Amputee Bill and the Gold-Digging Grifter

Dear Robin:

My husband’s brother Bill (62) got engaged two years ago. At first we were thrilled because he seemed so happy.

Then we learned within 2 months of being engaged his fiancé Vicky accepted over $60,000 worth of jewelry but kept making excuses why they couldn’t set a date.

He is in poor health from diabetes and had to have his lower leg amputated this summer. He informed us that Vicky asked him to change his medical power of attorney from my husband to her.

My husband discovered she was trying to obtaining a marriage license in order that they be married in the hospital chapel before he was released (that didn’t happen).

She then convinced the doctor to certify that Bill was of sound mind and they immediately married upon his release from the hospital and bought a huge house.

We are very concerned that he is being taken advantage of and wonder if there is any action we can take to protect my husband’s brother, who may be a victim of neglect but does not have a clue that he is.

We feel he is happy, even if it is an illusion, but just want him to have good care. This woman has a history of doing this to other people in her family. We need advice on if there is anything we can do to prevent the train wreck from happening.

Laura

Dear Laura:

I had so many questions for you but you aren’t responding to my emails, so please consider this advice somewhat truncated and delivered in a vacuum due to your disappearance.

Questions for Laura, Who is Either Ignoring Me or Trapped Under Something Heavy:

  • Do you visit Bill on a regular basis?
  • If so, what is his mental state? Is he coherent?
  • What is his physical state?
  • What about his surroundings – are things clean and orderly and is he being fed a healthy diet?
  • Does he have children? Are they concerned as well?
  • Is gold-digging Vicky around when you visit, or is she MIA and off at a fancy hotel bar identifying her next target?

I don’t even know if Bill is incapacitated as your letter suggests. If his physical and mental health are generally good and he is a happy and active uni-ped, you don’t have a leg to stand on if your goal is to initiate some sort of legal proceeding to “protect” him.

Let’s assume two vastly different scenarios since you couldn’t be bothered to get back to me. Please be aware you are on my shit list because you made me do twice as much work today as I would have had to do with more information.

Scenario One, in Which Bill is Being Abused by the Grifter:

  1. Elder Abuse: 

    Bill is neglected, abused, and being financially taken advantage of.  Poor Bill.  

    Circumstances such as these allow you to seek help by filing a claim of elder abuse in court. Here in Oregon, you can file a petition for a restraining order to prevent the abuse of an elderly or disabled person.

    While the age defining “elderly” is 65 in Oregon, 62-year-old Bill could qualify as a “person with a disability” in Oregon: a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

    For me, absence of coffee in the morning creates a “substantial limitation on major life activities,” so I’d guess Bill’s status as a peg-leg probably qualifies him as disabled. I’m not positive and this question has me a bit stumped, so get some advice from a lawyer soon.  It sounds like Bill has one foot in the grave already..

    Unfortunately, I don’t know what state you live in BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T GET BACK TO ME, so utilize your magic Google machine and see what it says about elder/disabled abuse in your area.

  2. Conservatorship, etc:

    Another option is hiring an attorney to explore whether conservatorship, power of attorney, or other types of legal protection are appropriate in Bill’s case. If you go this route be sure to ask around for referrals and find a lawyer who has a good reputation.  This area of the law is complicated and emotional, so you need an expert.

Scenario Two: Bill is Fine and You Need to Settle Down

My job is to examine all the possibilities, and although the facts as you present them don’t really pass the smell test you should consider that Bill is happy as a pig in shit and you have no right to force him out of the pigpen.

Like you, I think it’s interesting that Vicky put off the wedding until Bill got sick, but maybe his illness reminded her how much she loved and wanted to marry him.

It’s possible.

Anything is possible.

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You said she has a history of “doing things like this to other people in her family.” That sentence confused me: do you mean she regularly marries sick family members? That’s gross.

Perhaps you meant she takes advantage of people to get money from them. How would I know, BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T EMAIL ME BACK?

What’s Your Stake in the Game?

Another question I wanted to ask was this:

Do you and your husband have a financial interest here?

I’m terribly sorry to bring this up but it isn’t uncommon for people to question relationships that may impact their own possibility for inheritance.

I’ve received several letters on this topic and I’ve known plenty of people who have lofty expectations for their inheritances or those they think should go to their children.  

I once heard a woman refer to her ex-husband’s money as her children’s “birthright,” which made me laugh out loud in wonder because that sort of entitlement complex is utterly and completely beyond my understanding.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: absent financial abuse or fraud it’s nobody’s damn business where someone else’s money goes.  None of us should ever expect to inherit a dime so if that’s your issue you need to get your hand out of Bill’s pocket and let him be happy.

You wrote:

We are very concerned that he is being taken advantage of and wonder if there is any action we can take to protect my husbands brother, who may be a victim of neglect but does not have a clue that he is. We feel he is happy, even if it is an illusion, but just want him to have good care.

It is up to you and your husband to determine objectively as best you can whether or not Bill is a victim of neglect or abuse. If he is not, who are you to question whether or not his happiness is an “illusion?”

Look around you.

We have war, famine, mass shootings (thanks, Obama!), global warming, cancer, orphans, greedy divorce lawyers, Scientology, and Donald Trump. This is one messed up world.

All happiness is an illusion – a self-created construct that allows most of us to go from point A to point Z without throwing ourselves off a bridge. I’m not being cynical and in fact this is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned over the past few years.  I no longer look to other people or things to make me happy.  I now create a paradigm/illusion in which I make myself happy.

This doesn’t always work.

Like power in a windstorm my happiness flickers and fails on occasion, but the ability to create a peaceful and satisfying existence always comes back when the storm passes.

Perhaps Bill is creating his own version of happiness.  If
there is no evidence of abuse you need to calm down and take a (half) step back.  Let him live his life on his own terms. If you see Bill struggling, be a friend upon whom he can lean.

And with that, I’ll show myself out.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Michael Cox

    OMG I love you! That’s it. That’s all.

Comments are closed.