Beware the temptation to offload mum or dad

Peter Leith advises that we should proceed with caution in any match-making game.

Beware the temptation to offload mum or dad

Peter Leith is 89 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he has never been one to dwell on his challenges. Offloading mum or dad continues his series of true short stories and observations titled Aspects of Ageing.

•••

Longevity demands that we face the reality of having to deal with a widow or widower parent. The desire to ‘find someone nice’ for mum or dad must be tempered with caution. 

Even the most reputable ‘parent-recycling agencies’, including those with religious affiliations, do not give money-back guarantees relating to gold-digger types. Such individuals may cause emotional pain to your parent – and also threaten your inheritance.

Transferring ‘ownership’ of a parent is easier if the person you put forward as a suitable ‘someone’ does not have property of his or her own – which might cause problems with who lives where.

If any successful applicant for the role of sharing the burden of your ageing parent has few family members or property ties of his or her own, so much the better. Sharing the inheritance within one family is hard enough!

Of course, you and your siblings may have a real problem if your parent pre-deceases the new partner.

•••

This is one of a series of short stories in a growing collection called Aspects of Ageing.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to sunday@yourlifechoices.com.au and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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    COMMENTS

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    Barbara Mathieson
    28th Apr 2019
    9:08am
    Fraugh5 with danger - beware!
    MICK
    28th Apr 2019
    10:00am
    Gold diggers are out there in force. There's an old saying about where there's big money there's also big rats.
    Anybody who has a well off single aged parent will sympathise when they see vultures sensing a free feed show up. There's no shortage of them as they have worked out the inheritance laws are able to be abused to get all or at the very least a share of estates.
    Beware.
    Barbara Mathieson
    28th Apr 2019
    9:11am
    Fraught!
    Rosret
    28th Apr 2019
    9:44am
    Yep. We need an update on the laws to protect serial divorcees families. So many stories of the last alive wins all and gives it to their children only.
    MICK
    28th Apr 2019
    10:14am
    That's a real weakness in the current system. As things stand parents with dementia or with psychological issues can leave their estates to anybody they choose...which is in an increasing number of cases vultures who groom old people for the loot.
    Perhaps the laws will change when somebody in a position of power suffers what ordinary Australians suffer every other day. Until then keep a close watch on mum and dad if you can. Its Dodge City out there.
    maelcolium
    28th Apr 2019
    10:24am
    I dislike that term about protecting "your" inheritance because it implies ownership of property of the parent while they are still consuming oxygen. This is why elders are abused by family members. So let's not lose the view that there are voracious relatives who couldn't give a rat's arse about the happiness of their aging potential benefactor, but are more consumed by self interest. Frankly on all levels, well meaning relatives should butt out and let the aging relative make their own decisions, unless they are proven to be unsound of mind. An inheritance does not exist until a benefactor dies, so this notion of protecting one's inheritance is completely odious and repugnant.
    Leave older relatives alone. Provide assistance where requested, but don't try to influence them in their lifestyle decisions. There are laws to protect the elderly from abuse so if a gold digger is in the frame, then report it to the authorities after the obligatory discussion with the aged relative.
    Hardworker
    28th Apr 2019
    2:57pm
    Mick I think you are making the assumption that gold diggers are females. They are actually both. People who haven't had the opportunity to, or haven't bothered to acquire money for their future. Let me remind you that in our very unequal society, females in the past, and in some industries still today, have not, and do not, earn equal pay for equal work. There are still lots of older women out there who left school and got married and never went to work, which is what females were expected to do in the 50's and 60's. Actually slaves to their men as more often than not they were not even given an allowance from the household income for themselves while a lot of the men boozed regularly on a Friday night at the pub with their mates. Some women who got married have also been left penniless widows due to a whole host of reasons. So don't blame the women themselves, blame society for what it did to both men and women. Fortunately some of us are waking up and challenging what has been expected of us in the past. More females are more highly educated now and don't necessarily look to marriage as their saviour. There is a rather good book written by a male about relationships between men and women. The book is called "The Revolution of Man" Rethinking what it Means to be a Man by Phil Barker. Phil is obviously one of those men who has learnt his own lessons about relationships and now understands a lot more from the other side of the story. We probably need to start teaching more about relationships, work and finances at school because these issues can make or break one's life. Everyone needs to think about, and plan their future when they are in their teen years because it takes long term planning to come out on top at the end of your life and that only happens if all goes well and there are no slip-ups along the way. Planning and starting young can greatly assist with any slip-ups along the way. Everyone, no matter who they are, need to be wary of people with ulterior motives, especially if they are feeling lonely. And the advice has always been, if you get into a new relationship/marriage, make sure your Will has been adjusted accordingly and is watertight.
