My Father Stole My Retirement Savings

When I went on disability for bipolar disorder in 2008, my father asked me to put my retirement savings in a family trust. He said he would invest it for me so that I would never have anything to worry about. I gave him all of my retirement savings. I was hesitant to do so, but he kept asking for two years and made me feel that I was passing up a great opportunity because I wanted to stubbornly control my own finances. I finally gave him the money in 2010--hoping for the best.

Well, he retired last year and announced that he had not invested my money and had, in fact, spent it. He had lied about it the whole time and kept telling me the investments were doing great and my retirement savings had grown exponentially and I would never have to worry about anything.

I went to a lawyer who told me that this is a very serious crime--breach of fiduciary duty--and that there is no statute of limitations on this crime. He asked me if I wanted my parents to go to prison. I said, "No, I just want my money back."

Now, my father is slowly dying from bladder cancer. The lawyer said that the next step is to contact the Commonwealth's Attorney. I can't believe that my father lied and did this to me while I was disabled, and the fact that he is dying complicates things.

I got off of disability and have been working full-time for two years, and have been contributing to my 401K, but after getting off of disability, I had to start my career over from entry-level. I have been promoted and am now able to contribute 15% of my salary to retirement savings, but this was a huge setback. I am now 48, so I will probably be working for 20 to 30 more years. I have asked my parents for the money, but so far, they have not made any plans to pay me back.

When people go on disability, they often have access to a lot of money--any back pay that they receive, and any retirement savings that they have. This can make them a target for unethical people--including family members--at a time when they are extremely vulnerable. It is hard for people to stand up for themselves when they are suffering from conditions so disabling that they are not able to work.

I've decided not to got to the Commonwealth's Attorney. My father is dying and my mother is worried about the future. I would feel terrible about myself if I put them through the wringer right now. My mother said that my sister and I will each inherit half of my family's estate when she passes away. I can live with that. I own my condo and my car, I have very little debt, and I have plenty of time to save for my retirement. I think I will be okay.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. That was brave.

    1. These kinds of things happen too often.