The Moneyist: My father left everything to my son. When I called the attorney about the will, my son got very upset. I now need financial help. Should I ask him for money?
When my father passed away, he left his house and all his money to my son. I was not included in the will. I took care of my father seven days a week when he came back from the hospital. I never received any payment from him except his cane. I am a senior citizen so at least I use it.
When I called the attorney about the will, my son got very upset and would not talk to me or let me see my grandson. We have only now started to communicate again. Five years later, I finally got the chance to see my grandson, but I must carefully watch what I say and do.
I am really struggling with Social Security and my son has been living off the money from the sale of the house, which amounts to $255,000. Believe me, I could use some of that money, but I do not want to ruin the relationship that I have worked so hard to build with my son and his family.
It took a long time for me to get this far with my son. I am trying to figure out how I can talk to my son about possibly giving me some money from the sale of the house. Please advise. Do you think I should approach him a second time and ask him for financial help, given his sizable inheritance?
This is not the first letter I have received about a grandparent being banned from seeing their grandchild. Some adult children, it seems, use their own kids as leverage in disagreements with their parents. There are laws in some states that give grandparents visitation rights, but it’s hardly an ideal path to take, given the time and expense, and the fact that there is no guarantee of success.
It’s a tough break to take care of someone for all that time and to have that person cut you out of their will. I can see why you would have been upset, given how you helped your father. You are not alone. The average working caregiver spends 20-plus hours a week on caregiving responsibilities and pays $6,954 a year out-of-pocket, nearly 20% of her income, on care-giving costs.
Five U.S. states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York and Washington) and the District of Columbia have enacted laws guaranteeing paid family and medical leave. Some 43.5 million Americans provide regular care for an older adult — typically a relative or partner — as an unpaid care giver, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP.
Your son has made his feelings known. I wish he were the kind of person who could think about the needs and feelings of those close to him, but he appears reluctant or unable to do so. My hunch is if you told him that you were having trouble making ends meet, he would not be hearing something that he does not already know. He chooses to ignore that, and pursue his own ambitions.
Your son believes he is deserving of the money your father left him and, under the law, he is 100% entitled to it. I don’t know why your father would leave his entire estate to his grandson, given that you took care of him. Perhaps he believed your son would take care of you in your old age. I won’t tell you to approach your son about the sale of the house — and I won’t tell you not to do so.
I will say that repeating the same strategy as before would be folly. If you ask your son for a share of the proceeds of the house, it will likely trigger the same reaction he had before. He feels entitled to your father’s estate and we know that any suggestion to the contrary has not thus far elicited a positive reaction. You could gently mention that you have trouble making ends meet.
The statute of limitations on contesting your father’s will has likely passed. Whatever you decide to do, tread carefully. If your son believes that you treat him as a financial resource, he could pull away. Perhaps it’s guilt, a lack of thoughtfulness or generosity, or other issues that go back to childhood. We don’t know the answer to those questions. We do know what his previous response has been.
Unfortunately, that’s probably a pretty good indicator of any future behavior.
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