« Last post by sunkitten on Today at 12:29:26 PM »
Thanks, Latchkey, for your reply. I really appreciate it -- especially as my story is soooo long!
After my father went into the nursing home, there was a period of about 10 months where I was unemployed and couldn't go back to school. The deadline had passed for registration, and anyhow, I didn't have the money to pay for school and its associated costs. I decided to look for work instead. My father did give me a bit of money to get by during those months, but despite my providing evidence he did not believe that I could get out of paying my student loans through bankruptcy. As a result I fell further and further behind financially while looking for work. There was no way I would ever declare bankruptcy over my other debts, which were less than $2,000 at that point.
Meanwhile my uncle's younger stepdaughter (who I'll call N) had gotten my father's room number from her sister. She didn't visit him often, and until that time the only contact she ever had with him was when she and her husband paid my father yearly for the use of his land to go hunting. She would typically mail him a cheque. I don't recall her ever visiting our house since before her marriage more than thirty years before. Now, for the first time, he was living in the same city as she was, and she decided to use that opportunity to personally deliver his payment, and while she was at it, badmouth me to my father while acting "pleasant" with me. My father had already told me she was doing this. During the ten months I was looking for work, he didn't mention her very many times, and I knew she wasn't visiting him except when she wanted something.
N and her husband own a house just outside the city and also have their own auto repair business, run out of their home. They are both high-school dropouts who have been doing well financially. In June 2007 she stopped by my apartment to ask me to write out a cheque for taxes on my father's land. I couldn't figure out why the bill for the taxes was going to her house, since she had nothing to do with it. The bill should have been going to my father via me. I believe she contacted the township and requested the bills be sent to her instead. She was showing a lot of entitlement about the land my father owned and for some reason seemed to take it for granted that she would eventually own it upon my father's death. I remained polite to her during this conversation and mentioned that I was planning to apply at a company here, at which her daughter did and still does work.
Shortly after that I got the job and began an intense training period which left me very little time to run my father's errands. Since he'd moved in with me, he'd expected me to take him to the bank and other errands whenever he wanted, with disregard for my own schedule. I was his financial power of attorney at that point but did not use it; rather, when I took him to run his errands I would wait in the lobby for him in order not to intrude on his conversation. My father had been very secretive about his assets and also preferred to handle them himself as much as he was able. I had tried several times to discuss them with him, because as far as I knew I was his executor in his will and needed that information in order to be able to administer his estate after his death. I knew about his chequing account at one bank and about his investments, but that was all the information he gave me. He also did not want to discuss what he wanted for a funeral, or whether he wanted cremation. He told me before he went into the nursing home that my uncle had purchased two burial plots near my paternal grandparents' graves, originally intending them to be for himself and his wife, but when my uncle's wife passed away a couple of years before my uncle then made a verbal agreement with my father that each of them would have one of the plots. My uncle's stepdaughters had chosen to bury their mother near her first husband and first husband's family. When my mother and brother died, they were cremated but not interred; I don't know why my father chose not to inter them but realized that would eventually fall to me, along with burying my father himself.
Because I was in training for eight weeks, during the days Mon-Fri, I could no longer take my father out whenever he wanted it. After I started work on the production floor, my hours were even more inconvenient: 11 am - 9 pm. I also had to find a new apartment during that summer because the one I'd been living in was a university-owned building, and I was no longer a student. Every day off I had was filled with viewing various places and making applications out for them. My pay was very low, as it was an entry-level job, so it was difficult to find affordable places. My father's financial advisor contacted me while all this was happening, and told me my father had decided to convert his investments into an annuity which would go to him and me while he was still living, and exclusively to me upon his death. She needed copies of my driver's license and bank account information, which I provided to her. I was told the annuity would be deposited into my own bank account, and also told that I could claim it as income for the purpose of finding an apartment. As a result I found a nice two-bedroom place less than five minutes' drive from my father's nursing home. My father was well aware that I could not pay for it unless I received the annuity, and assured me it would go to me. His own income was well above what he needed to pay for his room, medications, cable, phone, etc., as he was getting old age pension on top of his military pension.
While I was working/trying to find a new apartment during the summer, my father called N and her husband asking them to take him out to the bank. They were only too happy to do this for him, and they also began questioning him about his finances, wanting details of what he had besides the land. On my father's part, there was a lot of complaining about me, and most of it centered around my "laziness" because I could not use my days off to take him out, nor could I lift him into the car. He also told them that I had limited power of attorney, and gave them the details they wanted about his assets. I felt this was unwise of my father to tell them about his financial information, because although N had been acquainted with him for many years she was in reality a relative stranger... my father did not know her adult children or grandchildren, and my uncle's stepdaughters had never given any indication that they considered my immediate family, much less my father, as a part of their own family. Neither of them contacted us after my mother died; we never saw or heard from them directly; and the only news we got about the stepdaughters and their families was through the occasional phone call from my uncle before he began experiencing dementia. So I was very concerned at this point that N and her husband were attempting to talk my father into disinheriting me and leaving not only the land, but everything else, to them. I also suspected that my father was telling them outright lies about me because he wanted them to come visit him, telling them what they wanted to hear. N and her husband hated me because I'd accused my father of molestation many years before, and I still don't know whether my mother ever told my uncle or his wife that my father had admitted it to her. If she did, it hadn't made a difference; they still refused to believe my father could do something like that.
