The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 60s. I need advice about my older brother, who lives in our family home.
The home is a rental property, but the landlord doesn’t take rent. Instead I pay deposits to the regional legal affairs bureau so he can keep living in the residence.
My brother receives a monthly pension of ¥25,000, which he wastes on pachinko and beer. Afterward, he complains to me that he doesn’t have rice, so I bring him some. I’ve brought him bento lunch boxes before, but he rudely told me to leave immediately, so I stopped bringing them over.
He’s also accrued ¥5 million in debt and tells me to pay it for him. I plan to apply for an inheritance waiver from my brother when he dies, because I don’t want to inherit his debt. It seems like that’s possible if I complete the proper procedures at a courthouse within three months of a person’s death.
My husband has already died and I somehow manage to make ends meet, so I’m tired of the trouble my brother causes.
I don’t think it’s right for him to seek support like this, as I’m not his parent.
A, Shizuoka Prefecture
Dear Ms. A:
You’ve been unable to desert your brother, supporting him for a long time, despite your anger and disgust with his delinquent lifestyle.
It’s quite difficult to sever relations with someone who’s become this dependent on you. Moreover, you can’t expect your brother to radically change his ways this late in life.
First, you need to clearly distinguish between what you can and can’t do, and convey your intention to him. You absolutely should not help him with his financial problems or take on his debt. If your brother dies, you should go to the courthouse within three months and apply for an inheritance waiver, as you noted.
I don’t think it’s necessary to pay rent or even deposits for him. If you stop paying the deposits, he’ll be forced to take his problems more seriously, because he’ll understand that otherwise he’ll no longer be able to continue living in his current home.
You should only help him with food and only when you can afford to. And your support should be limited to a few items such as rice, miso and tea. If you send all of that together, you can get by without having to meet him.
He seems to be in good enough condition to play pachinko. You should greatly reduce the amount of assistance you offer. It’s a little late for your brother, but you should gradually encourage him to become independent. This also requires a strong will on your part.
Yoko Sanuki, lawyer