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Deadbeat brother lives off elderly mom

Sat., Aug. 18, 2012

Dear Annie: What do you do with a sibling who has been enabled all of his life when Mom is no longer around to provide for him?

My brother has had a house to live in, a car to drive, insurance, etc., for the past 25 years. He is an alcoholic and a drug user. He doesn’t work because he doesn’t want to. He has an all-expenses-paid life.

When my mother dies, how do we settle the estate? If the house is given to my brother, he would lose it because he has no concept of paying bills. My sister thinks we should sell the place, give my brother his share and move on.

My mother is 82 years old and in poor health. She will be leaving us a huge mess when she passes, but she refuses to discuss it now. – Help Me Plan

Dear Help: Your mother doesn’t want to deal with this, so she’s hiding her head in the sand. And it’s difficult to make plans in advance, if you don’t know whether your mother has a will that leaves the house to your brother, in which case, he is free to let it collapse into ruin.

You should consider all the possibilities, including how much responsibility you will take for your brother when the gravy train stops. Unless he gets help for his addictions, his behavior is unlikely to change. Are you comfortable throwing him out of the house? You can’t force your mother to settle these questions, although please urge her to see a lawyer. Your best bet right now is to contact Al-Anon ( in order to deal with your brother.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.


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