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HORIZON BLOG

Dad Is Giving Money Away

 

Question

"How do I get past the fear that my father is giving money or household items to the caregivers that come to his house? I have the sense he feels obligated to give them gifts, whether it’s out of gratitude or that he thinks they could use the cash. I don’t know if he’s being taken advantage of or if the idea comes from him.

Dad is definitely sound of mind and capable of managing his own investments and affairs so far. Still, I have a nagging feeling he is giving away more than what is reasonable. How do I broach the subject with him without offending? I don’t want to hurt, insult or embarrass him."

 

Answer

This situation certainly has its own set of challenges. You’ve identified one that many adult children encounter when there are nonfamily caregivers in the home, though it can even happen with family caregivers. Proximity is the challenge.

When a homebound individual has someone attending to their needs, they become comfortable with them, and grateful for the help. If they are giving by nature, they may start giving the caregiver gifts. They are usually nominal and have no impact on your parent’s wellbeing. But on occasion, the parent will start giving away family heirlooms or larger sums of money.

There are also times when a caregiver tries to manipulate the parent into “lending” or “giving” large sums of money, through repeated stories of hardship. Either way, it’s cause for concern. You hire caregivers to take care of your parents, not take advantage.

It’s time to step up, but it won’t be easy to have this conversation. If your father is of sound mind, he will be defensive and even question your motives. I would recommend approaching this by discussing with him that you are there to help him manage his assets. For him to live comfortably for the rest of his life, he will need to manage his finances in a way that allows him enough cash for his lifetime. None of us know how long we will live or how much money it will take to provide our care, so careful consideration is needed to ensure our needs are met. Let your father know that if anyone asks him for cash or valuables, he can ask you for help in navigating the situation. Becoming a team on this provides safety and comfort to the both of you.

However, if you’ve never had the type of relationship with your father where you could have an open dialogue about finances, investments and spending, then it will be difficult to start now without him thinking you’re worried about an inheritance. Also, if you have not demonstrated sound money practices in the past, you may not have credibility in his eyes. Trust is earned in all situations. If you have been a good steward of your own finances, Dad will listen easier.

I wish you well on this journey.

 

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