Dear Annie: In need of impartial assessment

Annie Lane, syndicated columnist

Dear Annie: My oldest sister has five grown children. Four live out of town, and one lives with his mother. My sister has never been able to stand up for herself very well. The out-of-town children have been trying to get her money. They have even somehow made the court send her a letter to appear for a 30-minute evaluation to see if she has dementia. My sister is fully functional and takes care of paying her bills, cleaning her home, cooking, etc.

She’s not crazy or dysfunctional; she’s just who she is. The out-of-town children have put together a letter of character assassination against her other son and the rest of the family (myself included). I have never seen such a blatant bunch of lies and have never heard of a story worse than this when it comes to children trying to get a parents’ money before they pass. Although, I did have a sister (we no longer have a relationship) who tried to get money from my mother as her inheritance before she died. The oldest child of my sister is the ringleader. He even went so far to say in the court letter that any and all expenses would be paid by his mother’s investments.

I don’t have any lawyer friends to ask questions to. What say you, Annie? — Bewildered in VT

Dear Bewildered: It sounds as though there are a lot of issues here that may look one way or the other depending on one’s perspective. Meanwhile, caught in the middle is a real person — your sister. Perhaps it’s best for her to loop in an objective assessment by meeting with a medical professional on her own. Given that this is now heading to court review and legal intervention, there will be various sides of the story being submitted, and retaining a lawyer to deliver your side may be prudent.

Accusations tend to go hand in hand with escalation, but sensible alternatives remain for those that are less interested in “winning” and more interested in ensuring your sister is safe and secure.

Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to