Elderly in Laws Asking for Financial Help!

Updated on October 11, 2014
M.W. asks from Rosemount, MN
23 answers

I need advice on the best way to handle a situation with my in-laws! My in-laws are in their mid 70's and my mother in law just went to live in a nursing home 6 months ago. Her and her husband both are alcoholics and have been very irresponsible with their money! They filed for bankruptcy about a year ago. My father in law claims that that they filed for bankruptcy due to him supporting his son, his wife and their daughter, both of whom do not not work. My father in law tells us that he paid for their $500,000 home and has bought them several vehicles over the years. My father in laws son and wife say this is not true. My husbands sister also said this is not true. So that is some background info. A couple weeks ago my father in law called my husband while he was at work while he was at a car dealership and said, "I am buying a new car and I am going to need you to co-sign." He wanted him to go to the car dealership right then and there and co-sign. My husband said that he was a work and was busy and could not leave. Later after work my husband called him and he said he didn't need him to co-sign, that he had "figured something out". Today he called my husband and asked him to pay for his mother's dental bill for over $2000! He said that she needs a bunch of teeth pulled and dentures. I told my husband that he needs to says no. $2000 is a lot a money for us and will put a huge strain on us. Also I believe if he does pay it that we are setting our selves up for him to continue to come to us and ask for financial help. We are an average middle class hard working family with 3 kids, we aren't rich. I told my husband to tell my father in law to talk to the dental office to arrange a payment plan or talk to the social worker at the nursing home. I feel like my husband is leaning toward giving him the money. Advice on how to deal with this!

UPDATE: Medicare is pay for my mother in law to be at the nursing home. Actually it is my husband's step father and mother that I am talking about. Step father in law's son with the $500,000 house is my husband step brother. And yes the car he recently bought is brand new. Sorry to confuse anyone. I was trying to make a long story short.

ANOTHER UPDATE- yes they are confirmed alcoholics by a medical doctor. Both have been in and out of detox and treatment more times than I can count. Both have liver issues because of it. I do not dislike my in laws but they have cause us an enormous amount of stress over the 15 years since I have met my husband and right now I am feeling very stressed out!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE- We talked to the social worker at the Nursing Home today. She did verify that my MIL did go to the dentist a couple days ago and does need to have several teeth pulled. She does need dentures, but she also said my MIL has 2 sources of insurance. She has an appointment to have the work done. A claim will be filed with both insurance companies. There may or may not be an outstanding balance after the claims ho through. There's no way to know right now if there will be an outstanding balance and how much that would be if there is one. Could take months for everything to be processed. Now I don't understand why my husband's stepfather chose to burden us with this now, rather that wait and see how much if anything was owed in the end. My husband keeps saying this is my mom and if there is a bill I will pay it even if it is over $2000! I don't get that either. She is getting the work regardless of who pays the outstanding balance if there even is one! The only one who would benefit from us paying the outstanding balance would be his stepfather and at the expense of us and our kids!

What can I do next?

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Featured Answers


answers from Washington DC on

My husband's family asks for help a lot too. Not so much anymore because we have said no enough times. Why? Because we don't have it. Yes, we live in a nice house, drive nice cars, take vacations. But we do have some debt, we don't have a huge savings, and we have 3 growing children. I don't have thousands to give to anyone. We help when we can, but it's not often. And honestly, they don't ask often either. It's just weird for me, because my parents ask if we need help if they see us tight, and his family asks...such as it is I guess.

I think I would TRY to help, but pay the dentist directly, not his parents.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You don't give a drunk a drink.
Offer to help him make a budget.
List all bills. Plan it out.
Maybe his son could sell that 500,000 house? lol

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

This is a disaster in the making. You and your husband need to sit down and have a very frank conversation about his parents.

Something isn't right here. Has she even been to the dentist? I would most definitely not just hand over $2000 to FIL.

You and your husband need details about everything. How is the nursing home being paid? Medicare? MIL then should be able to get some of the cost covered under Medicare. Nursing homes aren't cheap, I know, my mom is in one. So, again, if he filed for bankruptcy, they have no money yet he just bought a new car. Something is missing here.

Medical expenses come before new cars. That is something FIL needs to learn.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I would NOT pay for their bills. What I would offer is to pay for their first meeting with a financial planner, who can sort through their mess and figure out what they need to be doing to get their financial situation in order.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

At age 70 they are eligible for MEDICARE/MEDICAID and dental coverage under MEDICAID. http://www.medicaid.gov/Medicaid-CHIP-Program-Information...

I honestly think they're trying to swindle your family for $2,000. Absolutely not. Do not sign financial documents in their name, do not give them money, do not feel guilty. It sounds like they're STILL making poor financial choices. After 70 years, y'all aren't going to stop them, but you don't have to contribute to it either. As OnePerfectOne said, you don't give a drunk a drink.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Most importantly you and hubby need to discuss this and make sure you both agree on how to handle the situation.

