Free FatCat Newsletter
Learn how to manage your money betterSubscribe Now
Lots of families have one: a family freeloader.
Lots of families have one: a family freeloader. The adult child who still gets money from parents each month to make it.
He or she never quite kept stable employment. Maybe there’s a substance abuse or mental health problem that sibling has. For whatever reason, the aging parents have been bailing him or her out for decades. What brings this to a crisis point is that a parent’s health fails or a parent passes away. Then what?
The sibling who has never been able to make it independently is in a panic. That sibling has not been able to earn enough to live on, nor to manage finances. No plan is in place for self support. Sometimes this leads to financial elder abuse by the financially dependent adult child. Even if that does not happen, emotions can explode among other family members over decades of unequal treatment among siblings by parents.
A need to use the parent’s financial resources to pay for a parent’s care can bring the situation to light. If there are enough resources in the parent’s estate to provide for the financially dependent “freeloader”, it is not such a problem. The trustee of the parent’s estate can arrange for continued support. However, if there are insufficient resources, the situation can force action upon the other family members.
Sometimes, people come to us at AgingParents.com when it’s too little, too late. Here’s a real life example:
There are four adult children, all in their 50′s. Mom, a widow is in her 80′s, still lives in the family home, but her health is failing. She needs to be in a memory care facility and plans are in place to move her there. She has no other assets besides the family home, which needs to be sold to pay for the care facility. Their financially dependent sibling, Ben, has been unemployed for the past 10 years. He is not cut out for caregiving and can’t provide that help for Mom. He has lived in the family home with Mom for years and doesn’t want to move. He is in a battle with his siblings to get out. He has no place to go.
Push has come to shove and eventually the sheriff was called in to evict Ben. He became homeless. It is a tragedy that could have been prevented.
Did this family have other options?
Yes, they did. Various possible solutions could have been tried but no one initiated them.
The possibility of using the equity in Mom’s home to pay for care at home was potentially a choice. Ben could have been housed there as long as Mom was able to be cared for at home. In the interim, between initiating home care and the end of Mom’s life or her move to a nursing home, Ben could have made some plans to work out how to survive. His siblings could have participated in the planning for his transition. If he were work-disabled, he would have time to apply for disability benefits that might be available to him. If he were capable of working, he would have time to acquire skills or put effort into finding employment.
Another option was to have one of the other siblings take Ben in on a temporary basis so that he could have an opportunity to find work while keeping a roof over his head, or seek any benefits to assist in his survival going forward. The coldness of the siblings was shocking to me. They did nothing.
Ben had not gotten any help with the problem of being unable to support himself. His was a complex picture but it did not involve substance abuse or a diagnosed mental health issue. He could not avail himself of social services in his county, as he did not know what to do nor how to get vocational assistance or job training. A more capable sibling could have provided guidance in this.
This family had never discussed the problem of what Ben needed to do when Mom needed full time care. That was perhaps the most glaring omission in the entire picture. Three other siblings might have worked together to help their brother avoid homelessness, even if they didn’t approve of his “freeloader” habits. No one did any advance planning and a tragic outcome was the result.
When a parent loses independence and needs full time care, it can affect every family member.
If you have someone in your family who is like Ben, think ahead. What will happen to him or her when the parent who supports financial dependency can’t do any longer? As uncomfortable as this is, every family with an adult in it who can’t support himself needs to work together to keep the dependent sibling or other relative sheltered, at least. The smallest amount of sibling decency can go a long way. A little honest planning can prevent the worst from happening, as in this heartbreaking real case.
I just had a question regarding franked dividends.
If for example:...
Hello, I am concidering a part ten agreement and wanted some advice. I owe about $280,000 (business...
I have been reading comments in the media recently from people who have differing views on bankruptcy...
Ha anyone had experiences with My Rate Home Loans?
They say they are cheaper due to no...
I am in a capital protected investment scheme and it is, to be charitable, useless in...
My daughter decided to opt out of a course with an education department. We have a debt now &...
Hi all FatCat members,
Some of you may have received a message from a member on...
ASIC has a paper on interest free deals, which are not always what they appear to be...
Have you been the victim of a scam? Please share your stories and advice to help others avoid falling...