How Do I Get My Unemployed Brother Out of Our Father’s House?

My brother, in his 50s, was a successful professional for many years. He was laid off from his job four years ago and has been unable to find regular employment since then. He has now depleted his savings. He says it’s challenging to find work in his field as an older person, so I suggested taking a lower-paying job — in any field — to support himself, but he doesn’t appear to be looking for work. And ever since we moved our father to an assisted living facility, my brother has been living in his house. Keeping the house is an unnecessary financial burden on our father, and my brother has agreed that we should sell it. But every time we set a timetable for doing so, he asks for a delay. I’m worried about what will happen if he never finds another place to live. Should I say something to him?


I certainly understand your anxiety about your aging father and your brother’s financial dependence on him. And I agree that four years is a long stretch to be unemployed. But you haven’t said anything about your father’s finances, or his ability to manage them. Keeping the house may be unnecessary, in your view, but that doesn’t settle the question. Under most circumstances, deciding when to sell the house would be your father’s call — not yours, or your brother’s.

Now, if your father is cognitively fit, but you believe the current setup is financially unsustainable, or that your brother may look to you for support after he depletes your father’s accounts, speak to both of them: “I am worried that keeping the house indefinitely and maintaining both of you from Dad’s investments is untenable. What are your plans for housing and support in the future?” Perfectly reasonable!

If your father is no longer up to the task of financial planning, speak to your brother on his own. Without more information about your father’s assets or his arrangements with your brother (not to mention actual information about his search for a job), it’s hard to know whether there is cause for concern here. I doubt that either of them would want you to worry, though. So, if you are concerned, broach the issue respectfully.

Credit…Miguel Porlan

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