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Ask Dave

Helping With The Parents

How, and how much, should Randy ask his sister to help out with their parents, who had to file bankruptcy?

QUESTION: Randy’s parents are on a fixed income. They got in a big financial mess and have a $2,200 monthly income. They had to give up their house and file bankruptcy. Randy put them in an apartment and wants to help them, but he has his own debts and wants his sister to help out. Should he lean on her to do that? Dave has a better idea.

ANSWER: I think what you can do is gauge her interest and willingness to help. You can’t make someone else behave; all you can do is choose what you are going to do. You can’t make someone do right by their parents. She may be broke or have hurt feelings from them.

I would work up a monthly budget on them, just something that’s one page and shows them what this is, and email it to her husband and her. Tell her that, based on this, it looks like as long as Mom and Dad are living, it looks like we need to chip in some money each month, and you want to gauge her interest in doing that. Tell her you are hardly able to do it but are willing to do it at such a level, but you want to know if she is willing to work together in the care of your parents. Make sure not to shake your finger at her and tell her what her obligation is, because that will get pushed back really quick.