Siblings & Aging Parents

Dad and adult daughter

It wasn’t until Amie’s 73 year old father’s transmission blew, and he was stranded on the side of the highway, did she and her sisters find out that he was in serious financial trouble. Amie’s dad, Ken, had lost a good chunk of his pension when the recession hit.  Then he also lost some of his wife’s social security benefits when she passed away a couple of years ago. Finances were beyond tight, and Ken had been too proud to say anything to his children.  He had missed his first mortgage payment – ever – and now he also needed a new car. It was time for his girls to step in and help out – any way they could…

Living 1,000 miles away, Amie wanted peace of mind that her dad was driving a reliable, gas efficient vehicle. And knowing that she and her husband Jack were in a good place financially, they immediately offered to buy Ken a new car.

Having spearheaded the effort to get her father on better financial footing, Amie emailed her sisters, Joss and Kara, to let them know they too needed to contribute financially in whatever way they could so Ken wouldn’t lose his home.  Joss, who lives closest to their dad, was thrilled that Amie had remedied the car situation, but then readily informed her that with college coming up in a few years for both her kids, she was in no in a financial position to help. And then there was Kara, who had moved to France five years ago – who never responded to the request at all…

Upset and disappointed, Amie feels like her father’s financial security has been put entirely on her shoulders. She would do anything for her dad, but she also feels completely abandoned by her siblings and thinks they have an obligation to contribute any way they can. While she understands that the three sisters are all in different financial positions – even $50 more a month would make a difference to Ken.

Do you think Amie should continue to try and get her sisters to chip in?  Or should she accept the family dynamics, not cause any more trouble, and focus on doing what she can do to help her dad?

What would you do?  Tell us what you think!




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5 Responses to “Siblings & Aging Parents”

  1. louie says:

    Whenever family dynamics enter into a picture it presents problems. Sure, the sisters are obligated to pitch in whatever they can comfortably afford, but you can’t make the horse drink the water if he doesn’t want to. Amie needs to do what she can herself and obviously not rely on her siblings for anything. A financial adviser might be in order to see alternatives that can be put into place for her Dad.

  2. Molly says:

    Sadly, Amie’s sisters don’t give a darn about their Dad, and while she may get them to chip in a few bucks at first, it’ll stop soon.

    What I would recommend is that Amie have a heart to heart with her Dad and let him know that his other two daughters can’t or won’t help him, and that she’s going to make sure he’s okay.

    She needs to talk to a financial advisor about either getting him a reverse mortgage, or putting his house in a trust that she controls. There are many options and a good financial advisor can explain them all to her. Assuming her Dad is in good health, he could easily live another 10 – 20 years, and it would be most unfair if Amie helped him financially for all those years and then when he passed on, the other two sisters found their way to ask for their share of his estate, which they would legally be entitled to, unless the Dad did something to protect Amie now.

  3. Sue says:

    I agree with the first 2 comments. A financial advisor is needed. Sadly Molly is right in saying that the 2 sisters will probably be there with hands out when dad dies. I have a friend who the story rather sounds like hers except it is her husbands father. There are more children involved but only one helping and with a lot of money. The odd thing is that the only daughter being the favored child is always at the home and removes items and sells them but the money does not go to dad. She can do no wrong it seems.

  4. Alice says:

    Ken probably spent his every cent educating and caring for his children. Unfortunately, that devotion to family is not always internalized by all of the children. One may view family love as an easy means of getting what he wants. Another may simply have very little feeling for parents and siblings, never having truly bonded with them in a meaningful way. Whatever the case, Ken and his wife definitely got through to Amie on a love and devotion level, which will end up bringing Amie a great deal of solace as the years go on. She is a loving and kind daughter who, if she has children, will be teaching them the only kind of lesson that ever matters. Do as I do….

  5. Susan says:

    If the daughter who lives closest is not able to pitch in financially, she should do other things for her dad given her proximity. Maybe she can drop off some meals, help him go through his mail or make sure his house is cleaned. Just because her kids will soon be attending college does not give her a get of jail free card for helping out. As for the other sister, it’s easy to ignore an email, so perhaps Aimee should try skyping with her and express her concerns. If that doesn’t work, then she probably can’t count on her for help.

Any Thoughts?