My father is 70 years old and lost my mom to cancer 6 years ago. He started dating a younger woman about a year ago and she is moving into his home next month. I think they are planning on getting married or at least that’s what my brother says.
My father has a considerable estate and I am worried he is not doing the proper estate planning to protect his assets. How can I gently remind him to take care of this business without coming across like a greedy jerk?
I would hate to see my mom’s money and my dad’s go to this woman if he marries her and dies first. Or at least half of it – I’m not sure what the rule is and whether or not he even has a will. I’m worried about my dad and that she might take advantage of his good nature.
Any ideas? I’ve seen you give out scripts before so maybe you can write me one!
Dear Worried Daughter:
Thank you for the email correspondence in which you gave me more information, including that your father worked very hard for 50 years to build his estate and that his new “younger” girlfriend is in fact 57 and still working.
Before I answer your questions, I want to let you know how very lucky you are! Why? Because I am forcing myself today to be both nice AND brief due to my excruciating jet lag and my need to meet an extremely important deadline.
By “nice,” I don’t mean “nice” of course, but rather not too mean. And by “brief,” I don’t mean “brief” but rather less pleonastic than usual.
I’ve received so many variations on this subject over the past year and I’m happy to address it again. I hope I am not repeating myself but if so, bear with me.
I like the name you chose for yourself, “Worried Daughter,” because while I think you want to portray yourself as worried about your dad, the ugly truth is that your real concern is for yourself and the amount of money that will fall into your hands once your dad kicks his oxygen habit.
You said “my father has a considerable estate” and “I would hate to see my mom’s money and my dad’s go to this woman…” and I’d like to address those two statements.
1. “My father has a considerable estate.”
Good for him! Since he used business acumen and investment savvy to earn and grow that estate, you can probably assume he’s done some estate planning. That’s the good news!
The bad news is that there is no such thing as an heir to a living person, so you have to wait until your dad pegs out to see what he left you. At this point, unless he’s dumped a bunch of assets into an irrevocable trust with you named as the beneficiary, you have no interests or rights to his money. Therefore, it would behoove you to stop acting as if you do.
In other words, I wouldn’t buy that second home in Southern France just yet.
2. “I would hate to see my mom’s money and my dad’s go to this woman if he marries her and dies first.”
Your mom doesn’t have any money. She’s dead. While I may not be a big believer in the afterlife, I’m pretty sure if there is one we won’t have to bring our debit cards.
You told me your mom left 50% of her personal estate to your dad and you and your brother split the other 50%. “Your mom’s money” is therefore nonexistent.
As for your dad’s money, that is his to do with what he chooses. I feel sorry for people like you who have this expectation to inherit money when the parents pass on.
You told me you have long “known” that you would get a sizable chunk of change when your dad suffers a substantive negative outcome of an otherwise ordinary day. You also confessed to me that you have been counting on that money to make some dreams happen in the future including buying a business and a larger home.
I find that terribly sad, I really do.
The people I know in life who are sitting around waiting for their parents to die and leave them money (or who have already inherited and are living off the sweat of another instead of their own) are aimless, lazy, unmotivated, spoiled, and suffer from an overwhelming sense of entitlement that paralyzes them and prohibits their development into a functioning and productive member of society.
Personally I neither expect nor want a dime from my parents. I hope they spend every last cent on themselves and enjoy their hard-earned cash until the moment they can’t spend it anymore. If something is left they should leave it to charity – not to me.*
If you have dreams you want to achieve, make them happen on your own. You are a grown-ass woman waiting for her father to die so she can avoid hard work and being responsible for herself. Do you collect alimony too?
Finally, you asked “How can I gently remind him to take care of this business without coming across like a greedy jerk?”
The answer is simple. You can’t. And maybe you should ask yourself if your dad already thinks you are a greedy jerk because he hasn’t even shared with you the news he is getting married. Your attitude which came through loud and clear in your email and subsequent messages to me is probably not lost on your father.
You may not be as secure in your inheritance as you think you are. Time to start kicking ass and making things happen under your own steam, my dear.
* Dear Parents, please leave it to the new charity “Robin DesCamp’s Shoe Foundation.” I’ll send you more info soon.