Can caring for sick parents cause inheritance clashes?

Some Detroit adults find themselves having to care for an old, ailing parent, with the other parent having passed away. However, sometimes if an adult child is granted responsibility for the parent’s finances, that child may try to take over the parent’s finances entirely even if the parent spells out different wishes or if another sibling wants a share of what would potentially be an inheritance. Forbes explains a number of reasons why such clashes may happen.

For one thing, some adult children may not put away enough money for their retirement. So when one parent dies and the other is sickly or infirm, the adult children may receive control over their parents’ money. However, if their surviving parent requires care, the money will likely come out of their parent’s assets, which will cost the adult children a portion of their eventual inheritance. 

Entitlement can also be a factor. Adult children may expect that their parents’ inheritance will help fuel their own retirement and will plan their financial futures according to that belief. However, this can cause a nasty surprise if one or more parents can no longer care for themselves. That inheritance they were counting on may be depleted to care for the parents in their final years.

Also, many families are on a tight budget and find the sudden responsibility of caring for a parent burdensome. Some families only make a living from a two parent income. These younger parents who face the prospect of needing to care for an older relative can find it to be too much to handle. They may put the ailing parent away in a nursing home to preserve their inheritance and also to ease what they believe to be a financial burden on their own finances.

To try to prevent these inheritance clashes will likely require careful planning by parents and their children before it is too late. Parents should make clear what their health care wishes are in the event they become infirm and cannot care for themselves. Adult children can also plan for their futures knowing that caring for their parents may become a possibility.

Since inheritance issues can vary greatly from person to person, do not consider this article as legal counsel. It is only intended for general information purposes.