Jon and Terrie Hull stepped into the basement to talk to Joe about the how a car accident changed their mom’s life and their lives. It’s frightening that you think you’re doing everything right….until suddenly things get complicated.
Joe: Welcome, guys!
Terrie: Hi there.
Jon: Thanks for having us.
Joe: Your family is close-knit. However, things changed dramatically after your mom got into a car wreck. She was already changing as she was aging, like a lot of people. How was your mom changing before the accident?
Terrie: She was still wonderful. She was still happy. She was out doing things, and she exercised, going to the gym three days a week. She always went to Starbucks five times a week. She had a lot of friends and was very active in the church. She drove. She was doing well.
Joe: Do you think the depression that seemed to be coming on was due to the passing of your dad?
Terrie: My dad’s death caused a lot of depression for a few years. We worked together on that. She saw someone about it and slowly but surely started to come out of it.
Joe: You were initially happy when she got….let’s call him a boyfriend.
Terrie: About three years after dad died, she started seeing someone else. We did not find out for about another year. She kept him from us, which was interesting. We never knew a lot about him; she told us he was an excellent guy. We only met him a couple times. She was secretive, and we were concerned about that, but I wanted her to be happy.
Joe: After the wreck, you weren’t sure if Terrie’s mom would pull through. You called her boyfriend, and he decided he was NOT going to come see her?
Jon: He was down in southern Oregon driving a school bus, and he made it clear that the accident was bad, but he wouldn’t be back until that Monday. It was like “Wow, that does not make sense.” He did not seem too inclined to get to the hospital fast.
Joe: Terrie, what was the difference in her faculties after the car accident?
Terrie: She had little to no short-term memory. She was obsessive. She would obsess over her calendar. There would only be one thing on it, she would look at it, put it away, and two minutes later be looking at it again.
She couldn’t draw a clock. That is one thing that experts use to determine a person’s mental state and faculties. She would work for multiple hours trying to draw a clock and get frustrated. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t visualize it anymore. She had problems putting different size plates in the proper spots. She couldn’t read her measuring spoons anymore. She couldn’t read directions anymore. It was like I was teaching her the same things all over again every day.
Joe: It seems as if through the recovery process that she became angry, particularly at the two of you.
Jon: She was frustrated. As we have learned, most people with traumatic brain injuries don’t think they are as bad as they are. They can’t see clearly. She would get angry doing simple things, or if we helped around the house. As time passed, and she got better after the surgeries, she became frustrated, not just with us, but with everything,
Joe: Was the first red flag for you when you met with your mom and the financial advisor and she couldn’t explain one check? There seemed to be a lot of explainable activity in her account.
Terrie: Unannounced to us, she had gone to her financial advisor with one of her full-time caregivers. She was still living at home at this point. My mom and I went to her financial advisor and she (mom) was focused on this one dollar amount. She couldn’t explain where that money had been spent. It was to pay some taxes. We went round and round. The financial advisor and I both tried explaining it to her in numerous ways and times. She could not understand it and was becoming more and more agitated about it, She was getting frustrated with both of us, thinking we were both in the wrong.
Joe: Jon, do you think that this was the only opening the boyfriend needed to all of a sudden get involved?
Jon: I don’t think it was the only opening, but it was a clear indicator that someone else was in her ear guiding her. We just tried to work through it. The first couple months we were worried about her dying. If she’d had the surgery ten years before that she probably would have died. The medical advances made relating to subdural hematomas have advanced so far. When this money thing came up, we knew there was a definite issue. It was hard to tell what it was.
We had talked to lawyers before and had expressed concerns about Billy (boyfriend). They said that usually in these cases when the boyfriend realizes that his girlfriend isn’t going to be the same anymore he’ll disappear from the picture.
Joe: He didn’t. I was surprised when reading that the financial planner was fired, the police were at the house saying that you (Jon and Terrie) can’t talk to mom anymore, and he now is marrying her. It read like it was upside down within 24 – 48 hours.
Jon: In a span of a week he had called the police claiming that Terrie was stealing from them, put a restraining order on her, and then flew her down to Vegas with a caregiver, got married to her (mom) and flew back. When your hands are tied by the law, you can’t do anything about it. He had plenty of time to perpetrate his crime.
Joe: With all the lawyers you talked to, giving you correct advice, it seems that you were doing everything right. In hindsight what would you have done differently?
Jon: We should have gone to adult protective services first when we thought something was weird. That is the takeaway when greed pops up: we need to protect our folks. We needed to go somewhere to get that protection or at least start a dialog with legal officials that something is wrong.
Explore deeper into what Jon and Terrie Hull experienced and the lessons they learned about estate and elder law plans to help ensure this wouldn’t happen to them again in their full interview on the Stacking Benjamins podcast. Get Jon and Terrie’s book A Legacy Undone in the Stacking Benjamins store.