My father had never had many friends apart from a couple my parents became friendly with while we'd lived overseas. He'd spent most of his time at home in front of the TV while working and after he'd retired, and besides his sometime-girlfriend J, didn't socialize with anyone else. This did not change when he went into the nursing home; instead of watching TV sometimes in the lounge with other residents, he stayed in his room. He didn't talk to his tablemates during meals, either. As a result he had no friends left and the only visitor for over a year was me. I was not aware at that point that my father had systematically and deliberately made me out to be a bad person to my uncle and his wife for many years, since I'd been a teen. I don't know what he told them, but they treated not only me, but also my mother, like lepers.
[He controlled my mother with money, and also did this to me later on. The summer I was twelve, my father kept a notebook in which he'd track every time my mother used the car for what he termed "not essential" things. My mother took my brother and me, along with our friends, to the beach several times and every time she did this, my father would take a dollar out of her "allowance" as punishment. He also accused my mother of cheating, which was patently false. We were not allowed to eat anything other than what he liked, and if any of us objected to eating something we didn't like (i.e. pickles) we were told, "You don't know you don't like it". I discovered pizza at a friend's house and loved it, but we were not allowed to order it at home because my father refused to eat it.
When my scoliosis began to be evident, around age eleven, I begged my father to let me go to the doctor. He told me it was just bad posture and totally ignored my pleas for several years, until it was so severe that it required surgery. When my permanent teeth grew in crooked, the dentist recommended I see an orthodontist, and my mother took me to one who said that I needed two baby teeth pulled before he could do anything. My father had our regular dentist pull the two teeth but would not let me get further orthodontic treatment, even though it would have been paid for through his military benefits. I was probably the only kid who actually welcomed the thought of getting braces. My teeth are still jacked today because of this. And the summer I was fifteen, we were at our remote cottage for a two week "vacation" when one of my remaining baby teeth developed an abscess. My face was very swollen, and I was in a lot of pain. My father refused to interrupt his vacation to take me home to see the dentist. We were not allowed regular dental visits according to him. The abscess luckily went away but it would be several years before I could get the damaged teeth pulled.]
My father's disease continued to progress while he was in the nursing home, and for some reason the staff doctor there (a general internist) decided my father's symptoms were due to a series of strokes, rather than the disease he'd been diagnosed with while in the hospital. They also started him on opiates for pain, as he was complaining a lot about pain in his legs. Sometimes when I'd go to see him, he seemed out of it and could barely talk. His disease manifested itself in a very hoarse and quiet voice, loss of fine motor skills, loss of the ability to walk. I began writing out his cheques for various payments and would bring them to him to sign, along with the bills, and would hold the cheque steady so he could sign it. As he got sicker, it became harder and harder for him to sign anything and it would take several minutes for him to do so. I also had difficulty hearing and understanding him on the phone and in person.
When I moved to my new place, I had a certain amount of money budgeted for the move. Because I'd been so busy working, and was in severe pain, the movers had to do most of the packing for me, which more than doubled the budget. They also refused to take the contents of the room my father had used while living with me because in the confusion, one of my cats had peed on the bedspread in there. I'd planned to pay my overdue phone bill and get a land line installed in my new place, but didn't have the money at that point to do so. Instead, when I told my father about this, he agreed that I should get a mobile phone instead, and he paid for that and a small 19" TV.
A couple of months after I'd started on the production floor at work, the car I was using (my father's car) developed more mechanical issues and became unsafe to drive. I had given the nursing home my cell phone number, and of course my father had it; the nursing home also had my new address. I told my father about having to take the car off the road, and why. He did not seem to understand that this meant his errands would need to be arranged in advance while I had no transportation, since the only alternative was the city's bus for disabled people and they required a two week notice. The next thing I knew, I got an email from N accusing me of not wanting to visit my father! My father had apparently called her again and asked her to take him places since I could not. He was well aware that not having transportation made it more difficult for me to visit and also to take him out, because I am disabled myself and cannot walk very far without being in severe pain. The regular bus system here did not have a bus stop close to the nursing home.