    Therese
    28th Apr 2019
    4:40pm
    It is not only if a man/women remarry that they could have caught a golddigger. There is another golddigger in this society. I have worked in an Aged Care where a woman was brought to us by a Priest who noticed that is alone and no family and born overseas she needs care and brought this old lady to us. Her memory was starting to play havoc. In the wing were 2 ladies waiting who used to come to her cleaning the house who worked for the Community Service. Both were from Overseas and noticed she is alone. When she was brought to us to the Aged care she had sold her house and her will was that the proceed after her death goes to the church. Those ladies came to visit her. They conviced her that the provider was taking all her money away. She had a Bank Account of 90K in cash and what did those 2 ladies do. They took her one morning to the Bank and closed the account and they opened up at another bank a new account. 10K went to France, 4K went to a solicitor. How did I found out as an accountant? Couple of days later we had to invoice for the accomodation charge out of her account, but the bank rejected it. That is how I found and the Business out that she suddenly had no more of that amount of money. It was a long process. Lucky we managed to get her money back as it was within 5 days and the other bank returned that money. It did not stop there. These 2 golddigger took the provider to the Court which was organised by the Health and Ageing Dept. These 2 golddiggers tried again. My boss the CEO and I went 2x to these hearings. Later, this lady was put under Trustees and the money had to be transferred out to them. Later this lady who could hardly speak English was removed from the place, which spoke her mother tongue to an ordinary english speaking Aged Care. I just want to give you an idea what can happen how golddiggers work, particularly watch out for those Community workers who are from overseas. The other story one of the lady who worked there her mother was in the Nursing Home. This worker filled in a form saying that she was to only relation she had here in Australia. When this mother died, suddenly we had a solicitor visiting us and requested information. It turned out she was not the only relative, there were more relatives in Australia who were entitled to her inheritance. So be aware, is all I can say.
    Therese
    28th Apr 2019
    4:40pm
    It is not only if a man/women remarry that they could have caught a golddigger. There is another golddigger in this society. I have worked in an Aged Care where a woman was brought to us by a Priest who noticed that is alone and no family and born overseas she needs care and brought this old lady to us. Her memory was starting to play havoc. In the wing were 2 ladies waiting who used to come to her cleaning the house who worked for the Community Service. Both were from Overseas and noticed she is alone. When she was brought to us to the Aged care she had sold her house and her will was that the proceed after her death goes to the church. Those ladies came to visit her. They conviced her that the provider was taking all her money away. She had a Bank Account of 90K in cash and what did those 2 ladies do. They took her one morning to the Bank and closed the account and they opened up at another bank a new account. 10K went to France, 4K went to a solicitor. How did I found out as an accountant? Couple of days later we had to invoice for the accomodation charge out of her account, but the bank rejected it. That is how I found and the Business out that she suddenly had no more of that amount of money. It was a long process. Lucky we managed to get her money back as it was within 5 days and the other bank returned that money. It did not stop there. These 2 golddigger took the provider to the Court which was organised by the Health and Ageing Dept. These 2 golddiggers tried again. My boss the CEO and I went 2x to these hearings. Later, this lady was put under Trustees and the money had to be transferred out to them. Later this lady who could hardly speak English was removed from the place, which spoke her mother tongue to an ordinary english speaking Aged Care. I just want to give you an idea what can happen how golddiggers work, particularly watch out for those Community workers who are from overseas. The other story one of the lady who worked there her mother was in the Nursing Home. This worker filled in a form saying that she was to only relation she had here in Australia. When this mother died, suddenly we had a solicitor visiting us and requested information. It turned out she was not the only relative, there were more relatives in Australia who were entitled to her inheritance. So be aware, is all I can say.
    Hardworker
    28th Apr 2019
    5:50pm
    You are so right Therese there are so many vulnerable individuals out there who are struggling on their own with no capable relatives or true friends to assist them. It is a very sad situation, especially for those with dementia/Alzheimer's disease and other mental disorders.
    MD
    28th Apr 2019
    5:45pm
    In't it amazing - the current preoccupation with big, bad, greedy, seedy and unscrupulous denizens of all things age related. If society has slewed so far from any modicum of decency that (presumably formerly) prevailed might suggest that each and every one of us may have contributed in some small way - as commonly referred to - by greed or covetousness.
    Lawdy forbid... that we're 'entitled' to a gubbermint guaranteed age pension seems irrelevant in the face of an inheritance prospect to which we're just as assuredly 'entitled' ?
    How dare any unsavoury ne'er-do-well usurp our best laid plans and preposterous to think that because it happened to 'someone I know', that it will happen to me.

