Don’t Let Sibling Rivalry Affect Caring for Aging Parents

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By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC® Private Wealth Advisor

As the parents of baby boomers age, helping to care for them can become a source of financial and emotional stress among families, especially between siblings. In most families, siblings have different financial situations, personalities and perspectives, which can make it a challenge to come to an agreement about caregiving.

Research from a 2012 study, Money Across Generations IISM , commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, shows that 36 percent of boomer-age respondents say that proximity to their parents is the biggest factor in determining which sibling will be the primary source of family support. Only 13 percent agree it’s the sibling with the most financial means, and a mere three percent believe that all siblings should share the responsibilities.

These tips can help you and your siblings manage your parents’ finances and caregiving needs:

Be aware of and respect your siblings’ situations. Siblings may live in a different state or have family obligations or professions keeping them from being

available to help care for aging parents. Talk to them about what each can do in respect to time and money.

Recognize differences in money habits and priorities. Consider money management styles when you’re choosing who will be best to help.

Move on from past stereotypes.  Although everyone excels at different things, relying on childhood roles (such as the dreamer, the bossy one or the perfect student) may only create more problems. Give your siblings the benefit of the doubt and ask the same of them when deciding who will do what to help your parents.

-Communicate early and often. Set aside time to talk with your siblings in a structured setting about matters that may impact everyone. If these kinds of conversations typically lead to tension, draft a meeting agenda to ensure everyone gets a chance to provide input.

Your parents need your support most during this time in their lives. Consider working with a financial advisor who can help you work through these scenarios and steer you in the right direction financially.

Bennett Whitlock, CRPC®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at  or call 703-492-7732.


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