Do not transfer your estate to beneficiaries while still alive. File a will instead

As you grow older, you may think about dividing assets to your adult children or designated beneficiaries while you are still alive. My sincere advice is, instead of dividing the assets and money, write a will with a reputable trust company and have them execute the will only upon your passing away.

Reason being, I have seen a number of cases whereby the adult children change and even abandon their aged parent once the transfers have been complete. Usually by that time only one parent is alone as the spouse had passed which leave the parent alone and vulnerable should health problem sets in.

Spare the possible heartache

Our current family home is under our mom’s name. Years ago, our family did sit down and had a discussion. It was mutually agreed that the transfer of house ownership would only take place after my mom’s passing. She had a will made to detail her wishes.

Yes, that would mean that we would need to pay more for lawyer and hassle for executing the will. Yes, the trust company would benefit a certain percentage.

However, it would ensure there is no conflict and that whatever happens, my mom would never been driven out of her own house. The house belongs to her as it was paid with sweat and tears.

Both my brother and me agree that it is safer to maintain it this way as who knows if one of us may change…. for the worse in future.

Few years ago, our decision was ridiculed by someone who said that we should get the name changed while my mom is still alive than to go through the hassle once she is gone. Our justification was being poofed by her.

This lady, a widow said that as parents, one should not burden our kids when we are gone. As parent, asset and inheritance should be given to kids to prevent any disputes later.

Then over recent years, the health of this lady slowly declined that so much so she could no longer stay on her own. Her house deed and most of her money have been divided between her 4 children. The division itself was not equal, with the male child getting the bulk while the female children got less.

Her grown children, each leading busy lives, had a lot of ‘excuses’ not to be able to see her. MCO, car cannot carry so many people, blah blah. When in actual fact, any of her children can come in separate cars with their spouse, each with one children so that they could come and visit.

This was precisely what I have seen in a case of one of my mother’s good friend who is single. She stayed alone in her house and her nephew often is worried sick of her. But this lady prefers independence and do not like to stay with anyone. The nephew made it a point to come to her house each Saturday to visit her and take her out for dinner. During the MCO where there was a limitation of not more than 2 persons were allowed in a car, the nephew and his wife decided to drive separate cars so that they each could take a child along (the nephew has 2 children) just so they could visit her.  This shows that if there’s a will, there is a way.

And sadly, the adult children or available relatives each tried to pass the buck over to the other especially once asset and money are all divided. Back to the story of this lady, the son who got the highest share of inheritance actually tried to bully his sister to take in the mother. The sister could not because she had too much of financial commitments, is already married and have her own family and could not afford to keep her job.

In the end, because no one was willing to take her in, they decided to put her in nursing home. If the lady still had money with her, she could have just arrange to hire a live in maid or caregiver. Or pick and choose her preferred nursing home. Maybe her son may be the one who would be caring for her now. Now that her money are with her children, she was at their mercy.

Another sad story

Years ago when my mom was still working, there was an elderly lady who was admitted to hospital. Due to the first class wad was full, she was placed in the third class ward, which is a shared space with patients. Her adult children came in and make a huge fuss about why their mother was put in such a bad condition. Each day she got a lot of flowers and hampers, with her grown children and grandchildren coming to visit her.

Eventually a bed was available in the first class and the lady was transferred there.

Not long later, my mom came to work one day (she worked in the 3rd class busy ward) and was surprised to see the old lady back in the 3rd class ward. My mom was later told that it seemed this lady was a wife of a very rich man who left a lot of money for her when he passed.

The children were trying to get her to sign over the title and assets to them. Once they succeeded, they did not bother about her. And was not willing to even pay the small fee in differential of the first class ward.

There was no one who came to visit her after that.

The lady passed away not long after. She was quiet and looked sad when her family stopped coming.

The selfless love of our parents

Usually parents would love their kids, even though they know the bad traits of their kids. But if the kids neglect or it seemed obvious that they sit right at the bottom of their kids’ list of priorities, the sadness would pierce and break their hearts into a million pieces.

When I reflect on this, sometimes it is best not to find out the hard way.

Yet many would love their kids too much to want to make demands or ‘inconvenience them’. In my neighborhood we had a few old people who stayed by themselves as their kids were overseas. They often looked lonely and sad whenever I see them around. And with time, it is obvious that their health is declining, their steps are getting slower and they have gone weaker. Sometimes the children realize that the kind of love of their parents are unmatched in anyone they would ever meet, even of their spouse. By then, their aged parent may be long gone.

My mom had shared with me real stories where an aged parent were being abandoned by their children in the hospital.  But then, there are also filial children and relatives who came to visit their parents or an elderly relative regularly. Children who have gratitude for the sacrifices their parents made and saw to it that their parents are well taken care off in their old age.

Keep the money while alive because you have earned it. Yes, it is true we cannot take our material possessions with us after we die. But while we are alive, we still need money and a roof over our head. And then after we are gone, other people can have it.

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