Don’t Count On An Inheritance

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This summer, I visited Kamloops, BC and went on a hike with “Ben and Barbara”. We didn’t start out talking about personal finance, but when I bought a used copy of “Your Money or Your Life” at a local bookstore, we ended up in a deep conversation about cash, happy living, and planning for end-of-life care. It was the most enlightening conversation I’d had all year.

We were driving back to their place from Salmon Arm when I started talking about my retirement plan. Foolishly, I expected a small inheritance from my family someday. After all, we had a townhome in the family I estimated to be worth $450,000. My brother might decide to start a family there, but I reasoned I could at least rent out the basement to a student for $800/month. My brother and his family could take the top two floors and live just fine. Obviously, I wouldn’t move in because I don’t have rent in Richmond anyway, so I’d just hang out at my current place and pocket the rent. Easy peasy. We drove on, and I took in the scenery. Then, she dropped the bomb.

“Have you considered end-of-life care for your mother?” Barbara asked.

“No,” I admitted.

“Well, you should. End-of-life care can get expensive, especially when it comes to memory care. There may be money in your family, but it’s your mother’s money first. You may need to liquidate the home to pay for that. Don’t count on an inheritance.”

Her words hit me like a freight train. She was right. It was only days ago I was talking with a coworker about HER mother’s end-of-life care. We were considering using Nurse Next Door, so I’d researched the cost. Estimates were between $550/month for basic care to $4,000/month for “vital care”. Senior housing was even worse, with assisted living in BC at an average of $2,747/month, and memory care at $5,720/month! If your mom has Alzheimer’s, expect to pay $68,640/year while she’s living in a home. My family’s $450,000 townhome suddenly becomes 6.5 years of memory care in a retirement facility! Well… fuck.

Listen, I know you care about your parents. I do too. I’m not writing this to scare you, but I want to prepare you for the reality of end-of-life care. If you thought you were getting an inheritance, you probably aren’t. Your parents’ money is theirs first. Instead, prepare for your own financial future by investing appropriately, and not spending all your money buying shiny shit. The wealth your parents built up is for them to use, not you. Also, did you know average life expectancy in Canada is now 80-84? Let’s not mince words: If you were counting on an inheritance and you’re not already ridiculously rich, YOU’RE FUCKED. Start saving. Prepare, not just for your future, but also your parents’. Invest wisely, and maybe you’ll come out okay. You have been warned.

Sorry to ruin your day. Here’s a picture of a cute cat.

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