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{ in·deed·a·bly }

adverb: to competently express interest, surprise, disbelief, or contempt

Inheritance

Explosion.

A word that conjures the mental image of a cartoonish ka-boom. A volcanic eruption. High schoolers losing eyebrows to a science experiment gone awry.

The reality can be less dramatic. Much scarier.

Incoming!

It began with an everyday scene. Sitting with the boys at the breakfast. Shovelling Cheerios on autopilot. Them watching television on iPads. Me panning for gold on Sovereign Quest.

My elder son paused his anime to ask “what do you think life inside the singularity would be like?

Without thinking, I responded “like the comments section on Reddit”.

He tensed up. Opened his mouth to object. Thought it through. Visibly deflated. Returned to his show.

The birds outside fell silent.

A rumbling vibration in the distance. Getting closer.

Ripples appeared on the surface of my orange juice. The aquarium fish vanished out of sight.

Objects toppled. Furniture moved. Doors slammed.

The lazy cat transformed in the blink of an eye. Sound asleep one moment. A blur of motion the next. Breaking the land speed record as she bolted outside into the freezing rain.

Younger son grabbed his iPad. Dived for the bathroom. Lights off, to avoid triggering the exhaust fan.

Elder son sat with his back to the door. Headphones in. Eyes glued to his screen. Oblivious.

I thought about warning him. But he hadn’t done his chores. Again. Devil take the hindmost!

Fight or flight instincts kicking in. I dashed across the kitchen, hoping to circle the incoming danger.

Momentum can be a terrible thing. Socks sliding across the hardwood floor. Arms windmilling. I almost crashed into my lady wife as she stomped down the stairs.

Wild-eyed.

Veins bulging.

Death stare turned up to 11.

Oh bollocks” muttered my inner saboteur forlornly. For once I agreed with him. Oh bollocks indeed.

In a spectacular failure to read the signs, the lockdown kitten appeared at that moment to  commence his “I’m so cute, feed me!” routine, rubbing a figure-eight pattern around my lady wife’s legs. I almost felt sorry for him. For a supposed apex predator, the lockdown kitten has poorly developed survival skills.

Reminiscent of the final scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I resignedly took a deep breath and asked the question that all long-married husbands come to dread: “are you ok?

With a primal force normally reserved for extinction-level asteroid strikes, my lady wife vented her spleen.

The volume and vehemence of her rant caused seismologists on the other side of the planet to take one look at their Richter scales then seek out a change of underwear.

Being on the receiving end felt like I had stuck my head in a blast furnace. Less fun than a retrospective tax change. Odds of survival worse than bungee jumping naked into a woodchipper.

My lady wife had just been talking to her mother, who revealed she was considering making some changes to her legal will. Instead of leaving her estate to her children, who already appeared successful and financially secure, she planned to leave everything to her tribe of school-aged grandchildren.

The money might one day help them with house deposits. University fees. Weddings.

Which to me sounded like a noble goal. Sensible even. Not that I would give voice to such thoughts, certainly not without a helmet and a running start.

What my lady wife had heard was the existentialist threat of being disinherited. Judged unworthy. Plummeting down the leaderboard of her mother’s affections, to rank below her own children.

Inheritance

Our diametrically opposing instinctive reactions to the exact same piece of news were fascinating.

They raised some interesting questions about the concept of inheritance.

A potential windfall gain. Rarely sought. Seldom earned.

Giving rise to a cascade of emotions. Entitlement. Expectation. Fairness. Guilt. Heartbreak. Jealousy. Loneliness. Loss. Resentment.

Dishearteningly often bringing out the worst in people.

Stories are legion of relatives going to war over a loved one’s legacy.

Looting the estate of valuables, before the spoils could be accounted for and distributed.

Lawyers at dawn to contest the legal will. Epic courtroom battles, incurring legal fees that often result in mutually assured destruction or a pyrrhic victory at best.

