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Old 02-01-2015, 07:44 AM
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I recently learned more than I wanted to know about my wife's parents finances. They are going to turn 62 this year. They plan to retire. Their assets: a car with over 100,000 miles on it. That's it. Their savings: $0. They don't have a mortgage payment, which would be a good thing if they owned a house. They don't. They pay $1,000 in rent. Their monthly social security payment will be around $1,800. They are still healthy for their age, so can still work if they choose to do so. But they don't. Sooooo..... here we are. Until we discussed finances with them, they were kicking around the idea of buying a house. With what money exactly? Not sure. My wife is the oldest, and we're pretty much the most well off of the children, so I foresee them living our basement someday very soon.
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Old 02-01-2015, 08:26 AM
Location: Verde Valley AZ
8,623 posts, read 9,694,429 times
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Originally Posted by jghorton View Post
In another thread on the financial forum, a similar question was asked in the context of young children.

But, our 'children' are now in their 40's and the subject raises another issue. How much should grown 'children' know about their parents financial situation? As we age, it seems increasingly important that our grown children not only know how much we have and where it is located, but, also to have a voice in long-term 'estate' planning. This is particularly relevant to those who plan to outlive their money and leave an 'estate' that will be determined by investment decisions today.

Ours have always said, "It's your money, spend it on yourselves and don't worry about us." But, this isn't a universal response. For example, I've seen the situation turn 'ugly' when adult children get overly focused on 'their inheritance' or even make decisions regarding things like cutting corners on nursing home care for elderly parents. Also, I've heard some express almost a sense of 'entitlement' toward their parents assets, when things like unemployment, divorce or significant financial loss arise.

Then, there is the other side of the coin, when aging parents are living much closer to financial poverty than their grown children realize.
I think my mom was secretive about some things but living here I knew most of her financial info.. I know that when my dad passed away she had enough money to live these past ten years and be fairly comfortable. I guess I should be glad we never had to agonize over assisted/nursing home care for her.

When Dad passed away I told Mom to spend all that money so "nobody could fight over it". And she did! She not only spent it all...most of it on my younger brother...but died deeply in CC debt! How a person can do that, without feeling guilty, I'll never know. She didn't though and just 'put up with' all the creditors constantly calling.

Now she's gone and the drama has begun. Evidently my younger brother has inherited all that's left of Mom's 'estate' and none of the rest of us are interested at all but he's acting like we are a bunch of "greedy vultures". None of us have ever seen a copy of the Trust. She didn't have a Will. Brother has not been forthcoming with any info about any of it. I think I might be able to get a copy from the County Recorders office. He has done...and is still doing...some pretty despicable things but there's nothing I can do about it so I just keep my distance although his stupidity is costing ME a lot of money right now. I will be moving ASAP.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:35 AM
Location: Loudon, TN
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My MIL is 87 and is now living in an ALF. We took over her finances a couple years after FIL passed away. She had to learn how to pay bills since her hubby had done that stuff. She had never done anything with insurance or banking, either. Heck, we had to teach her to pump her own gas. We had to help her go through all their papers....60 years of documents! So we knew where all the finances were, and what she could and could not afford. My DH has been on their bank accounts for about the last 20 years.

Now we pay all her bills, handle all her medical insurance and prescription issues, deal with pretty much anything paperwork related. She has memory loss of undetermined origin (dementia or Alzheimers) that sort of comes and goes, so she cannot be relied upon for anything of that nature. I accompany her into the Dr's office, since she would not be able to repeat to me what he said otherwise, and it's necessary for someone to manage her care, make her appts, coordinate transport, etc. Her expenditures exceed her income from SS and pension. We recently submitted the paperwork for VA Aid and Attendance benefits, and we are hoping that will put her into a positive cashflow situation, or at least breaking even, before her little savings/investments are completely depleted. Without us doing this, I don't know how she would have managed. She only has come to understand and accept her memory loss in the last couple months. Her other son lives across the country and writes to her/us about 2 times a year, so he is no help at all. I'm sure when she passes he will arrive with his hand out for his non-existent inheritance.

As a childfree couple, all of this has put into perspective the need for developing a super trusting relationship with one of my younger family members, or to hire some sort of trustee, to help with all this when I reach my later years.
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:54 AM
Location: Tucson
446 posts, read 572,411 times
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Tricky question. My husband and I just did our wills/trust and my son has been given all or most of our information. My daughter cannot know anything. In fact we were originally going to leave her out of the will entirely since we have been supporting her and her son and we consider that to be her inheritance. We had a change of heart when we realized that if we left her out she would make my sons life a misery (more than she does already) so we put her back in at a lesser amount.

So it all depends on the situation and the children involved. Some children just cannot be told about these things no matter how old they are. They can and will use it against you.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:10 AM
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My parents kept me fully informed and had my name as a third signature on all their accounts. Everything was in one place. When their time came, it made it relatively straight forward, at least as much as possible in that time.