Personally, I would not give them a dime. If they have money for a new car (I'm assuming this is not a used car), then they have money for medical expenses. Also, part of the dental costs should be covered by medicare. The best type of help you can give is to assist him with a budget. If money is really tight you can help them out by providing a few meals.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think someone needs to step in and get power of attorney over their finances.

When was their last physical? Have they been checked for dementia? I would suggest to start there.

They are in the late stages of alcoholism, and who knows how much brain damage they have from that and from their liver deterioration..

Someone needs to step in so they are not taken advantage of.

I would call an elder care attorney for a free consultation to see what the options are for you guys to protect yourselves and them.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Dealing with irresponsible elderly parents is so hard on their kids. And you have the added burden of dealing with their alcohol addiction. Someone might want to file a power of attorney to get control of their finances. If your mother is in a nursing home, Medicare will pay for 100 days and then it stops. If she needs to be there, then family comes up with money or they file for Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid won't pay anything until the couples funds are exhausted. What type of bankruptcy did they file? Medicaid looks very closely at money transactions over the last five years so that people can not attempt to hide money or assets by transferring them out of their names. I don't know when or even if they bought step brother a house or whether the car purchase would be considered transferring assets. Medicare usually does not pay for any dental work. Don't commit to pay for anything - you might want to talk to a social worker at the nursing home and see what options might be available. Good luck!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

You and your husband make a united front and both say
"No, we can't do that. We need the money we earn and we don't lend or give any of it away".
Repeat as necessary.

If you give them a rusty nickel they WILL bleed you dry - and then blithely find another source to suck dry.
They don't care if they ruin your life.
They don't care if they ruin their lives.
You can not enable them.
They make their choices and spend spend spend.
So they need to face the consequences when their house of cards falls down around their ears.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Medicare only pays for 100 days of nursing home care. She should have other insurance. Usually nursing home has a dentist they use that the state will pay for, if she has Medicaid. So I would investigate that and not pay dental bill. Was this done before nursing home or while she was in nursing home. Makes a difference.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Do not give them money, without looking at their finances.

I am talking tax returns, their bills and their checking and savings.

This man sounds like he is pulling something and it will not end well.

Also remember "You can loan money to family, but do not expect to ever have it paid back.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

They will figure it out. I'm not following your story. Is 'the son' with the $500k house your husband's brother?

Don't pay for dental. We were nice and did this years ago for an in-law. That person went back and got work done (no job/money) about year or 2 later. Since my husband pay them years ago in the past, the dental group (Western Dental) decide to call us non stop and wanted to send us to collections. It was a nightmare to make them stop calling us. I mean NIGHTMARE. Even if it is not legal, this company could have hurt our credit. The dental places deal with desperate people all the time and if they can find a wallet that will take from it.

The in-law did not tell the dental company to charge us and did not realize we were being harassed until we told that person. I believe her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Are they alcoholics in YOUR OPINION or have they been diagnosed as being alcoholics?? It's obvious you don't like your in-laws. This will cause a rift in your marriage if you don't get on the same page with your husband.

There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in between. It doesn't matter if they helped purchase your brother in laws home. Yes, you can judge on past actions, but truth be told, you will not know if they helped or not.

Bankruptcy? That's a tough call. I can't imagination a court a would grant a bankruptcy for the reason given.

I like the suggestions about looking at their financials. Otherwise, you are enabling them to continue to make bad financial decisions.

Tyler and I do not loan money out we cannot afford to lose. That's OUR stance as we got screwed over in the beginning of our marriage for "loaning" a friend money. From that point forward, anything over $100? We discuss and decide together.

If your in-laws have made poor financial choices in the past, please know you cannot change their behavior now. Please talk with your husband. Make a decision together.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Does your brother-in-law seem to live in a half-million dollar house? Does he have a job that would allow him to do that, and does he drive new cars?

Since your MIL went into a nursing home, what are the arrangements? Is medicare paying for her care?

I wouldn't say no outright to helping them, but first I'd have a family meeting, and I'd insist on knowing details: who's paying for the nursing home, what is the bankruptcy status, look at the dental exam and the dentist's recommendation, what health insurance do they have? What financial shape are your in-laws in, such as bills owed, bills being paid on time, savings, health insurance, etc.

Unless your FIL is completely transparent, then you don't help. If he is willing to share everything and he's bankrupt but buying cars and houses and not providing for your MIL's care, then you don't help.

No details, no information, no help. If he won't allow you to talk with the nursing home with him present, or if he won't allow you to be present when he asks the dentist's office about the planned procedure, then no help should be offered.