My view is that a person should be free to do whatever they like with their own estate. Nobody’s business but their own. If they wish to leave it all to their grandkids, pets, or favourite causes then so be it. As a wise old Polish colleague was fond of saying: “not my circus, not my monkey”.

Things get a little complicated in cases where dementia is involved, but that is what power of attorney is for. If a guardian can’t be trusted to do the right thing, they shouldn’t have the job. That said, it has been my life experience that people are savages, particularly when money is involved.

Human nature being what it is, there is often a disconnect between what a beneficiary receives and what they believe they deserve or were entitled to.

I wondered about that sense of entitlement. Do our parents really owe us anything at all?

For good or ill, there is no question that our existence is a consequence of their choices. A deed that once done, can’t be undone. Legally responsible for raising us to adulthood, or until the state decides they are unfit to do so.

Some kids win the ovarian lottery. Others fail to choose their parents very well at all.

Then, one fateful day, we come of age. Adults in our own right. Warranty expired, no refunds. The equal of our parents in the eyes of the law. No better. No worse.

Able to breed. Decide. Fight. Marry. Screw. Study. Travel. Vote. Work. However, whenever, and with whomever we choose for ourselves.

The age that we acquire each of these rights may vary, but as adults we become accountable and responsible for our own choices. Regardless of any excuses that we may choose to hide behind.

Which brings us back to the concept of inheritance. Once we are legal adults, do our parents really owe us anything? Their job is done. Their responsibilities concluded.

Our parents may choose to continue helping us. Supporting us. Provide for us in their will.

But they are under no legal obligation to do so. Morally? Ethically? A question best left to the audience.

Their money is their own. To save, spend, or squander as they see fit.

We may enjoy that support, but should recognise it for what it is. A gift. Not an entitlement. Nor a right.

In the days before COVID, there was a recurring joke amongst my elderly mother’s social circle about going on SKI holidays, which was short for Spending the Kids’ Inheritance. Cruise ships and caravanning odysseys were favoured options, as both catered to old folks with limited mobility.

Over the years I have worked with many people who got royally bent out of shape when their parents “squandered” money on new cars or luxury vacations. Their gripe was that in doing so, the size of the prize they stood to inherit once their parents jet-set no more was reduced.

Several people I know moved home “because our parents are not getting any younger”. A noble sentiment from those who would be assisting their ageing loved one in failing health. Less so for the mercenary few who were simply staking their claim on a future inheritance.

Yet how many of those same people would happily squander the financial life’s work of their parents?

Blow it on a new car? A kitchen renovation? A SKI holiday of their own?

I suspect the answer is more than a few.

However, by that point, the dead are beyond caring. The beneficiaries are free to do as they please, with what is now their money. Hypocrisy swiftly forgotten in the pursuit of status and shiny new toys.

My father would often joke that we should be nice to him or he’d write us out of his will. We would respond that he should be nice to us, because we would be choosing his nursing home!

At least we had thought he was joking. As ever, he got the last word.

Windfall

Eventually, the tempest blew itself out. My lady wife stomped back upstairs to her eyrie.

I returned to the kitchen, where my elder son was still seated at the breakfast table. Headphones on. Immersed in his cartoons. Seemingly oblivious to the familial discord going on around him.

The lockdown kitten sheepishly emerged from cowering in the laundry basket. The clean sheets I had washed earlier were now decorated with muddy paw prints and damp cat hair. Bastard!

As I was launching into an animated combination of sign language, swear words, and visual aids to explain the error of the lockdown kitten’s ways, my elder son quietly piped up.

She had already spent it, hadn’t she? From a mental accounting perspective? That is the real reason why she was upset

It was my turn to tense up. Open my mouth to object. Think it through. Visibly deflate. Then just nod.

His observation was astute and incisive. Not much got past him. The boy was growing up.

My son looked conflicted.

Curious about a potential windfall that until moments ago was a possibility he had never considered.

Disquieted by the notion of a loved one dying.

Desperate to avoid conflict with his mother. An outcome that is rarely forgiven and never forgotten.

