The deal with my inheritance

If you’re reading this page, you’re probably here from the CPF article that talks about CPF nomination. I figured some of you would like to find out a little more about my background, so here’s a short write up about that.

A summary: 

  • My dad intends to spend his cash savings on himself and my mom.
  • I’ll probably have my own home by the time he passes away. My sister too. So we’ll probably sell that as well. Split by 2.
  • He intends to pass down his CPF monies to my sister and I as well. Once again, split by 2.

My family’s background

For better or for worse, arguments about money were a big part of growing up. My parents came from humble backgrounds, and they took many calculated risks that sometimes led to lots of financial stress.

They were strict on how we handled money, and my dad even went as far to say once that I’d inherit nothing and insisted my elder sister and I pay ‘market-rate’ rent when we started working.

Being a brash 20-something, I moved out as soon as I could and strived towards being financial independent. My relationship with my dad has improved since, but we never spoke about money again.

In 2014, my mom suffered from a devastating stroke that left her mentally incapacitated. And recently, my dad started smoking again as he ‘is already old and just wanted to enjoy life.’

With both of them approaching their 70s, I thought it was about time I spoke to my dad about his legacy. 

In case you’re wondering how the talk went:

Interestingly, the hardest part was getting the convo started. I had feared he would lash out at me and say I was after inheritance and/or demanded that I ‘pay him back’ now that I was a lot more financial secure.

The actual convo went something like this:

Me: Have you thought of what are you going to do when you die? Like CPF, cash, all these.

Dad: Of course, I’ve planned it long ago. Whatever cash I have now, I intend to spend it all on myself and looking after [your] mom. We have worked hard and your mom deserves to enjoy whatever she has of life.

Me: That’s nice…

Dad: YAR, Ya’ll younger generation cannot always depend on the older gen to keep you afloat. You must run on your own steam.

Me: Yeah. Okay (looking to end the convo as I was sensing it was going to a millennial bashing place.)

Dad: BUT, what I can give you and Jie is our CPF money. It will be put in your CPF account, so you just let it gather interest until you are an old man. 50/50. 

(PS, my dad is wrong, it won’t go into my CPF account. I’ll receive it in cash, either cheque or GIRO.) 


How I prepared for the convo

Pick a time and place with as little distractions as possible.  I chose to have the conversation with my dad when we were on a father-son road trip together in Tasmania. Out in the wilderness, there’re fewer distractions plus it is harder to change topic. (You don’t need to go to Tasmania, East Coast Park will suffice)

Share with them your financial situation.  Let’s acknowledge confronting one’s mortality isn’t always easy and the information can be pretty sensitive. Sometimes, to get privileged info, you have to give privileged info.

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always been very secretive with my finances with my parents because I’m always worried sharing would make them ask to give them more allowance.

Speaking frankly about my finances also allowed me to make them realise where I was coming from –  I made it clear that I wasn’t going after inheritance, but was merely making sure their CPF was split in the way they wanted to.

Ask them about your grandparents In an earlier convo.  When my granddad passed away, he left without a will and this made the inheritance very messy.  Giving my dad to reflect upon that helped him realise where I was coming from.

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