Inheritance impatience, a term gaining traction in today’s aging society, sheds light on a growing trend that carries significant consequences. As our life expectancies increase, so does the wait for the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next.

Adult children may not receive an inheritance until they themselves are retired and so we need to start to think differently. Whether that’s elderly parents not waiting till death to pass on some of their wealth if possible, as for example if downsizing, maybe they can help their adult children in some way at that time if any spare. But on the flip side, our elderly parents have worked hard and deserve to have the best retirement possible.

Why do we have Inheritance Impatience:

With people living longer, the traditional timeline for wealth transfer has undergone a noticeable shift. The expectation of receiving an inheritance is now stretched over an additional ten to twenty years, a delay that is causing a ripple effect in family dynamics. Adult children, accustomed to receiving help when say mortgage or financial expenses with children are at its highest in middle age, may find themselves grappling with the prolonged wait for the financial legacy they anticipate till after they may retire potentially.  It is an effect of the Sandwich Generation, as great that our parents are living longer and can spend more time with them but for some this delay in waiting for their inheritance is causing stress and grief.

The Link to Elder Abuse:

The NSW Ageing and Disability Commission’s recent data reveals a disturbing correlation between inheritance impatience and elder abuse. As individuals aged 75 and above increase in number, so does the incidence of abuse, fuelled by financial strains, especially among single women. Psychological abuse claims have surged, making up the majority of cases, but there’s also a concerning number of complaints related to financial exploitation, misused power of attorney, and theft.

The Need for Funding:

There is also a real pressing need for increased funding in elder abuse services. The NSW Ageing and Disability Commission has seen a 12% rise in calls, indicating a demand that is quickly outpacing available resources. The situation echoes past societal challenges like child protection and domestic violence, and experts in this area are urging policymakers to act to ensure better resources now, as it is ridiculous that Victoria’s elder abuse hotline has only one staff member!

Inheritance impatience is more than just a term or catchy title, as it’s a major societal shift that demands our attention and action. This is also something far more important than just leaving to the Government to fix, as all families need to get better at communicating between generations and to help each other. As families navigate the complexities of delayed wealth transfer, it is crucial to address the underlying issues contributing to elder abuse. A sign of a great society is where the golden years are marked by respect, care, and dignity. These should be your parent’s best years as they have worked hard to get to retirement and should be supported by their children as best they can.


Article by Marc Bineham – Money coach, speaker and award-winning author of The Money Sandwich