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Lizzie* shared with SRV the sad story of how her relationship with her daughter turned sour, resulting in heartache and financial loss.
Lizzie lives with Bipolar Disorder and an acquired brain injury. Her adult daughter, Jane* had a history of drug abuse and mental health challenges, which Lizzie had attempted to support her through for many years. Lizzie’s support included loaning money for Jane to go to rehab, other financial support, caring for Jane’s daughter and offering Jane a home and use of Lizzie’s car.
In 2019 Lizzie was experiencing some health challenges and invited Jane to move in with her rent free to provide some care and support. Lizzie and Jane had a verbal agreement about roles and responsibilities.
It wasn’t long before Jane became controlling and coercive over Lizzie. After a stint in hospital Lizzie was placed in residential care, so that her home could have some modifications before she went back. It was at this time that Jane started to take control of Lizzie’s house and car. Jane told people Lizzie was not returning home, despite Lizzie’s plans. Once Jane understood that Lizzie planned to return home, Jane stopped communication with her mother and changed her phone number.
Lizzie had hoped Jane would be her carer but instead Jane refused Lizzie entry to her own home and the police had to be involved. Jane listed Lizzie’s house, on realestate.com and the police had the listing removed. Jane also sold Lizzie’s furniture and refused to give Lizzie her car back.
Lizzie experienced shame and feelings of being a failure as a parent. She withdrew from other people and was not coping. The distress caused Lizzie mental health challenges, including increased anxiety, depression, and the exacerbation of her bipolar disorder.
Lizzie had a notice to vacate letter sent to Jane in 2021 and in 2022 a Family Violence Intervention order.
On top of the emotional stress and heartbreak at her daughter’s selfish and cruel actions, Lizzie calculates her financial losses to be over $35,000. Unfortunately, because no formal agreements were in place there is not much Lizzie can do to hold Jane accountable for the financial loss.
Although we all want to trust our loved ones, we can’t possibly know what the future holds. When people experience issues with substance abuse, mental health challenges or other major disruptions to their lives it can mean that they behave in ways that cause family relationships to breakdown. By creating Family Agreements you can clearly outline expectations and ensure everyone agrees. If you need someone to support you with finances it can be wise to make a formal appointment such as a Power of Attorney. This means that their power is outlined and if they act in a way that is not in accordance with the appointment, then legal action can be taken.
Although it can feel untrusting to create formal agreements with family, it protects everyone involved. To find out more about how you can plan ahead to protect your rights check out our video series.