My FIL on the other hand has always been very secretive about their finances. He's always been paranoid about someone stealing something from him. Even when he's taken my wife aside to discuss finances (never with me included), he has only been partly forthcoming. We know that he has multiple accounts, but don't know what accounts, nor all the banks they are in. We also know that he has a good selection of stocks, but not what stocks. He has told us that in the event of his death, he has all the papers in his office (somewhere). But not all the papers. Others are kept hidden in other parts of the house, or perhaps in a couple of safe deposit boxes, in a couple of banks, somewhere. He's made it about as difficult as he can to decipher his finances so it will probably take my wife some time and a good bit of money paying professionals to figure everything out when that time comes.
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Old 02-01-2015, 10:52 AM
Location: Tennessee
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I think only to the extent the child will have to make up for a potentially indigent parent.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Emigrations View Post
I think only to the extent the child will have to make up for a potentially indigent parent.
I agree. I have to know about my in-laws finances, because I am their retirement plan apparently. I love them, and they were good parents inmany ways, but their financial decisions -- or specifically my father-in-law's financial decisions -- have always been extremely selfish. None of their children expect a cent from them (and have never gotten one ... no money for college, no help with weddings, no down payments on houses, no help buying that first beater car, not even a co-sign for a loan), but I naÔvely kind of expected them to be reasonable about retirement. I figured since most average middle class people work until they're 65 or so, they wouldn't feel entitled to retire at 62. Well, that was stupid of me to give them the benefit of a doubt.

I understand those of you are upset with your children for feeling entitled to "their inheritance", but this goes both ways. I would be extremely happy if my in-laws broke even at death. That's not how this is going to go down though. They're going to be a huge, huge financial drain on us. Is it wrong for me to want to force them to keep working while they still have their health? In about five years time, I will be in my early 40s and our one child will be in college. At that point, my wife and I will be in a much better position to house them rent free. We have planned on doing this since our early 20s. We even limited the number of children we had to make sure this would work. Five years from now though, my in-laws will be in dire straits. There's no way they're going to be able to make ends meet on $800 a month. How could that even begin to work?
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Old 02-01-2015, 12:02 PM
Location: Colorado
274 posts, read 416,605 times
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My adult son has always known all my financial information ... he never married (chances are pretty slim that he ever will) so he is joint owner of our house, my checking account is in his name also, he pays most of the bills (I lost my job in 2012, and despite what people say about if you 'want' to work for us who are on ss, no one is hiring someone my age - 66 ) .. when I die everything I have is his ... I only have one son, why would I keep anything from him?
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Old 02-01-2015, 01:09 PM
Location: Florida -
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Something I've done (in addition to having trusts, wills, irrevocable trusts, etc drawn-up) -- is to compile a full financial profile and 'retirement plan'. This will tell my wife (or kids) what we have (including LTC and Life insurance, etc.), where it is, financial contacts and the reason and strategy for different assets. About every 6-months, I also review the 'plan' and update our assets - to ensure that we are staying on-track.

I started before retirement with a relatively small (5-8) page document, and have since added other plans/summaries: annual income summary, taxes, analyses of different alternatives considered (ie; annuities, estate life insurance, grandkids college fund plan, etc). This is currently about a 20-25 page document without actual supporting documents themselves (which might be a good idea).

Overall, I have found this to be an excellent long-term planning document. Also, even thought my wife and kids have been told about our assets and plans, they are unlikely to remember or understand the ins/outs and why certain things have been done, ... should something happen to me. IMO, this is an excellent plan --- even for those who do not divulge their financial situation to their adult children.

- I may sound a little 'retentive' to some when it comes to planning, but, I'm really not. I've just seen too many instances where those left behind don't know what they are dealing with and are also totally unprepared to make consistent financial decisions. My wife's folks died about 10-years ago and even though she and her sister were co-Executors, things are still showing up (like old oil/mineral leases, etc).
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Old 02-01-2015, 02:36 PM
Location: North Monterey County
3,194 posts, read 2,861,612 times
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Spouse and I were the impetus for his parents to put everything in a family trust. We knew that dementia was setting in - they were 89 and 90 when we started to have conversations with them. A lot of what they were doing was not making sense.

When we found out they had something like 16 bank accounts with varying amounts ("they had such a good deal on interest" - which eventually went away).... we freaked. We also knew that dadinlaw was gambling in stocks and not doing well at it. We also knew they were going to need assisted living soon (dadinlaw's kidneys were failing) - and even with LTC insurance (that, BTW only would last 1.5 years) we didn't want their life savings going by the wayside just when they would need it.

Spouse has a sister who uses bankruptcy as her personal form of finance. We didn't want to work with her in the event of her parents failings..... she never showed and interest unless a check was going to be cut. She thought we should have left the parents alone - to fend for themselves. We helped them anyway ignoring her. Spouse and his sister SHARED trustee responsibilities once his parents were deceased as per the trust and their initial requests despite the parents knowledge of their daughter's incompetence with money.

We got them down to 6 bank accounts, we paid for the lawyer to draw up the trust and literally drove dadinlaw to the banks to give them the trust documents. Within 6 months his health was failing, dadinlaw had his license expired by his physician - and mominlaw failed her driving test (we anonymously reported her to the DMV). Time for assisted living. Spouse moved them, sold their condo, sold their car, and got them situated - within 3 weeks time.

Seven months later - dadinlaw dies of a heart attack. Mominlaw spirals in depression and wants to MOVE - doesn't wanna be in the same place as where dad died. She moves with spouse's help.

Prior to dadinlaw's death we have conversations with the folks that we cannot work with SIL. They agree and do not want a bank managing their money (the fees are considerable) once they die. We change the family trust to put spouse as sole trustee, POA and executor of his mother's will. Sister will get a signed notarized letter from her mother explaining the change - it will be delivered to SIL upon her mother's death.

MIL is now 94 - and still does her own bills. Writes her own checks. Spouse follows her checking account monthly. He is her healthcare POA as well.

She could live forever - and has the funds to do so. We just want her to be able to make her own choices as long as she can.

We do not strong arm her - but we do know what's going on. It's nuts not to know.
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