My husband discovered that his brother, who’s his only sibling, had been taking money fraudulently from their mother's bank account.
She’s in a long-term care home and her sons shared Power of Attorney (POA).
His brother lives a couple of hours away in the same town as their mother, so he became the trusted family member who’d look after any of her needs that were not provided by the home.
However, a sizeable amount was taken in cash withdrawals, credit-card payments and purchases that weren’t made by an elderly woman in long-term care. The thefts occurred over almost two years.
My husband had his brother write a letter of apology and put back most of the money.
In return, he didn’t have him charged with fraud and had him give up the POA position he’d abused. My husband is now sole POA for his mom.
This incident has caused a family rift. Their grown children have only heard their parent's version of what happened.
Do I discuss this with their children or say nothing so that they’ll try to continue to live their lives as before?
My children and immediate and extended family have seen the correspondence and know the facts.
I'm reticent to offer these to the brother’s children because I don't want to destroy the relationship that still exists between my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their adult children.
Stuck For an Answer
This is a tough situation for a once-close family to handle.
Your husband acted generously by not having his brother charged. Yet I wonder if there was a conversation between them that explained the brother’s actions, e.g. a financial debt he didn’t know how to meet, a period of gambling, etc.
An honest confession of why he stole the money might’ve made it easier for all to get past. Of course, re-payment was still essential as it’s needed for their mother’s costs of care.
Instead of talking to his children, I’d consider – and I know it may be difficult – reaching out to his wife.
You and she could stay above the focus on theft and talk instead about how to help her family heal and rise above family/community embarrassment.
Perhaps more people already know this story than was/is necessary.
Your husband’s brother made a bad mistake. Now that it’s been corrected, your close and extended family could try rising above the rift.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding cheating:
“I was a fool. My husband and I were married for over 30 years. He worked with our local politician as a volunteer to get her elected.
“I questioned why the meetings continued after she won the election. I opened his phone first-time ever, and saw emails and texts from her waiting for him to leave me and cursing him because it hadn’t happened yet.
“I was shocked and told him to leave, which was their plan way ahead of me. They’d carried on a three-year affair behind my back.
“This woman challenged me when I stood up for my family via emails. She shared them with her family and staff to bully me, accost me in a restaurant, even send the police to me.
“Now I’ve heard that they possibly split. She destroyed my family. My life has forever changed, as has that of my children.
“Women, seek single men. Don’t listen to married men who are already lying to their wives. They’re lying to you, too. And you become a cheater to the wife.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding a future mother-in-law who makes it clear that her son’s fiancée isn’t good enough (August 16):
“I was too eager to please when repeated comments were made about my hair and when perceived flaws were pointed out in front of family members I barely knew, with expectation that I change and/or apologize.
“I was raised to respect my elders and therefore "laughed off" these slights. I tried to be more attentive, appreciative, communicative.
“Decades later, I realized I’d created a monster. She’d never accept me and I didn’t deserve constant insults.
“My husband agreed. He called her on it, and supported me in removing myself from direct conversations alone with her.
“If I only I’d brought this resolution to the table in the early days, many tears and self-criticism would’ve been spared.
“This woman should stand up for herself as respectfully as possible while also shutting down the barbs aimed at her.”
Tip of the day:
When an ugly incident divides a once-close family, healing the cause is as important as sharing the information.