Family news

I don’t often speak of my family, now that my dad has died. However, you may remember that when I had my heart attack, I mentioned that my brother and sister-in-law have split up. I got a call from my brother this afternoon and it’s as I have been fearing for a while: she’s been embezzling money.

My sister-in-law had power of attorney for my dad when he went into the nursing home. She paid his bills, made sure that the house was repaired (and then sold it when it was clear he wouldn’t be able to move back) and generally took care of things. However, she told me long before he died that he had made a will and divided everything three ways: my brother, my sister, and myself would each receive 1/3rd of the estate.

After he died, I heard nothing from her. There was no accounting, no cheque to settle the estate, no communication. My brother had told me just before Dad died that there was enough money to keep him in the nursing home for 7 months. That would have been about US$56,000. Even after the funeral expenses there would have been something left. I was suspicious. To be honest, I had been suspicious for a long time, since the manner in which she lived and spent money seemed to be above the financial resources of my brother. However, one doesn’t say things like that to your brother, really. So, the last time I spoke to my brother, I said that I wondered where all the money left over from my father’s estate was, and asked him whether there was any accounting and statement that he knew of. He promised to check for me.

Today my brother called me and told me that he’s found evidence that she has been embezzling funds from my father and from him to the tune of probably close to if not more than US$100,000. She seems to be having a really good time for herself, perhaps too good (he says that she’s drinking to excess and she’s traveling to Florida quite a bit). She’s moved in with her new boyfriend as well. Harold said that she has been forging his name to cheques, has been making cheques out to cash but not accounting for them, and has withdrawn nearly all the money that they had realised on the sale of my dad’s house on Elm Street.

Harold is pretty broken up about all this, and while we’ve never been close, he’s my brother at the end of the day. So I told him that he doesn’t have to give me any money that’s due from the estate until and unless he has the means to pay it. He’s got lots of friends over there who are taking care of him and helping him out. So I hope he’s OK. I may pop over there in June just to give him moral support and make sure that everything’s OK, and perhaps talk to the lawyer who handled the probate for my dad’s estate. (The lawyer is as honest as the day is long and he is also shocked and upset at this, so he wasn’t conniving at it.)

Oh, well, another day in the life of the Hansen family. For a century all Hansens died intestate. So we get one who made a will, and the money gets embezzled. What a pain.

UPDATE: In response to questions: yes, Harold is doing the detective work and is going to try to get as much of the money back as he can; and no, there are no children. He may try to use the threat of criminal prosecution as a lever in the divorce proceedings.

7 Responses to “Family news”

  1. spwebdesign says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. Any chance your family will be able to recover the money from her?

  2. fj says:

    Do they have kids? Cause else it is timefor a criminal prosecution.

  3. chrishansenhome says:

    Yes: see update at the end of the post.

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    No: see update at the end of the post.

  5. vasilatos says:

    My stepfather does volunteer work of straightening out and helping with finances for folks who are old/disabled; he goes to their house and does the checkbook and makes a budget, etc. They’re not well off.

    He’s discovered out of the five he’s done so far that FOUR of their children are stealing from them. I guess that until someone else looks, it just seems all so easy. He (and all of us) find this very distressing.

    Sorry to hear your father was among this unfortunate group.

  6. rsc says:

    I hate to provide yet another downer, but based on what you’ve said here I wouldn’t expect it to be possible to recover a whole lot, if any, of the money; I would guess that she’s spent it all, and then some.

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.

  7. chrishansenhome says:

    You’re probably right; I gather that any cheques that she’s forged will be made good by the bank, but other money she might have stolen is pretty much gone forever.

    It’s only money. Little oblong pieces of green paper. No intrinsic value whatsoever. I just hope my brother comes out of this in one piece.