Estate planning and elder lawyers in Houston hear it all the time: “My sister is taking advantage of my elderly parents!” “My brother takes and takes, and my parents just give him more!” “My parents only see what one sibling does for them and have cut the rest of us off!” These are just a few variations on a theme that comes up all the time in estate planning lawyers’ offices across Texas.
What can you do when you feel like a sibling is taking advantage of your elderly parents? Unfortunately, the answer is not an easy one. Usually, you will have to go to court. Going through court proceedings is not going to improve relations any between you and the sibling, so it is probably only the best course of action when you are really concerned about your parents’ best interest. That said, there are also times when you may want to protect your part of an estate before it has been spent by or reallocated to an unscrupulous sibling. In those situations, though, the family relationship is probably already strained to the point that court proceeding will likely worsen things.
In order to bring these problems to the court’s attention, there are a few approaches that can be taken. For example, you may feel that you need to file for a conservatorship for your parents. If the court agrees, they will take your parents out of control of their own decisions. This can be limited to personal and medical decisions and/or financial decisions, depending on the parents’ needs. When the conservatorship is granted, it may also be necessary to request that the courts suspend any acting agents and trustees to stop the abuse of power.
You and your Houston estate planning lawyer or other attorney may determine that a trust petition is a better course of action. In these situations, you petition the court under trusts codes. You will also ask for an accounting and for the sibling to removed from his or her role. Oftentimes, you may find that you need to go for both the conservatorship and the trust petition.
Deepening a family rift is not the only reason to think twice about taking legal action, though. Both of these choices are time consuming and expensive, and there is no guarantee that things will work out the way you want them to. At the end of the day, your siblings are still your siblings and your parents are still your parents.
If you are unsure of whether or not this is the right direction for protecting your parents from a preying sibling, you may very well want to discuss your options with an estate planning or elder lawyer in Houston. They will be able to advise you on the repercussions of your choices and to identify the best route to meet your goals.
Kimberly Hegwood is an estate planning and elder lawyer in Houston, Texas. The attorneys at Hegwood & Associates represent individuals and families throughout the Greater Houston, TX area, including Friendswood, Webster, League City, Galveston, Pearland, Angleton, Sugar Land, Katy, Missouri City, Alvin, Dickinson, Pasadena, Deer Park, Texas City, La Marque, Seabrook, Kemah, San Leon, La Prote and Santa Fe. Our estate and elder law attorneys also represent clients in the communities of Harris County, Galveston County and Bazoria County. To schedule a complimentary consultation for yourself or a loved one, please call (281) 218-0880.