Thank you for replying. I was too quick in assessing your answer. My sister is in town for just a few more days so we have to take any action promptly.
Response 1: I appreciate the opportunity to clarify the issue.
Regarding your responses, talking to my brother about not accessing our Mother's account is dubious at best. Earlier this year he twice spent all his paycheck on gambling and assorted purchases and then relied upon our Mother for two checks of $5,000 to prevent his checks from bouncing. My sister had an agreement with our Mother to call her before she wrote any checks to my brother, but that control did not work. When we ask her why she wrote the checks, she just responds that she doesn’t know.
Response 2: I did not suggest that your brother be talked to. It was early in the morning when I was writing, but this is what I wrote:
(We have most of her monthly expenses taken out of her checking account automatically. Our sister has on-line acccess to her bank accounts and could transfer funds as needed and pay large expenses; e.g., life insurance, property tax. The bank coud issue a check or debit card so our Mother has access to cash. Is that not workable? Do you have a better plan? Thank you.)
Response 4: It would be workable if your brother would not talk your mother into withdrawing funds for his benefits. After all, this is the primary purpose for the attempt to restrict your mother's access to her account.
Just the last couple weeks, he talked her into "loaning" her $6,000 to buy a new truck (which he bought "as is" and already has mechanical problems) and $5,000 to pay off his second loan on his 401 K so he could take out another loan on the 401K to pay her back (apparently you cannot take out more than two loans). However, he found out that the $5,000 was not sufficient to pay off the second loan, and subsequently gambled and spent $2,800 of that amount in a couple weeks.
My sister found out and helped to sell his old truck. He was going to sell it for $650 and my sister got $1,950 for the vehicle. She also was able to force my brother to turn over the remaining $2,200 to return to our Mother's account. We decided and he agreed to reduce his share of her life insurance because there is no way he can pay her back. Our agent recommends that we disinherit him altogether.
The situation has become quite stressful for my sister and me. Neither of us lives in South Dakota; my sister is there for a pleasant visit that turned out to be anything but. She is returning to Denver on Saturday.
Our mother would almost certainly agree to any plan we recommend. My sister is contemplating taking our Mother's checkbook with her when she returns to Denver (with our Mother’s consent), and giving my mother a Prepaid Visa Card each month approximately equal to her social security check and my late father's pension less her automatic withdrawals. With my late father's pension and her social security, that she be plenty for her to live on.
A weakness in that plan is that my brother could still drive my Mother to the bank and have her withdraw money. He has done that before. Could we set up two accounts: one that our mother cannot access and that my sister can access online to transfer funds to a second account my mother would have access to? The first account would have the majority of her money, and the second account would have just enough funds each month to equal her social security plus pension? My sister would pay the major expenses herself (she has signature authority) such as property tax, home insurance et al.
Or would the first account at least require joint signatures? That would be less desirable because my sister leaves is Denver, unless there is a way for her to sign from Colorado.
Appreciate your advice, judgment and innovative suggestions. Thank you.
Response 3: Your situation has no easy answer, apparently. Pre-paid account is also good idea. However, there is no way to guarantee that your brother would not interfere. Regrettably, as long as your brother is living with your mother, all you and your sister can do is to try to limit the damage by doing one of the following:
(a) Establishing joint account with signature restrictions;
(b) Establishing a small account with spending limit;
(c) Getting a pre-paid visa card.