If you ask someone for money, you should be willing to be up front about exactly what the needs are and what the resources are. Maybe that will give your husband some peace of mind: your're not saying no, you're just saying you need information to make an informed decision about such a large amount of money, and to make sure the money is being well-spent.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


This is a tough place to be in. I know, I've been there with my in-laws who are now both deceased.

When my Mother in Law died in 2006, we paid $5K for her funeral as my FIL didn't have it. I was a tid bit miffed because my husband didn't talk to me about it before he wrote the check - but I also understand why he did it.

If you CANNOT afford to help your in-laws, then you have to say - I'm sorry - we cannot afford this. Your in-laws obviously need financial help. Maybe you can offer to sit down with them and see what they can and cannot afford - IF and only if your FIL will open his books/accounts to you so you can help him that way.

Many banks now offer financial advisors - maybe your husband needs to sit down with his dad and find out what is really going on and find out if he has his estate together. The last thing the family needs is for them to die and have nothing in writing. Does this mean you want your FIL to die? NO! Of Course not!! But you need to know what his wishes are, what is where and all that other jazz....

Most importantly - you and your husband MUST be on the same page about this. Money is the #1 reason for couples to fight and divorce and family can be a close 2nd and depending upon the situation? #1. So talk WITH your husband - NOT TO - him and find out what his heart and mind are saying.

While you may be saying one thing right now - how fast would you be to help your parents out if they asked??? So think about that as you deal with this situation..and if you say "My parents won't ask" - NEVER say NEVER.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that mom's dental would be covered by her medicare. They do pay for some dental work. It's probably time to let dad know you don't have any money, that it's all spent each month on your own bills.

But be prepared, he may be homeless and needing to move in a short time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well, if I was your husband, and my mother needed help paying for her teeth I'd do it. I wouldn't hold elderly parents to account over how much wine they'd consumed.

We are a family which helps out wherever and whenever we can- financially and otherwise. If we don't have the money, or our time is already committed, then we tell each other,'I'm really sorry, I just don't have the money/time at the moment,'.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Sounds like a nightmare. I'm so sorry you are going through this.

The stepfather has his own child - the stepbrother to your husband. Your FIL is apparently lying about what he did for this child and his family, or he's so delusional from the alcoholism that he's confused.

If your husband gets along with his stepbrother, and both brothers agree to sit down with your FIL and a certified financial planner who can go over his tax returns, assets, expenses (including Mom in the nursing home and her dental bills), that's one thing. But believing someone who keeps calling with one immediate crisis after another is a huge mistake.

I would in no way give money to the FIL. If your husband wants to pay his mother's dental bill, then your FIL should tell the dentist to forward the bill to your husband for review. But the check gets sent to the dentist and not to the FIL. Not while money is being spent on a killer drug like alcohol. You don't feed the addiction.

And no co-signing on anything like a car loan or anything else. This is your children's future.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Haven't read what the others have said but if he can afford a new car he can pay the dental bill for mother in law. You are right to worry. Once you start giving there will be no end to it. Stand your ground on this. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Your husband feels obligated, but if the FIL can buy a new car, he should have directed those funds to cover the dental bill. I would suggest they figure out what Medicare/aid/insurance will cover and try to help them in meeting the balance. I find that when you start filling in the financial gaps for family members, you become the answer to all their financial problems.

My husband went through this for years with his family. He even had a cousin (that he just reconnected with in the last year) contact him to ask if he could loan her son (who he has never met and doesn't know) $700 to pay his rent because he is getting evicted. How absurd is that? I was like, "NO!" But that's how his family is and has always been. In the past, he would loan/give money out until he finally caught on that he is not helping them at all and they only saw him as an "ATM". Giving people money doesn't solve their money problems. This is why I do not loan or borrow money, period.

Plus, I think the FIL is being deceitful to get the cash.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I'm seeing this late, M.. This is the crux of your problem - "My husband keeps saying this is my mom and if there is a bill I will pay it even if it is over $2000"...

You need to get your husband to marriage counseling NOW before your husband co-signs loans and pays for bills for them. If you do not get on the same page, you will end up in debt for them.

Your husband is being emotional right now. This is NOT helpful. There is a way to help and there is a way to NOT help. If I were you, I'd move mountains to get him in counseling with you, even if it meant opening up a single bank account at another bank and moving all your joint money into it. It would cause a HUGE fight between you, but you could tell him that unless he goes to marriage counseling, you won't move the money back. I know it sounds mean, but it might just force the issue.


answers from Dallas on

Oh how horrible this is for you and your husband. Doesn't medicare pay a portion of dental? Just wondering? I agree what you told your husband that they need to make arrangements with the Dental Office.

I think they will continue to asked, but if you keep saying no, they will do it less.

Tough love is hard, especially when it to our parents.



answers from Minneapolis on

pappa tryin to scam you guys-tell him bank is closed!! their bills are not your problem..tell em your broke..tell hubby nursing home will handle it..ok-run...

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