I told him not to worry. My mother-in-law was likely to live longer than all of us, if for no other reason than to spite any vultures who may be circling her estate.

Then I cautioned him not to fall into the same trap he had just observed.

His grandmother was far from rich. Even if she followed through with her plan, the estate would be split amongst the whole tribe of grandkids.

Any potential inheritance was nothing more than a figment of the imagination, until such time that it was physically received. At which point it becomes an unexpected windfall. A kind final gift from someone who loved him. Something to be respected, not frittered away on baubles and trophies.

He nodded his head, needing some time to process and think through the morning’s discussion.

Then his face lit up in a mischievous grin. “At least I don’t have to worry about you leaving your money to the cats!

I followed his gaze to where the lockdown kitten contentedly sat chewing on my phone charger cable. Bastard!


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34 Comments

  1. FullTimeFinance 22 February 2021

    Can’t help but laugh about the cat…

    In any case I’ve lived my life as if there will be no inheritance for me. Not the least of which I suspect most of the money from my parents will be gone when the time comes… but the conversations around it have been way more interesting.

    One relative is positively obsessed with treating one part of her money as something I’ll one day inherit. Another relation is concerned about what their relatives might think about them spending their inheritance (which I think is a factor of reading too many financial magazines).

    For me I don’t need the inheritances I might one day receive, they would not be significant, and there would be less taxation if it skips a generation. So I’m not overly concerned about it, except that as poa of another relative I try to tightrope walk around this subject to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest .

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 22 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks FullTimeFinance. Traversing that conflict of interest tightrope sounds like challenge indeed, I wish you luck with it.

      You raise a great point regarding inheritance, with average life expectancies where they are, many folks won’t receive an inheritance until later in life (if at all). By that stage they may already own their own home and their children have already flown the nest. Working on the assumption that it probably won’t exist is the safest course of action.

      The lockdown kitten is a menace, but still cute enough to get away with being naughty for now.

  2. Q-FI 22 February 2021

    I’m going to stop commenting that the writing is top notch because I keep saying the same thing. I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote from now on. I particularly enjoyed, “Odds of survival worse than bungee jumping naked into a woodchipper.” Well said.

    This a great topic and one I have on my own list to eventually write about. I’m pretty much of the exact same view as you on inheritance – it’s the parents money and they should do with it whatever they want. Period. They earned it, they deserve to enjoy it.

    Regarding the topic of inheritance itself, I have never seen people act more savage, ruthless and entitled. It’s fascinating on one hand, but almost despicable and depressing on another.

    In my own family, I am one of three kids and we are all close. I’m almost 99% sure that the two of us who are better off, would give the lesser one all of it if we even ever received any form of windfall, which most likely would be very small. (Even with unpredictable spouse whisperers involved. Haha.)

    However, on my wife’s side, there are four siblings and it is ugly. They are all envious, jealous and resentful of each other. Comments are already flying around that the parents are blowing their inheritance. The sense of entitlement infuriates me but I bite my lip.

    The way my wife and I work is we are each responsible for dealing with our own side of the family. If we want the others opinion, we can ask, but no matter how wrong we think the other is, we have to bite our lip and respect the choices they make with their side. I am dreading the day that my wife’s parents pass because I know how bad it’s going to be.

    I’ll end with, that was remarkably insightful comment by your son and so true. I hadn’t thought of it like that before but he is right. I was impressed.

    P.S. Glad to see the lockdown kitten is still up to its mischievous ways.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 22 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Q-FI. As my chief cheerleader you’re pretty good at pumping up my tires!

      Sounds like a cage match brewing amongst the in-laws. Good luck with that.

      A generation ago my family followed the playbook you described for your less affluent sibling. It worked well when the first parent died, on the understanding that when the second one eventually passed away the less affluent one would reciprocate. It was even written into the will. Predictably, when the time came the still less affluent one contested the will, egged on by their “spouse whisperer” (great phrase, hadn’t heard that one before). Things got ugly, wounds that would never heal.

      Such is life.

