Both of my parents refuse to plan for the future. How do children accept parents decision to do nothing?

Mom is putting everything "in gods hands". Dad has always avoided conflict and can not make decisions. Neither have made health care plans, wills or burial plans. Despite telling Dad how much I want the homestead to remain in the family, he does not discuss it. My parents are divorced, and neither have made plans to pass on their estate to family. Instead they both expect to do nothing and accept what ever will happen. I am loath to express
My desire to buy Dads home and land.

Answers 1 to 10 of 16
I would make an appointment with an elder lawyer and insist that they go with you-the lawyer will be able to convince them how important this is and give your opiones then if they refuse to do any thing after you have told them how you feel there probably is nothing you can do except not be part of their lives-my mil had to be convinced to make plans and my husband was finally able to get through to her and she did turn over her house to him. Many elderly parents will not make decisions.
Top Answer

They might have gone their separate ways, but their psychological marriage seems to be alive and well. Deeply resentful, one might be waiting for the other to kick the bucket, inherit everything, and then make plans for the future. Another way to look at it is that they're depressed and don't care what happens to them because they miss each other -- and if their self-destruct modes also carry collateral damage. Their union, I guess, was supposed to last forever.

Austin made wonderful suggestions. But if it were up to me I'd lock them both in a room until they reach an agreement about how they're going to finance the rest of their lives on their own.

My mother, in not so many words, has always said we're supposed to take care of her in her golden years. She's never made any plans for the future either. I told her there ought to be law against people who bring children into the world and then expect them to pay for it. Ridiculous.

When my time has come to pass, I've made it clear to my sons I don't want to be buried or cremated. I want to be recycled. Organs have been spoken for; the rest of the carcass goes to science. My home in western Brazil is to be passed on from generation to generation, and shared by those in need as long as property taxes are paid. That's the way my grandfather and father wanted it; and definitely the way I want it. Otherwise it goes to the City. The same for my bachelor pad here in NYC. Any money left is to be invested on college-bound family members who really want an education.

Am I asking for too much?
Ice: The same thing happened to a friend of mine. She is the eldest and expected to take care of "everything." She is very responsible and practical and has asked her father, on many occasions, to put his thoughts in writing. (she has 7 siblings who are not as responsible. Her father expects HER to divvy up everything...can you imagine??)
My advice to her was to make it clear to her father that she would not be the executrix of their estate unless he does it formally and puts his wishes in writing. If not, let him ask one of the other children to take on this role. There are just so many problems that can crop up when someone dies without a will. The only exception is if they do not have extensive property or investments. If they only have bank products only, most banks require that they name a beneficiary. Therefore, a will would not be absolutely necessary.
IMHO I think it is best that the elderly think ahead and do some planning with an elder law attorney. There are government programs (such as Medicaid) that ask a recipient to "spend down" their assets before they can qualify. Why not divest of assets in the way you wish before you need the services? I do not understand why you would want to hang on to a large house or property that needs maintaining in your elderhood. I have so many relatives who sold their houses then wondered why it took them so long.
I do not know if it is an unreasonable fear of dying if they create wills, or a sign that the end is near, or just plain stubborness. Regardless, don't make their selfishness your problem.
Ed: You are not asking too much. If you do no planning in advance, you are not making your wishes known and leaving a mess for your kids to clean up. I applaud your foresight.

If you have siblings then do the reseach, have a surprise family meeting and each of you explain aspects of what you understand could occur without them making plans. They jointly ask them to see a attorney who specializes in elder law.
If they will not then you have done all you can.
Forget it.
Enjoy your time with them and when the time comes do what you can. Love them, care for them, but don't jump over the moon for them. People have to realize that their are consequences for their decisions and failure to make a decision is still a decision. If that means the property is sold and then end up on gov. assistance in a nursing home consider that was their decision. If you can help them avoid that when the time comes and it works for you without you having to make life altering changes by all means do so.
Ice, Some people can't face it when thinking about dying, so they just avoid talking about it. They're still gonna die, but that doesn't mean they have to talk about it I guess. I think I'd start with whichever parent you're closest to and tell him/her that you're going to make a will for yourself. Start broaching the subject of how you're going to handle things when you die and what your plans are for your family. Maybe by getting the subject out in the light it won't seem like if they talk about it, it's gonna happen right then. I don't know.
Icy - agree with all above. But there are somethings you can do now so that when you have the big come to Jesus meeting, you are prepared.

