The Financial Valet, Incorporated

Handling your personal finances easily

   Discussion:  HOW TO AVOID SIBLING CONFLICT OVER AN AGING PARENT

 

Often TFV, Inc., is hired to help families whose relationships are strained because of perceived encroachment on an elderly parent’s finances.  Good intentions may abound, but the reality of a pending inheritance can cause even the most benign action to be seen as a threat.   These issues are compounded when dementia or diminished mental capacity is present and a parent begins giving away beloved family objects or money.


One way to reduce such tensions is to hire an independent individual to work in the best interest of the parent.  This person’s primary goal should be to do what is best for the client.  For example, we work with the client’s own accountants, attorneys, and investment advisers.  Our goal is to maintain an ‘open book’ policy so all family members can see the asset and income stream at any time.  This in and of itself is usually enough to inhibit any inappropriate siphoning of funds and items by others -- if nothing else, the value received could be offset in the estate.


We also often suggest that before the parent becomes too incapacitated, the family might want to come together and select which household items they would eventually like to be given.  A simple drawing of numbers begins the process.  Put one number on a piece of paper for each member participating -- thus 1,2,3,4.  When everyone has their number roll a dice to see who begins and then start process, reversing the order of who chooses during the next round: 1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1, 1-2-3-4, etc.  Even though it may sound like an uncomfortable event, clients who have participated had a wonderful time.  “Mom” often is surprised by what her children choose – often not what she thought.  She in turn can share the provenance of the piece and enjoy the appreciation of her children when they thank her and share where they might use the item.  The end result is Mom still has her belongings around her but the tension surrounding the material objects is mitigated.  If value is an issue, first bring in an expert to appraise all the belongings and use those valuations to offset the estate final cash distributions.


In the long-run it is often less expensive to have a skilled professional to help navigate issues such as these, not to mention less stressful.