  3. Malcolm 22 February 2021

    Great conversation
    We told our kids early on that as we had paid heavily by design for their education and upbringing-they all got good degrees / good jobs etc- they were now not to count on any more money from us
    Seemed to work
    One child needed a little and that was it
    We also told them that it was our money now and if one of them fell on hard times we would help that particular child as required even though we loved them all equally and it might appear unfair
    They know what we have. (my wife and I are now 74) and that the inheritance such as it is-divides equally amongst the three of them-they are the executors of the estate
    However care-home fees if required can reach over £50000 pa per person here in the U.K. could reduce the inheritance very quickly
    It is important to keep talking about these matters and to keep your children in the loop
    xxd09

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks xxd09. Sounds like you’ve approached things in a logical way, I like the way you’ve clearly set expectations with your children. Hopefully when the time comes everyone plays nice and things go to plan.

  4. FI-FireFighter 23 February 2021

    I really enjoy your ‘lead in narrative’ I’m never quite sure where its going to take me, great post.
    A topical and contentious subject for me currently ref our elderly parents (on both sides 🙁 ), opinions and miss understandings abound, size of pot being the biggest one.
    As the couple closest to both sets geographically we are most in touch with them and aware of their situations.
    Our thoughts are – enjoy your selves, its your money. Not a wholly popular opinion.
    Ref LPA, a note of caution. Don’t leave it too late to put them in place.
    I did for my parents. The solicitor (rightly) has to check that the elderly parents involved fully understand the implications of the LPA before they will agree to implement the LPA.
    My dad has poor memory and gets confused, he isn’t quite yet at the Dementia diagnosis level ( 4 points off the doctor said). But it was enough for the solicitor to ‘rightly’ say they were concerned that he didn’t fully understand the implications of the LPA, so they were not happy to proceed.
    My dad has good days and bad days and I had spent multiple days going over the LPA with both my parents to check it was what they wanted so that I could help them, it was. But unfortunately it’s not going to happen.
    I can help them, but its limited and I wont be able to speak on their behalf with any authority.
    My advice – by the time you realise you need to help your parents, its probably too late to put in place the mechanism to help them fully i.e. an LPA.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks FI-FireFighter, glad you enjoyed it.

      That’s a great point about power of attorney. Living wills and DNR orders are another one to get in place ahead of time, as it gets hard to argue the toss when you’re in a coma or can no longer remember what you had for breakfast.

      My (limited) experience was the health care workers generally try to do the right thing, and are pretty good at working the system and guiding family when the time comes. The paperwork helps remove some friction, but the interpretation of the rules can be flexible enough to achieve the right outcome. Your mileage may vary.

      The financial aspect is a different story unfortunately. The protections exist to help prevent the old folks from getting fleeced, but that is a double edged sword in situations like you describe.

      There are some hard yards ahead while they recognise on their good days what they are losing on their bad ones. That passes with time, which makes it easier for them but attritional on those loved ones caring for them. Best of luck with it.

  5. Fire And Wide 23 February 2021

    Ha, I do love the way you tell a story. I’m with Q-FI on that, the mix of funny and thoughtful always has me hooked to the end.

    Inheritance seems such an emotive subject and often for all the ‘wrong’ reasons. I’m always amazed how fast some people seem to move on from missing the person and onto the finance side. Maybe it’s a deflection thing.

    Like most, I’ve heard of such crazy tales of behaviour it can get depressing about the general state of human nature. For my part, unsurprisingly, I’m in the same camp as you sounds like. Regularly encouraging my folks to go spend it on whatever they damn well feel like.

    We had a fun, if predictable, debate about the inheritance from my Nana’s passing last year. Me: I don’t feel like I deserve this, you guys pretty much gave up your lives to look after her as her health faded – please keep it. Parents: We knew you would say that, no, Nana wanted you to have it. All the other grandkids will have it. Take it. Me: Fine, but only if I can spend it on taking you away on a holiday. Nana would have wanted you to enjoy it. Parents: Big sigh. Fine, we knew you would say that too!

