How to Protect Your Parentsí Assets and Estate from Greedy Siblings
The steps you can take to protect your senior parentsí assets and estate from an unscrupulous brother or sister will vary depending on your circumstances. In general, consider taking the following steps:
1. Meet with an estate planning or elder law attorney to discuss legal options.
2. Try to engage your parents in a discussion about the costs of nursing home and in home care to determine if they have a plan to pay for such expenses. Help your parents meet with a financial planner if they are interested in receiving assistance with long term care planning. If your parents may need Medicaid benefits to pay for long term care, arrange for them to meet with an attorney about Medicaid planning.3. Encourage your parents to keep valuables such as jewelry, stock certificates, bonds, coins, collectibles, etc. in a home safe or a
safe deposit box at their bank. Also, encourage them to keep financial account passwords, checks, financial statements, and credit card bills in a secure place.
4. Offer to assist your parents with review and monitoring of their financial records, such as bank, brokerage, and retirement account statements, as well as credit card bills. This is often very difficult. Whether your senior parents need assistance with budgeting or keeping their financial information secure, communicate your willingness to help with these tasks.5. Discuss the benefits of making a financial power of attorney with your parents, if they do not have one. If your parents want you to act as their agent on certain financial matters, assist your parents in retaining a lawyer to prepare a power of attorney. See power of attorney forms.6. If you learn your sibling has taken money or property from your parents without their permission, discuss it with your parents. See
undue influence. If your parents need legal advice on their options, help them consult a lawyer.7. If you have a parent who is no longer able to manage his or her affairs due to dementia, Alzheimerís Disease, or another type of health condition, consult an elder law attorney about petitioning for a conservatorship.8. If you are concerned your brother or sister may attempt to take property from the estate of either parent, talk with your parents about whether they have an estate plan. Discuss issues such as naming an executor of a will or trustee of a living trust and the importance of naming a trustworthy, competent executor or trustee. If your parents want to name you executor of their estate,
estate planning software can be used to print estate planning documents at home. If they want to hire an estate planning lawyer, see finding an attorney.
Protect Your Parents From Greedy Heirs
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people willing to take advantage of seniors. This is especially true if your parents are generous individuals or rely on others for help with daily tasks. Most people do not want to believe their own relatives would take advantage of an elderly family member or remove property from an estate. However,
inheritance theft happens in a lot of families.The problem with greedy siblings and greedy heirs is complicated because seniors often want to maintain their independence, especially where finances are concerned. They do not want to turn over control of their money to an adult child or caregiver, but you may start to realize your parents are having difficulty managing their affairs. Deciding whether a durable power of attorney should be used in this situation is one of the most challenging aspects of estate planning. See
power of attorney risks.One thing you can do to help your parents is keep a watchful eye on what is happening with relatives that visit or spend a lot of time with your parents. If your parents have substantial assets, they may receive extra attention from someone with bad intentions. For a list of some of the tactics used by greedy heirs, as well as friends and caregivers, go to
Resources to Help Your Parents
One of the most important things for parents in these situations to understand is their problems are not unique. Adult children taking advantage of senior parents, and even stealing from them, has become more prevalent in our society. The starting point in protecting your parents is to get them to begin setting boundaries with your siblings.In most cases, there is a long history of the parent giving in to the demands of the adult child. As frustrating as it is for other family members to watch, the parent is usually very conflicted about what to do. It may seem like the most irresponsible child is being rewarded. Sometimes all you can do is provide your parents information and leave the decisions to them. Left unchecked, greedy siblings will take everything from the estate and leave nothing for the other rightful heirs. This may result in
Talking to Parents About Greedy Siblings
If you need to prepare yourself to talk with your parents about difficult financial issues such as estate planning, paying for long term care, managing money during retirement, or loaning money to your siblings, the book
Protecting Your Parents' Money by Jeff D. Opdyke is a good starting point. It includes a helpful worksheet to help you have the talk with your parents. This comprehensive guide also features tips on navigating Social Security and Medicaid.