarding concerns that I feel are often ignored. He has an army of people - physio, district nurses, cathethar nurses etc. Social Services has said he cannot go into a care home, and he has no savings for this. His daughter comes round to visit weekly, but if there's any problems e.g. with cathetars etc (there's been a lot) I have to sort out. I'm getting worried about him doing something at night as thanks to physio he's now shuffling around the house (he has his own small annex within the house but doesn't stay in there). He always thinks there's people in the house or the carers never visit - honestly I went though it with mum, and I don't have the energy with him.

I don't have a good relationship with him - he has been passive agressive and bullying to me for years - he's also a mood hoover and has always created a miserable environment and I'm pretty sure he's resented me living here and not moving out (I was looking after mum) and I feel like the house (which my mum solely owned) has now become a giant nursing home for him, I stay up in my bedroom otherwise carers, nurses etc try to rope me into taking care of him. When carers aren't here, I'm constantly anxious because he's a falls risk and he's doing stupid, risky stuff. Basically he isn't safe to live by himself. He's restless at night, I have to deal with the phone calls, the nurses etc despite his own children having LPA. I'm too mentally exhausted from my mum. I also have CFS, ADHD and anxiety/depression. I'm on ESA (my only income, I'm in support group) and am currently applying for PIP.

My stepdad has to pay towards his care, and this has turned out to be a lot (£820 per month). He is also currently paying utilities (£774 per month). I pay for all the food, household items and repairs (the house is old and constantly needs repairs) which often wipes out my ESA. They say this because the house has been left to me by mum (my stepdad said he'd move out but neither made any plans for what would happen if either of them got sick/disabled). They also didn't have a good marriage but that's all been ignored. I feel shoved out and unwanted in my own home, as if I no longer matter. It really hurts because I've tried really hard to help my step-sister as I know how awful it is to have a parent with alzheimers. Prior to my mum's death I paid rent but stopped because I was paying for everything for my mum despite them having a joint account my stepdad wouldn't pay for anything for her.

My step-siblings have now told me that I have to pay the utilities in future, and that the council have told them because the house is now 'in my name' I have to pay the council tax (they were trying to get a discount for their dad) I know on the surface this seems very reasonable, but I can't afford them. A lot of people's answer is I'm being lazy on ESA, I should get off it and get a job. I wish it was that simple. I'm just a mess of anxiety, pain, depression and I'm still not over my mum. I also lost my sister eight years ago (car crash) and my mum was suicidal for years so I had to look after her before the Alzheimers kicked in.

To make matters more complicated my mum's will is in probate, and is currently frozen by my eldest, estranged brother having put a cavaet on it, and the executor (mum's lawyer) is refusing for whatever reason to challenge/get rid of the cavaet and says there is nothing she can do about probate now (we have IHT to pay and I'm scared we'll get so many late fees/interest - the house is our sole assest) and keeps contradicting the advice she gives us - worse she's a senior partner in the firm and due to retire so I feel there's no one I can complain to about her. The house is also to be left to me in a discretionary trust, so I'm not sure if it'll even technically *belong* to me.

I just have no clue what to do. I'm scared. I was planning on getting some lodgers in the house to help but I can't do that with ESA - well I can, but I can only keep £20 per week.

I just feel lost, drained, I miss my mum and sister so much, they were my best friends. I'm just not sure what to do. I hate not pulling my weight financially but I just can't afford the house bills (I want to sell the house for something much smaller but can't until probate is done). 

Sorry for the very long pity party. I probably sound pathetic, but if anyone has advice. I can't afford to talk to a lawyer and CAB said the situation was too complex.  I just wondered if anyone could offer advice? Or if I'm being stupid/unreasonable?
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Comments

  • Ada
    Ada Scope Member Posts: 13,889 Disability Gamechanger
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    I am sorry your suffering so much from many different directions. 
    And I am truly sorry I have no knowledge to advice you. But sure someone here will help you. 
    I just read what honestly isn’t a pity party but someone in need of advice and help. 
    I just nudged in to give you a warm welcome from me. And hope you stick around. 
    Sending hugs 🤗 
    ada x
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community member Posts: 11,614 Disability Gamechanger
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    Just to pick up one point I'm not sure why your stepdad can't go into a care home, he doesn't need savings to do so, my late mother in law didn't have two pennies to rub together but when her dementia got to the point where she wasn't safe at home she ended up in a really nice home which she paid for with her state pension but was allowed to keep £23 per week.
    2024 The year of the general election...the time for change is coming 💡

  • Kimmy87
    Kimmy87 Community member Posts: 312 Pioneering
    edited December 2023
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    Without the means to pay Social Services decide when/if he goes into a care home - aka when they will pay for this. 

    Your mum was obviously deemed unsafe at home, whereas the gentleman in question has been deemed safe at home. 

    I could recount the experience of a friend, but I have no wish to depress OP further. 

