Elderly parents, wills and prodigal children(21 Posts)
My parents have started talking about their wills. In one way I don't want to know/think about it but I also realise, these are important conversations to have.
I have a sibling who I shall call the prodigal (PG) because of going months at a time without speaking to the rest of the family out of laziness rather than argument. PG has very little to do with our parents and all of the contact and day to day help are down to me even though we live a similar distance away. I don't begrudge this. They are my parents and it's not a big deal to mow the lawn, put things in the loft, pop in for a cup of tea at the weekend, etc for them. They are not yet at the stage of needing care but just need help with the bigger jobs and enjoy having company.
Our parents want to do the right thing and split and any inheritance 50:50 between us. Fine by me. However this is making them really stressed as PG is quite materialistic and has, in the past, been dishonest with money. PG also earns a lot (think offshore account levels) while my parents and I have had fairly average incomes.
They would really rather not leave PG half of everything as they are likely be very demanding when it comes to wanting 'their share' and I will be the executor. PG has also made my parents feel uncomfortable by going through their things and asking about finances. It's hard to describe but PG acts in an avaricious way which makes my parents feel unsettled after they have visited (which is maybe 3-4 times a year).
However their sense of fairness is overriding their gut instinct of not wanting to do a 50:50 split.
So my question is, has anyone been in a similar situation and how have you handled it? I feel that my options are:
1. Don't say anything. It is their money and entirely their decision.
2. Encourage them to do a 50:50 split if they think this is the right thing and downplay how difficult my sibling might be to me as the executor.
3. Encourage them to follow their gut instinct and do something else - perhaps leaving £xx to each of us and the rest to charity.
4. I don't think I could encourage them to leave more to me and less to my sibling even though I think this is really what they want to do. It feels unethical even though any inheritance (from a house sale) would make a huge difference to me and my family and be less than a few bonuses for my sibling.
Thanks for getting to the end!
No words of advice but you might get a better response asking this to be moved to the Relationships or Chat board. This one doesn't really get seen much
When my mum did her will she discussed it with all 3 of us and left her house to my sister who was in a tied cottage and had had a chaotic life with no hope of ever having her own place .
My brother was in a HA property in London and had been there 25 years on a very good rent . He had MH. problems and was not working so a lump sum would have turned his benefits upside down and left him no better off, just very confused .
My situation was very much more comfortable ( and I was the one caring for mum ) and I was happy with the final outcome of sister getting the house and contents and my brother and I sharing the small amount of cash .
In your situation I would tell my parents that it is completely up to them as indeed it is and you will cope with any fall out .
Just a thought would it make things any easier if they appointed an independent executor ?
Completely up to your parents. It should be 50-50. However it would also be fair to allocate 5k or similar per year for day to day care provided by yourself.
You can't suggest this probably but they could start giving you money now as " payment" for your services and then evenly split after death. Remember they won't both go at the same time so it may be many years before final one goes. You will have done a lot by then if pattern continues.
But definitely not db as executor. Get an outsider.
I think the 5 k per year for day to day care and assistance is fair and if your brother knows about it now then has the option to help out equally.
What is the end result your oarents are aiming for? If its minimal dischord, I would say the biggest bone of contention was the sale of the family home - so pehaps splitting the assets so liquid ones (savings and investments) go to the sibling, whereas property goes to you? This will mean a faster probate, so limited contact needed with sibling.
The other one is funeral arrangements, if your parents have already made arrangements this makes it so much simpler - whatever the make up of family, bereavements bring out the best and worse in people.
Saying nothing to him is a bad idea. All that will happen is you will end up fighting with him after they are gone, at a time when you have the least strength to do so.
Ask them what they want to do, and sit him down to tell him their decision now. Perhaps if you have a chat with him about the things they feel uncomfortable with he might realise what a twat he is being. If you genuinely don't mind what happens, then let them know YOU are comfortable with a 50/50 split.
Do you have DC? Does he? One way to do it would be to have them split the money across the DC too. MIL is splitting her inheritance so our DD is gifted a share too. BIL has no children but is fine with DD being included in that way.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.
All talking openly about this is the most logical approach but feels like the hardest as, being brutally honest, I think my parents are afraid of PG.
It's shit isn't it, elderly parents fearing the over-reaction of one of their children? Especially about their own possessions.
I'll let all of the advice percolate a bit before chatting it through with my folks.
* I will be the executor.*
My solicitor advised me not to have any beneficiary of my will as an executor. It will be a conflict of interest if you are the main beneficiary and your sibling is likely to contest the will. *I'm not legally qualified.
Hmmm. Don't be the executor. Stay out of it completely-including comments about what you think is the case with your sister. You may well be wrong.
OP could you reason with your parents that the most benign and least conflicting way to manage this is to appoint a solicitor of their choice as the executor or their estate.
You may not want to explain it like this, but what it does is take it out of the family's direct management so that anything your brother doesn't like, he will have to address his concerns to the legal profession which may deter him.
And if I were you I would stay out of any discussions about how they decide to split their will. It's a thorny and conflicting issue and there's no real "right or wrong.
Just say to them, whatever they decide to do is fine by you, then quickly change the subject!
You obviously think you should get more than half for your own reasons. Unless there are compelling reasons such as disability or drug use etc an equal split is the only reasonable option. All an executor does is administer the will they can’t unilaterally change it or give themselves more than the will states or that is theft. It’s quite normal for beneficiaries to be executors unless there is chance of falling out or lack of trust then it’s best to appoint third party professional but that will cost of course.
Could they ask someone hardass to be executor, someone who will be strictly fair in dividing the estate?
It’s a big ask of a non beneficiary. Only fair to recompense a third party if they do agree to act. Otherwise why would you? Thats what you pay a solicitor or professional trustee to do.
I agree it would be better if you weren't the executor, otherwise they are just leaving you a massive nightmare.
I also agree it would be better if they paid you now (or put it in their will) a sum per year for care.
I would also try and get them to appoint an independent executor (solicitor?) even if they have to pay, as although it's up to them what they so with their money, its unfair for you to have to deal with your sibling if they are going to be pressuring you at what will already be a difficult time. This will hopefully also put their mind at rest that there won't be as many arguments when the time comes.
And helping you out with small payments to thank you for your assistance in the mean time sounds like a good compromise
Your parents should make their will leaving the bulk to you, and perhaps some memento-level bequests to the PG. They clearly want you to have it, your financial "need" is greater than his, and their bond with you seems stronger. Once they have the will signed, witnessed & lodged with a solicitor/bank they & you should put it out of your minds completely.
Alternatively you & your parents could consider transferring their house into your name, with them retaining the right to live their for the rest of both their lives, which a solicitor could easily do. Again, once it's done put it out of your mind & continue your lives as before. There's no need for the PG to be told anything about it & he'll know when the time comes.
Maybe you've sorted this by now, but we had something similar with MIL. She has three boys, including a "PG", and she wanted to leave his share to the children of the other son (we have no DC). The resulting mess would be horrendous and, as she didn't want to fracture the family, PG will get his share (against her better judgment), and the grandchildren will have separate bequests.
Not having any DC, our "branch" will get least but better that than a massive family bust up. I suppose...
Ask your parents to get proper legal advice
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