Man Doesn't Tell Wife He Gave Up His Inheritance To Cover His Mom's Nursing Home Expenses

He didn't have a choice, but his wife was furious that he wasn't upfront about it.

angry couple and nursing home room byryo / Getty Images | TITOVA ILONA / ilonakozhevnikova | Canva Pro

The financial implications of dealing with an elderly parent can be downright crippling to their family members, and the story of one man on Reddit is a perfect example of how our country's inadequate social safety net for senior citizens can play out for their loved ones.

But what he's had to do to take care of his ailing, elderly mother has impacted far more than just his wallet. Ensuring his mom's health and safety has put his marriage on the rocks.


The man gave up his inheritance to pay for his mom's nursing home.

Nursing homes, assisted living, and other forms of long-term care for the elderly are staggeringly expensive.

A nursing home costs $7,908 a month or $260 a day — and that's just the average. In some states, costs are even higher, as are the average costs for a private room: $9034 a month.

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Long-term care costs like nursing homes are not covered by traditional health insurance or Medicare. Those only cover short-term stays in nursing facilities. And while Medicaid does cover nursing homes, the income requirements to qualify can be difficult to meet for all but the indigent.

So what are people to do? Well, many end up in the exact position this Redditor did. "My mother has been battling dementia for around 12 years, and around four years ago, she needed more care than what myself and my siblings could reasonably provide," he wrote in his post.

His parents weren't wealthy but worked hard to "leave a legacy" for their kids. But when it came time for him and his siblings to share the costs of his mom's nursing home care, his portion was untenable.


"I told my siblings to take my portion of the estate to cover the cost, which includes the money my parents earmarked for each grandchild," he wrote. "I knew it was not going to be enough, but it was the least I could do."

He did not tell his wife, and when his mother passed, and the will revealed there was no inheritance, she was furious.

He didn't tell his wife because she agreed with him at the time that his share of the costs, roughly $3000 a month, were unmanageable. But when his mother finally passed last year, the inevitable settling of the estate revealed the truth. 

"My wife was upset when we did not get a portion of the estate," he said. "I told her I told my siblings to use my portion to cover my side of the expenses."

She was "livid" when she found out, not only because of what she perceived as dishonesty but also because the inheritance was meant to be shared with their children. "She felt it was not my place" to deal with the money like he did.


"I told her I see where she is coming from, but I was not going to take money away from my parents or siblings if I was not helping in some shape or form," he wrote.

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People agreed that he did the right thing for his mother, but he should have let his wife know.

Some felt that his wife was out of line. "Until your mother died, it was her money even if it was earmarked for your inheritance," one commenter wrote, implying that his wife was laying claim to money she has no entitlement to.

Others felt that he should have shared the information with his wife, though. Experts agree that transparency, in general, is important in marriage, but financial transparency is particularly vital.


So-called "financial infidelity" can feel like just as much of a betrayal as regular infidelity, in fact, and it frequently leads to divorce.

Still, given the stakes in the matter, most couldn't help but side with him, and many felt his wife should have more grace.

"Yes, if it were me, I'd have told my spouse about it," one commenter wrote. "But, if I forgot due to dealing with the hundred things going on, including the estate (and grief), my husband wouldn't care."


The man added in his post that he doesn't really even know why he didn't tell his wife in the first place. Still, it's an understandable oversight given how distraught he must have been — especially since his mother's dementia began when he was just a child of 14 years old.

A loved one's decline in their elderly years is a specific form of drawn-out grief that, unlike a death, can go on with no end in sight and no closure for years and years.

In the end, both this man's grief-stricken oversight and his wife's distress about the money point to the fundamental lack of dignity in America's absurdly inadequate social systems.


No one who pays taxes their whole life in the richest country in the world should have to deal with all of this grief and financial panic just to give their ailing mother a modicum of dignity at the end of her life.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.