Mum has shopping addiction, has taken out lifetime mortgage on her home
Perhaps the title is an overly simplistic one for what is actually a rather complex situation; but I'll try and make this as succinct as possible...
My mum always has had issues around her spending, to the point my dad (bless him) was working two jobs. Back when we were teens, it was Franklin Mint; jewellery, books, ornaments. More latterly, its been shopping channels (particularly QVC). She honestly has a room full of boxes of items she's ordered.
In mid 2019, Dad died. Mum was still trying to process it all, when we ended up in lockdown during 2020. It was certain hard for her, and we did what we could. There was a point during that year that she actually seemed to realise she had a spending problem, and was even pleased with herself that she had managed to stop watching her beloved shopping channels. As the country opened back up again, she began focusing on her home and what could be done to improve it. My brother helped her arrange equity release in order to finance the work. It kept her attention, so I was okay with it. My brother also arranged for people to start the work that required doing. This was before the loan had actually completed, which did seem daft but as Mum was so eager to get things going I went with the flow. I was asked by my brother if I pay over £5k for the fitting of new windows at Mum's, and having been assured I wouldn't lose out in the interim, I did so. He also arranged for a friend of his to begin work in the garden, and paid for this out of his own pocket.
In hindsight I should have spoke up more at the time, considering the fact that if anything can go wrong, it will. And it did. After we'd already paid for work to be completed, and before the money for the loan had come through, Mum had a breakdown. During a phone call from her lender to tidy up some details, she told them that she no longer required the loan as she'd had a windfall (she hadn't). More or less within weeks the process fell apart; Mum tried to spend over £20k she didn't actually have on QVC orders (thankfully, a lot of them bounced), her utility bills weren't being paid and she had no money for food. My brother and I were also left out of pocket.
Mum ended under the gaze of the MH team and social services for quite some time. I managed to get her debit card off her under the pretense that I needed it to set up her online banking (I've managed to deflect her enough to keep hold of it until now), and as I was able to manage her spending that way social services backed off her case, as they were at one point actively considering applying to the courts for control of her finances. I was able (funnily enough, with Mum's help by this point), to make arrangements with the various utilities to pay off her arrears, cleared off debt collectors, and for the first time she was saving money. It was going so well, that I believe (and still do), that we could have ultimately paid for the rest of the home improvements and refunds for the work already done with money mum had saved, given time. I was okay with waiting, and had hoped that Mum would be able to see how much she could achieve with proper money management. I certainly never discussed another loan with her, and although her 'health' had vastly improved compared to how she was in late 2020, she was still regularly asking me to order items from shopping channels. I didn't, and convinced her that either they had run out of stock or couriers were losing the parcels. Her health had improved, but the shopping addiction had returned. I could see the danger if Mum again tried to take out a loan; she never had an official diagnosis, so what would happen if she fell ill again?
So I was horrified when last year, she announced she had begun the process of taking out another loan. I contacted my brother (who had shown little interest in Mum's everyday affairs since I took control) for support, hoping that he would realise that Mum taking out a loan considering her history was dangerous and would agree to help persuade Mum not to do it. He didn't, and despite knowing at least of her health issues couldn't see the problem with it. The conversation from thereon in degenerated. Me on one side seeing the dangers of Mum potentially having free access to a large sum of money, him not. I tried speaking to the lender myself, to try and get them at least to pay more attention to her past credit history and not just her most recent healthy balance sheet, and warned them she had had health issues. They were quite communicative, up to the point that they found out that the only authority I had was Mum's good will and not an LPA. They started ignoring me from then on. The MH team while initially supportive backed away, seemingly suggesting that they could do nothing as spending addiction wasn't a mental health problem. Mum had been telling social services to go away for long enough, that they more or less have.
Fast forward to today. I couldn't stop the loan, and she now has about £40k in the bank between that and what I'd helped her to save. She thinks the authorities are no longer watching her, and is actively asking for her card back, all while telling me regularly that she's missing out on so much; whether that be cosmetics bundles or those gems that are so rare as they've almost been 'mined out'. My brother has again organised for work to be done on Mum's house, through a contractor friend of his. I've asked for him to hold off, while I go through the process of getting quotes. I also asked for some kind of written record of the money already spent, plus proper quotes from his friend for Mum's records so we have traceability of her spend in case she fell ill again. The result of this was a torrent of abuse and threats.
I'm now feeling lost. Mum can be very plausible, and there's nothing stopping her ringing up the bank and getting her card back that way. My brother is happy to take her money with no traceability and doesn't seem to care what the consequences may be if the authorities got involved in her case again. While the rest of the family agree with my view of things and my approach to handling Mum's business over the last couple of years, none of them will get involved in this. I need help, and have none.
Any suggestions as to what I can do would be much appreciated.
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