    I'd suggest searching for affordable legal help:
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/legal-system/finding-free-or-affordable-legal-help/ 

    Also apply for Council Tax Reduction:
    https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction

    I'd be looking for board payment from your step father (or his LPA) for rent, utilities and food. He/they can't expect to live for free and you pay for everything.

    I would also suggest everytime there is a telephone call, or a carer/nurse approaches you, state all matters relating to your step dad are to be dealt with his LPA, give contact details and then hang up/walk away/close the door.
    Adopt the broken record technique - no discussion, no debate, just make that statement. 

    I know it must be very very difficult, but try and put yourself first. 
  • Hannah_Alumni
    Hannah_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,912 Disability Gamechanger
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    Hello @Jenwren

    Welcome to the community, I see our members have already help advise <3

    Firstly, I am so sorry about the loss of your mum. My condolences. If you feel you ever need to speak to someone, I encourage you to read the NHS Bereavement and Grief webpage. There are many services you can reach out to. 

    It does sound like a complex situation, but Citizen's Advice can help direct you with legal advice. It may be worth going back to ask them. 

    Thinking outside the box, I wondered if you had thought about reaching out to your MP? or attending one of their surgery days? They may be able to find advisors more locally to help support from the legal side to your stepfather's care. 
    Hannah - She / Her

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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  • MW123
    MW123 Scope Member Posts: 454 Pioneering
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    Jenwren said:
    Hi

    My step-siblings have now told me that I have to pay the utilities in future, and that the council have told them because the house is now 'in my name' I have to pay the council tax (they were trying to get a discount for their dad) I know on the surface this seems very reasonable, but I can't afford them. A lot of people's answer is I'm being lazy on ESA, I should get off it and get a job. I wish it was that simple. I'm just a mess of anxiety, pain, depression and I'm still not over my mum. I also lost my sister eight years ago (car crash) and my mum was suicidal for years so I had to look after her before the Alzheimers kicked in.

    To make matters more complicated my mum's will is in probate, and is currently frozen by my eldest, estranged brother having put a cavaet on it, and the executor (mum's lawyer) is refusing for whatever reason to challenge/get rid of the cavaet and says there is nothing she can do about probate now (we have IHT to pay and I'm scared we'll get so many late fees/interest - the house is our sole assest) and keeps contradicting the advice she gives us - worse she's a senior partner in the firm and due to retire so I feel there's no one I can complain to about her. The house is also to be left to me in a discretionary trust, so I'm not sure if it'll even technically *belong* to me.

    His daughter comes round to visit weekly, but if there's any problems e.g. with cathetars etc (there's been a lot) I have to sort out.

    @jenwren

    In light of your step-siblings asserting that you are solely responsible for the council tax while the house is still awaiting probate, inform them it's uncommon for a property, originally in the deceased's sole name, to be under anyone's name at this stage. The obligation for council tax after a person's death depends on the specific circumstances. If someone continues to reside at the property, the responsibility typically rests with the remaining occupants. 

    Regarding your probate question and brothers caveat. After someone's death, assets are essentially 'frozen' until a Grant of Probate is obtained, allowing the estate to be released to the appointed executor. A caveat on a will cannot freeze probate but causes delays, as it is a legal notice contesting the will's validity. The Probate Registry won't issue the grant until the caveat is resolved, leading to a delay. 

    The executor, who served as your late mother's solicitor, has a responsibility to keep beneficiaries informed about estate progress, including updates on the caveat challenge and any legal actions taken. While not legally required to answer every question, the executor is generally expected to provide information and communicate openly with beneficiaries, ensuring transparency and addressing concerns during the probate process. 

    If the house is left to you in a discretionary trust, it means that while you may benefit from living in the house or income generated by the property, you do not have outright ownership of it. The legal ownership of the house is vested in the trust, not directly in your name. The trustee has the authority to manage and control the property, including decisions about its use, maintenance, potential sale, or other actions. 

    Motivate your step-siblings to assume greater responsibility in tending to their father's needs, emphasising that maintaining the current level of responsibility poses challenges, particularly given your own health considerations and regrettably you are unable to sustain the current level of care without more support from them.  I hope things get resolved for you sooner rather than later. 

  • Lou67
    Lou67 Community member Posts: 7,132 Disability Gamechanger
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    @Jenwren
    Good morning I hope you’re doing as well as possible. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mum and sister.
    I don’t know the answers to your questions but I see you have been given some good advice.
    I really hope you can get things sorted out. I also think your step siblings are taking liberties not helping with their dad.
    I wish you well please look after yourself.

    Tale care ❤️

  • Rosie_Scope
    Rosie_Scope Posts: 2,177 Scope online community team
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    Hi @Jenwren, welcome to the community. I'm afraid I don't have any specific advice to offer, but it looks like you've had some good advice from others so far.

    I just wanted to pop in to say hello and offer my condolences. Really sorry to read that you've lost your mum and sister and been through so much stress lately. It's not pathetic or a pity party, we are all here to offer support when you're going through a hard time <3

    I hope things start getting easier for you soon.
    Rosie (she/her)

    Online Community Coordinator @ Scope

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