Elder abuse can take many forms. Indifference is perhaps the cruelest. I read columns like Dear Abby and Miss Manners regularly. Last week a woman asked Miss Manners: Is my brother a little too eager for Dad to die? That’s a jarring commentary, but more common than you think.
In the letter, she describes her brother pushing her to ask Dad about his Will. And not just to confirm he’s a beneficiary, but also details about what things may be worth. Sis thinks he’s trying to get a ballpark figure on what his share of the Estate will be, even though Dad seems nowhere near dying.
With our parents living longer, some children are ready for their inheritances long before Mom or Dad are gone. The sad part here is that on some level the Dad must feel his son’s indifference and greed. And I’m sure this must weigh heavily on a parent. Miss Manners found it as abhorrent as I do.
They refer to this as the “sandwich generation”. Still trying to launch kids while also now caring for elderly parents, or, for some, just transitioning from one role to the other without a break in between. Typically, this affects daughters far more than sons, as daughters more often take on the caretaker role.
Does this rise to the legal definition of Elder Abuse, which focuses on financial and physical abuse? Perhaps not, but it is a form of abuse all the same and a sad commentary on one more way our seniors are treated. When I think of this, I see a lost opportunity. The collective family history and wisdom that should be cherished and passed along is perhaps being lost instead. I think about the time I spent with my grandmother and how often I still hear her words in my head or just some of the advice my mother would give to me.
I remind clients all the time, you do not have a legal right to inherit from your parents. It is a gift and it can be taken away. Disinheriting children is rare, but not illegal. And for the son in the example above, perhaps well deserved.
THIS IS WHERE WE CAN HELP
This is one of the reasons I got involved with estate planning. Situations that you think only happen on TV were showing up at my office and I wanted to help. During the estate planning process, we make sure to review and understand the family dynamics and relationships. If we sense a client is being influenced, there are many steps we take to ensure that our clients get the legal protections they deserve.
To find out more about our firm and how we can help, please contact us at 925-283-6691.