As a mother of two teenagers, I ran into the age-old conversation parents often share with their children: “When we die, can you promise us that you will carry out this responsibility for us?”
Except these parents told their daughter (we’ll call her Jane) when she was very young and repeatedly told her that If anything happened to them, she would be her sister’s guardian. Her disabled sister is 33 and in a group home. Jane is now 23 years old and has two older brothers who are married and in established careers. Jane has a job she can do from anywhere and wants to travel.
Jane visited her parents, and again they reminded her she would be the guardian. Her parents are healthy but have had recent scares.
Jane decided to propose three ideas for her parents:
The three siblings serve as guardians and split the responsibilities and duties.
Their parents leave the entire estate to their sister in a trust that will oversee her care.
Leave the estate with the proviso that Jane becomes her sole guardian and takes full responsibility.
Jane offered another option, telling her parents they could completely cut her out of their will and remove the sister’s guardianship as her responsibility. That upset her parents, and her brothers called Jane to say she was being greedy, trying to keep them from getting any money from the parents after they passed.
She countered by offering them 100% responsibility for their sister in return for the entire estate, but neither took her up on the offer.
Here is how the internet responded to Jane’s situation.
Are The Parents Sexist?
One Redditor wrote, “Unfortunately, your parents are sexist.” Many agreed that her parents probably determined that Jane was better suited for her sister’s guardianship as a woman without considering her older brothers should share responsibilities. Many suggested she shouldn’t rely on the first option because her brothers have no intention of helping her. One elaborated that she should not let her family guilt her into getting their way.
At A Young Age, She Was Told To Be Sole Guardian
Someone pointed out that Jane was a minor when they told her she would be her sister’s guardian. Now, at age 23, she realizes the enormity of caring for her disabled sister and has more maturity than anyone in her family. Instead, several wondered why the parents weren’t discussing the guardianship with the entire family and asking for their thoughts rather than “dumping it on the youngest.”
Consult With A Lawyer
There was a strong consensus in the thread that Jane should say no and refuse any documentation of being her sister’s guardian with the substantial responsibility it brings. Alternatively, several suggested that Jane and her family should get a lawyer involved to discuss options for the sister, including the creation of the trust, review of existing medical care directives, insurance, and financial decisions that an appointed guardian can handle as a backup plan.
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Several people pointed out that Jane’s parents and brothers assumed she would only be her sister’s caregiver without considering her youth and the potential for burnout before becoming financially independent. Some suggested she stand her ground that if she doesn’t get the entire estate, she should decline any responsibility as she may not have enough resources for her sister. Others agreed that Jane should seek help or “move to another country soon.”
What do you think? Does this Reddit story sound familiar? I was grateful to see that nobody agreed with her parents or brothers. It’s an internet story that honestly united everyone, a rare occurrence.
This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The Cents of Money.
With a passion for investing and personal finance, I began The Cents of Money to help and teach others. My experience as an equity analyst, professor, and mom provide me with unique insights about money and wealth creation and a desire to share with you.