Some could be waiting an age for their elderly parents' assets

Long life comes with a cost: picture all the geriatric parents whose healthcare-boosted resilience means their children end up awaiting their inheritance indefinitely.

Long life comes with a cost: picture all the geriatric parents whose healthcare-boosted resilience means their children end up awaiting their inheritance indefinitely.

Financial planner Peter Blatt has several clients hoping to net big bequests soon. "Probably 10 per cent of my clients first come to my office and say, 'Here is a list of my assets - and oh, by the way, here is my $300,000 that I will inherit from my parents'," Blatt says.

The rub is that, despite being in their 80s, many of those parents remain fit and strong - they might even outlive their children who have clocked up five decades. Blatt tells his clients they cannot count on a prospective bequest as an asset - a hard fact to accept.

Disgruntlement about bequests postponed indefinitely must be increasingly common because, while our grandparents typically died in their 60s or 70s, Australian men now die at, on average, 80 while women hang on, on average, until 84. The nation has the world's third-longest life expectancy, which looks set to soar. Somewhere, the first person set to reach 150 is already alive - and soon we will live to a thousand, according to rejuvenation guru Aubrey De Grey.

Boomers now must face the strain of ageing parents slowly counting down the clock in costly care homes. According to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures, the average "completed length of stay" for permanent residents is about 146 weeks. That is nudging three years.

According to one seniors information resource, the cost of residential aged care varies between about $35,000 and $66,000 a year. The government usually covers about two-thirds of the cost - how much you pay depends on your level of assessable income, as gauged by the government welfare advice hub Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs, which assists people from a military background.

Would-be heirs who contribute to care must be feeling the strain as pooled funds shrink. But the beneficiaries-to-be cannot very well ask their parents to hurry up and die. Even just waiting and hoping to inherit a bundle is suspect because that strategy smacks of profiting from death. Worse, as personal-finance blog Living Stingy notes, the passive approach squashes ambition - if the adult children ever had any.

Financial analyst David Bakke says that, increasingly, parents are raising spoiled, entitled children who never grow up. The eternal brats refuse to grasp that to achieve success, they must go out and make their own money, he says.

His message is simple. "What children should be doing is to stop worrying about the inheritance and work on building up their own portfolios."

Likewise, Blatt champions fiscal discipline anchored in the "emotional understanding" that your parents can allot any assets they retain as they choose.

So stop assuming you will inherit a fortune that bankrolls your golden years. That tantalising payout might never happen or be paltry after nursing fees have eroded it.

So plan for retirement by setting a long-term budget, Blatt says. Then, he adds, stick to it.

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