Dad Living with Buddies
"We have a situation with my father. Dad has done well in life, and we believe he has a sizable portfolio. He has decided to move in with two of his buddies who have not managed their money well. We are concerned his friends will unfairly rely on him for financial support, as they have only Social Security to live on. My father is in his late eighties, and I would say he is mentally alert but more gullible at this point in his life. I do not believe he came up with this idea on his own.
We believe our father will be taken advantage of and that our inheritance may be frittered away by his friends. What recommendations do you have?"
The good news is that you are recognizing a potential problem before it occurs. It does appear that you have something brewing here.
What concerns me is the mention that your father is not making decisions with as much prudence as he did before. With age comes less processing power and slower reaction to threats for some individuals. If you think your father is acting completely out of character and is being manipulated by his friends, you need to intercede for his protection.
If your father's friends are longstanding friendships, his allegiance to them may be quite strong. In fact, depending on his assets and attitude he may not care about the cost of supporting them. Also, prepare yourself for the possibility that he may not care about what you view as your inheritance. As children, we often feel an inheritance should follow the end of our parents’ lives, but that is not our decision. The money belongs to him.
So, what does a child do in this circumstance?
If the move is still only an idea, I recommend spending some quality time with your father. Have regular meals or outings during which you can talk. This situation presents an opportunity that could enrich both your father's life and yours. If he is too disagreeable for a relationship, realize that your estrangement may send him down another path for his assets.
If the decision to move is in motion, you may have little recourse unless you can conclusively show his doctor and a judge that your father is not of sound mind. Remember that the assets belong to him. If you actually believe that he is incompetent and is being used, contact his physician and a lawyer.
I wish you the best.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
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