Then the demands started from N and her husband. They had gotten my new address somehow, and showed up at my new place -- and this is a security building, requiring visitors be buzzed in. They had buzzed the super, who they knew, and told her they needed to see me, claiming to be "family", and she let them in. I got a knock on my door one evening, and when I opened it, there were N and husband, demanding I give them my father's wallet, bankbook, financial papers, credit cards, chequebook, etc. After checking with my father, I gave them his bankbook only, nothing else, so they could take him to the bank. Since I was his financial POA I did not want them to have the other things they were demanding, as I did not trust their motives at all; they were telling my father they could take over from me, and offered their accountant's services as well as N's services as bookkeeper. It would have been one thing if they'd been around all along, but they had never bothered with my father until they became aware he had money, when he became terminally ill.
My father asked them to fix his car, so I could use it to visit him and get back and forth to work. I was using all the money I had to pay for cabs to get home at the end of my shift (which was then evenings ending at midnight), and certainly couldn't afford the extensive repairs the car needed. It also, in my view, was a waste of money to keep trying to repair a sixteen-year-old vehicle, since the repairs would cost much more than the car was worth. N's husband agreed to get the keys from me and take the car back to his home to repair it, and they again showed up demanding the keys. I gave them to N's husband. The car, however, remained in my apartment building's parking lot, contrary to N and her husband's agreement to repair it. Instead, one night N's husband showed up at my place demanding I give him my father's safety deposit box keys immediately... if I gave them to him he would take the car away to get fixed. He threatened me, saying if I didn't give them to him right then I would have to pay to have the box drilled out so they could get the contents. I didn't know which of the many keys my father had were the correct ones, and was in no position to be able to find them. I told him I didn't have transportation to go to my old hometown where the box was to open it myself.
Right after that I got an email from N saying my father had taken the annuity back and was having it deposited into his bank account, and also that he had canceled the credit card he had given me after my mom's death -- the card I only used to get my own birthday and Christmas presents. It was my birthday when I got that email. Since I was already behind financially, due to increased costs of transportation to and from work, this action was totally inexplicable to me. I hadn't done anything to deserve it. N was telling my father that I was lying to him about not being able to get off work on short notice to take my father on his errands, and that her daughter was able to get off any time she wanted (she works in the same place). This was not only untrue, but blatantly so. Now I was in an apartment I couldn't afford on my own, due to my father's actions, but also if he wanted anything bought for him it would have to come out of my own paycheques. He started threatening at that point to give his power of attorney to N, despite my telling him of how dire my own situation was and that I couldn't get to see him without a vehicle, let alone get to work since the buses didn't run when my shift finished.
I went in to see him a few times but could only afford to take cabs very occasionally. Meanwhile, the car remained in the parking lot for two months. N and her husband didn't visit him on Christmas, or offer to take him to their home to partake in their holiday meal. They kept telling him they would repair his car but were using it as leverage to bully me into giving them his financial papers and other things. When they finally did come to get it, they kept my belongings such as the cushions I'd used to be able to see over the wheel, ice scrapers, etc. All of these things they kept in their shed until sometime in the spring, despite many requests from me that they return them.
Finally my father agreed that I could have the annuity, after more than six weeks without transportation, and since N's husband was obviously not going to bother fixing the car, he also agreed to buy a vehicle for me but specified it had to be a van (so he could be loaded into it to go places). I found a van, but my father did not want to pay for the modifications it needed in order for his wheelchair to be used instead of a regular seat, so it remained unmodified. My father knew I could not lift him into it myself, and the nursing home staff would not do so either.
Throughout that winter and well into the spring I received several threatening visits and emails from N and her husband, repeatedly demanding my father's things. I was dealing with work difficulties, several bouts of illness, and increased back pain from my workplace refusing to make accommodations for my disability. As a result, on my days off I was spending them in bed. By this point I was so fed up with my father's continued childish behaviour and N's continued demands that I just wanted to be left alone. I told my father about all the issues that were going on, and couldn't understand why he refused to comprehend it.
Then I got another email saying the annuity was again going back to my father. When I went to see him, he accused me of spending all of the money in his bank account (which it would never have occurred to me to do), and he told me he needed the annuity money to buy himself a nice wheelchair since I'd apparently spent all his money. I had never touched his bank account. He also, at that time, gave his financial POA to N, well before taking back the annuity. I could not figure out why he didn't bother to check for himself that he still had his money, or at least have his financial advisor do it. N used her new access as financial POA to "check his accounts", and lied to my father outright about my spending his money. Why would he believe someone he barely knew over his own daughter?
That wasn't the only thing she did. She also sent her own lawyer, as well as another one, to visit my father in an effort to persuade him to change his existing will. I did not know this at the time.
After N got the power of attorney, the threatening emails and visits stopped. I had to go beg for the annuity money every month in order to pay my bills and purchase new badly-needed eyeglasses. I still had my father's medical power of attorney.
(more in next post)