It's Not Their Inheritance...Yet!Suzanne Wolfson, MBA, CFP
It may be difficult...but you have to be ready to defend your financial rights.
Posted June 30, 2009
Conflicting issues, expectation of children in regards to their parents' money, and potential future inheritance sadly can have negative influences on both relationships and quality of life for many seniors. All too often the children's sense of entitlement to a bequest as well as the desired possible benefits to their lives causes inappropriate behavior, compromise, and sometimes neglect of the senior's needs as they change in the aging process.
I do understand that children too suffer their own multiple forms of loss as their parents age. The time and responsibility can be great. Also, life for some has not remunerated them as they might have hoped, or they have developed expectations of change that a significant inheritance might allow. Unfortunately at times their financial self-interest can be a primary directive of influencing major decisions, sometimes with devastating and compromising effects down the line for their aging parents.
Over my many years as a Financial Planner, especially specializing in Retirement including the Elder Care issues, I have also seen unreasonable scrimping by the parents themselves due to their desire to retain a maximum legacy as a way to ensure children's involvement or provide a final quantifiable statement of their love as a purposeful action. The elders might deny themselves beyond the point of reasonable safety, choice and quality of life merely to save more or retain what they have.
Yes, both sides may portray a broad range of behaviors regarding the financial resources and major decisions which can be costly. The important thing is that present and future needs (i.e.: expensive elder care assistance) should be looked at through realistic, sensitive, caring eyes wherein there is an understanding of whose money it truly is and for what purpose it should serve.
Difficult as it may be at times, seniors may have to defend their rights, shield themselves or ask for help in the protection of their objectives and needs. Having the outside advice of objective experts representing them (Attorney, Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, public agencies representing the Aged, etc.) can be very beneficial, and well worth the cost and time. Waiting or avoidance doesn't always make things better. Please consider an experienced, knowledgeable perspective which can sometimes hugely make a difference in your quality of life and health.
I have had to sadly yet sometimes strongly explain that the financial resources (money, home, etc) belong to the older family members, and the Law of Fiduciary Responsibility (best interest of the person whose money it is) must apply in the financial decisions and changes that may be required. "It's not yours yet!" Quality of care should supersede any of the future heir's interests. I also tell children to be appreciative and grateful that the financial resources are available to make choices, as many have no options due to financial limitations and must take on more direct responsibility.
Suzanne Wolfson CFP, is the founder of FOR RETIRED ONLY, a fee-based Financial Planning firm specializing in finding the best direction and solutions to pre-retiree's and those already retired, all the way through their remaining years. For over 32 years, Suzanne has provided customized assistant to clients in their important financial decisions, planning and investment management. Her website is ForRetiredOnly.com.
© 2009, Suzanne Wolfson. All rights reserved.