    Me, me, me, me! Retirement should be the time to move on from the negative introspection and keep an open mind to the abundance of goodness in our fellow man - without the tacky predisposition to consider so many others as leeches looking to bleed us.
    Ted Wards
    29th Apr 2019
    9:38am
    oh boy, its not only the golddiggers, but if they have children you have to watch out what designed their children have on the estate. My Mum passed away at 52 and 6 months later dad had found what he thought was his ideal partner. They never got married but did a commitment ceremony where they dedicated their lives to each other. At that ceremony the Troll as we all called her actually wore my mother's clothes. Then later that night her daughter boasted that her mum had given her a lot of my mums jewellery, clothes perfumes, and some that was my grandmothers, not to mention household items. When we confronted dad about this issue a few days later, he got very defensive and tried to justify why the Troll was doing this. My sister and I then went into dad's room opened up the wardrobe and the troll mostly had all my mothers clothes. We ended that little thing. We told dad she had no right to our mothers things and he had no right to give them to anyone. It turned out it was against mums will. Then dad started to threaten us that she was moving in and they were going to live together. That never bothered me personally because I didn't want dad to be alone. It didn't stop there, dad was then giving her children and grandchildren money to pay off home loans and all sorts. Dad made the troll live off her pension but didn't declare to centrelink they were living together. Dad then started to run out of money and had to say no to the daughter for yet more money and suddenly centrelink were knocking on their door and busted them for living together without declaring it. Dad had to pay back the money he fraudulently claimed. When it came time for the Troll's daughter to start paying back the money because dad needed it to live on,,,they claimed they had no money which they did not because they had brought a new car, a caravan and jet skis with money. Long story short, they had to sell it all and their house to pay dad back the full amount plus interest.
    By all means find a partner but keep finances separate, make sure you have an agreement in place about who owns what and never put your new partners name on anything. Avoiding problems is easier then trying to fix these issues cause by a caring heart.
    Pardelope
    5th May 2019
    2:05am
    Thank goodness they had to repay your father, but I bet that was not a cheap or easy thing to achieve.
    Pardelope
    5th May 2019
    2:00am
    Gold diggers (parasites) are everywhere - and often cleverly disguised. Finding a new partner should not be seen as a cure for loneliness - or a way of getting a live in carer. Get it wrong, and there will be havoc. Marriage, not being married, sharing, power of attorney, guardianship, dementia, loneliness, love, generosity, greed, entitlement are all words and situations which may be part of the minefield that needs to be negotiated. Being poor is no protection as I have seen theft of loose change, basic toiletries, food - as well as a fight over a small TV and 1/2 a small chamois cleaning cloth. We all hope that we will not lose our marbles or become dependent, but there are no guarantees. It is vital to play devil's advocate and try to foresee and prevent any future difficulties. This might involve early division of goods and chattels - and transfers or downsizing of property. It might be worthwhile setting up trusts (with specific rules) to make it more difficult to be plucked. Get professional advice about how to set up methods to make things safer for yourself (and any other people you wish to protect). Make sure you have an up-to-date will (checked by a lawyer) and keep it in a public Will Bank (not in the home or local bank). Always get different opinions and do not allow yourself to make hasty decisions.
    Pardelope
    5th May 2019
    2:06am
    Pre-nups are legal in Australia. Maybe that is also something to consider.


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