They each own property, correct? I'd suggest you go down to the tax assessors office and get the current documentation on all the properties, this should all be in the tax bill, will have the parcel number and other legal details you will need later on when you meet with an elder care attorney. This is all public information - you might be able to do this on line. But by going in you can also go and get copies of the PLAT of the properties and a history of all transactions on them. Get copies of the Deed of Trust, etc. This is well worth it.

My guess is that if the property has been owned for a long, long time what the property is and what you all think it is is different. This is why getting copies of the plat, deed of trust, etc. is important. If the property has been in the family or transferred from within the family for a while, the boundaries get fuzzy. Also there might be easements put on the property that the county or district have done or judgements against the property - when you do a property search this will show up. I've been executrix twice and in both there was ranchland property (one was not acres but sections) and none of it was what family members thought "auntie" had. By having it all direct from the assessor/tax collector there can be no argument on what's what. Then from that you can do a Trulia or Zillow search for what comparable properties have sold for to get an idea of their assets.

If you think they will need Medicaid to pay for LTC in the future, keep in mind that
if the property is farmland, it has a whole different set of qualifiers for Medicaid. You need to find an elder care attorney who has a practice in the county where the land is located. If it has cattle on it or heaven help you oil & gas run thru line revenues, then you need an attorney. O&G are kinda a nightmare as it usually really isn't very much money and they might not get the dividend but every decade until just recently and you have to do an amortization for Medicaid qualification.

Can you when visiting them find a recent copy of their bank statements so you know what they really have as assets? Same for their SS & retirement $$?

What all this is doing is creating a factual document of their assets for the family to discuss. It will have to be done at some point in time. If you don't do it and your parents refuse to do it and they have to go into a facility (and if they live long enough they will need to go into LTC eventually) the state can step in and take over and make them "wards of the state". Your family needs to realize that they need to present a united front to keep this from happening. When I was in & out of probate as executrix, I saw so much heartbreak with families that didn't plan and they had to go before the judge to get guardianship/conservatorship (done in probate court where estates are done) and so much of the time, the family would NOT get it because of silly infighting. There are paralegals that sit the day in court waiting to get assigned cases for their law firm. Once that happens you can forget
passing on anything. You know the family dynamics best, there is probably one child that mom & dad will listen to and look at the $#'s. Good luck.
Thank you everyone for your support. It is a relief to have the advice that everyone has offered. I have been in the South taking Family Medical Leave to support Dad (87) living at home. He has mobility and decreased strength issues.
I enjoy the time with him very much and it is a jpy to see him becoming stonger and happier because I here. It will be very difficult to leave because he is becoming more socially isolated as friends die.
Yes, the parcel has gas revenue... Not worth the problems that apparently that are cooking for the future. I will try to have a non- threatening candid talk with Dad again. I amt doing all I can to spend time and help out now.

My question to folks out there is this: I would consider not coming back for a funeral if things are a mess and it meant that family members will be pitted against each other. Would anyone else do same? I don't care what others would think of me... I have given my father time, love and support when he is alive.
Sorry for typo's... I am replying via iphone.
Ice: who is his direct caregiver now? It sounds like you live elsewhere...yes? If so, he really needs an advocate that can help with health and wellness issues and decisions. That would be my primary concern.

If you do not want to be involved in the financial issues and do not care about an "inheritance" which seems to be the case, you can divorce yourself from helping him with these issues. It sounds like they just want to let the chips fall where they may so I wouldn't worry about it. But if you are interested in his property, then that might get a bit dicey with the other family members. Maybe it is best to have a frank dicussion with him then consult an attorney....keep it a business transaction.

As far as the funeral is concerned, think only of your relationship to your father. Leave everyone else out of it - you owe them no explanations. If going to the funeral would give you closure and help you pay your final respects, by all means go. If it would cause you too much stress, stay put. It really is hard to say until the event occurs.
I had a similar issue with my parents. They had each other and so did not want to talk about what would happen when one of them was gone. I finally just got very honest with them and explained if you love me at all you will do this. I told them that I really want to respect your wishes however I can not do that if I do not know what they are. I also said I do not want to argue with anyone that is not comfortable to me... guess what they did what I asked... I know this is hard but you will be so glad and relieved when it is done!

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