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Ask Dave

Turn The Thieving Brother In

Chris's brother-in-law is taking advantage of his father-in-law. Chris's father-in-law has Alzheimer's. Dave tells Chris he needs to turn this over to the authorities today.

QUESTION: Chris in Knoxville has a brother-in-law taking advantage of his father-in-law. He printed some bogus power of attorney paperwork and signed over the family farm to the brother-in-law. He’s also liquidated $300,000 in cash out of various bank accounts. Chris’s father-in-law has Alzheimer’s. Dave tells Chris he needs to turn this over to the authorities today.

ANSWER: You need to seek legal counsel and turn this over to the authorities today because there’s civil and criminal here. You need to file, simultaneously with him being arrested, a freeze on all of his bank accounts civilly—an injunction for him to not use any of the money that’s been misused. I think you can probably get a judge to take that money away from him before he can use it. I’m not an attorney, by the way, but just from a practical standpoint, what you do in this situation is you go in with all guns blazing. The criminal and the civil. You just shut him down on every side. You plug every hole instantaneously.

The guy’s a bank robber. He’s a thief. I will tell you from having been in these situations as a counselor, if you let your wish for how things should have been cause you to hesitate one moment for nailing this guy to the wall, then this is on you. Your wish on how it would have been and should have been is gone. You’ve got to get past the pain of this and do the right thing for her daddy.

It’s a good idea to sell your brother-in-law’s property, but that will be restitution from the criminal courts that they force him to repay what he has stolen, and they’ll force the sale of his assets to do that. I don’t know that you’re going to get to that money first. That’s probably a slower process. What you’re saying is a legal process, and you need to have a lawyer working with you guys on the other side of this to advise you. You’re going to end up coming out of pocket personally to take care of Dad, and instead of doing that, I’m going to come out of pocket for an attorney who handles the civil side of this to take care of Dad. You can be reimbursed for that even, potentially.

Go ahead and get your father-in-law’s care arranged. This is just a SWAT attack. It all happens at one time. Instantaneously, we freeze accounts, file injunctions, criminal charges are filed, he goes off in handcuffs, Daddy moves to your house, your full-time nursing care is set up to come start helping Dad. You start looking for what assets you can use to take care of Dad. Then you just cry because you’ve got a thief in the family. It just hurts, and it’s going to be tough on your wife. Do not let your or your wife’s wish for how things should have been cause you to hesitate one instant. If you hesitate one instant, it’s going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. As you said, this should’ve been dealt with earlier. Huge amounts of legal force to just freeze and plug up every hole out there instantaneously. All in one fell swoop, dude.