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What Parents and KidsNeed to Know


Navigating difficult and controversial financial issues with your children can be a tough talk. Here’s some expert advice on how to deal with sensitive topics by Lisa van de Geyn illustration by Seth


HE LAST TIME Robin spoke to her mother was in May 2011. She had moved her husband, two tod- dlers and two cats from the Prairies to eastern Ontario to help her aging mother run the family farm. “It was a big risk; I quit my job, we sold our


home,” she says. “We made a verbal agreement that my husband and I would assume the property taxes, utility and maintenance costs for running the acreage we lived on in exchange for my mother transferring the property title — we were living on one of three properties she owns.” That arrange- ment started out all right, but it wasn’t long before things went south. “We’d make property improvements that she heavily criticized; then there were remarks about my parenting and marriage. After enduring 10 months of this and repeated attempts to work things out, I was told that I could stay in my home for free and inherit her assets if I left my husband. Or I’d have to leave the farm and get nothing.” So Robin, now 40, packed up her brood and leſt. As far as she knows, when her mother eventually — pardon the pun —


38 | CPA MAGAZINE | JANUARY 2018


buys the farm, she won’t get her piece of 100 acres of land (valued at about $650,000 in 2011), a $500,000 life insurance policy and about $500,000 in cash and investments. Robin’s disinheritance is a perfect example of the conten-


tious issues parents and their adult children can face when it comes to the topic of cold, hard cash. We asked the experts about some of the most uncomfortable, potentially embarrass- ing and — according to what we found — common financial questions folks have. Read on for advice about situations you’re likely either thinking about or perhaps even living through.


Question: Should I disinherit my estranged child?


Answer:Well, we know what Robin’s mother did. While you can legally disinherit a child, be prepared to create anger and resentment — not only toward you and your spouse, but toward your other children too. If you go this route, under certain acts, depending on your province or territory (for example, in Nova Scotia it’s called the


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