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Dad is Giving Away Money


"My father is 85 years old and fairly capable.  He has recently been donating money to any group that solicits from him.  While he has not donated large sums of money, I am concerned that he may be taken advantage of.  I believe he has enough money to care for himself for the rest of his life, and I would hate to see his security jeopardized. I am wondering if I should say anything to him or ask what his plans for asset management are as he ages.  I do not wish to offend him or create any sort of rift, but I am concerned."


Money management is a touchy subject in general for most Americans.  Most of us do not discuss our income or assets with family, and we certainly do not enjoy being told how to spend our money. It is very likely that your father falls into this category.

If your father is giving away nominal amounts of money, do not be concerned.     If he has, as you say, enough money to care for himself for the rest of his life, he likely has a considerable sum accumulated. Small amounts, $25 here and there, are not going to be missed and may be filling a philanthropic desire he has.

If you have demonstrated yourself to be a good money manager and an ethical child, you may be an individual who can bring up the subject of asset management for your father as he ages.  That means that you live independently, pay your bills, have a decent job, and have demonstrated good money sense.  If this is true, your father will be proud of you and more likely to trust your advice regarding his money.

If you are a child that has trouble managing money, credit card debt, and are frequently asking for money, you are not going to have much credibility with your father.  You can bring up his recent behavior, but do not expect a positive response to the topic. 

Of course, inheritance is a frequent concern for children. It would be nice to know what his thoughts are surrounding the topic, though what remains will be dependent on what his future care needs are. The cost of care in his final years is unpredictable, so it is best for children to prepare to fund their own retirement to be safe.

Now if you feel he is being taken advantage of due to declining mental capacity, it is time to act.  A person he trusts, be it you, a sibling, his lawyer, accountant, or financial adviser, needs to intercede if you believe that your father is no longer capable of making decisions. You can start by visiting his physician with him, followed by setting up a plan with family members and his advisers. These conversations are never easy but become necessary for most adults at some point in their lives.  Approach the situation as though you were the elderly parent, treating your father as you would like a son to treat you. Consider his needs for the future while loving and respecting him. I wish you the best.

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