    So yeah, I really don’t get the entitlement sense. But then I remember to try not to judge – after all, I’m coming at this from a place of plenty. For some people an inheritance can seem their “only chance” of a way out. I don’t agree with it but I can understand the behaviour better.

    I loved your son’s comment. You must be proud of that. Though it did leave me curious – what do you think your wife had already mentally spent the money on?!? Sounds like an interesting conversation upcoming….

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Fire and Wide, you’re very kind.

      From what you describe, it sounds like your recent inheritance went exactly where it was supposed to. Hopefully the holiday put a smile on your parent’s face who had lost their own mother, while you all charged a glass and recounted funny stories about the life of your Nana.

      Your “only chance” observation is astute, though the same logic could be equally used to justify robbing a bank or dealing drugs to children. I’m from the school of “do whatever makes you happy, providing it doesn’t hurt anybody else“. When the scrap over inheritance starts to look like the Boxing Day sales at Primark then something has gone awry.

      what do you think your wife had already mentally spent the money on?!?

      Divorce lawyers maybe? Honestly, I have no idea. Under our dysfunctional financial “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement it isn’t any of my business.

  6. Edd 23 February 2021

    I’ve had the same situation: all of my grandparents generation on my mum’s side agreed to skip a generation with their inheritance back when they were all in their 30s because the generation above them had a cataclysmic relationships-ending fallout when inheritance time came around… As it happens, that’s not really come into effect yet as both of those that have died did so before grandchildren existed and the remainder are happily going strong into their 90s, so all of the “house purchases and university fees” that they were intended for have already been done!

    But nonetheless, the existing pact is lovely, especially with the fact that one of the great-uncles is having major memory issues with dementia and so is bringing up the agreement every time he sees a sibling in a “so proud of all of us, so glad we’re not like our parents” kind of way, so everyone gets little bursts of affection and joy every time you see him being proud of the whole family for it.

    P.S. You probably wanted “Pyrrhic” victory.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Edd. Great to hear your family figured out an arrangement that works well for them, it sounds like that provides comfort to your gruncle.

      That for catching my typo. The word I had used turns out to be a real one, but almost exactly wrong. Looking it up, I just learned more about geology than I ever wanted to know!

  7. David Andrews 23 February 2021

    “not my circus, not my monkey”. I haven’t heard that one in a while, a former manager was fond of using malaphors such as “it’s not rocket surgery” and we started to try and introduce other phrases into his colourful repertoire and that was one we chose.

    Anyway, I have a line in my spreadsheet for “potential inheritance” but it’s not a key item in my financial planning. I’ve advised my Father that it’s his money and he should spend it all as he sees fit. Being the most sensible of his two son’s I’ve been granted LPA and rather hope I don’t have to use it.

    My brother and I are named to inherit half of my Father’s house but his partner will have a life interest in the property. My plan is to be able to buy my brother out of his half of the property and then give it to my son ( presently 6 years old ).

    If things don’t go according to plan then it will not cause my undue pain as it’s money / property that I’ve never considered myself entitled to.

    I got a decent childhood and he always has a beer for me and an ice cream for my son when we visit every couple of weeks so I think I’ve already done pretty well.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks David. Beer and ice cream sounds like winning to me.

      I wonder how we will react when our own children start telling us what we can and can’t do with our money? A recurring theme throughout the comments here has been adult children granting permission to elderly parents about something that isn’t really theirs to permit. I’ve been guilty of this too, I can only hope my mother was smiling on the inside at the implied sense of entitlement I had presumptuously demonstrated by doing so. Troubling thought that!

      All the best with that split ownership property arrangement. Major maintenance or enhancement costs can get contentious when a property is home to one part owner but merely an investment for the others. The difference in perspective between owner-occupied property being an asset versus an investment doesn’t get much more starkly illustrated than in those moments.

      Hopefully your father’s partner can afford to buy you and your brother out, to avoid future issues along those lines.

      • David Andrews 23 February 2021

        Thanks for the reply. Yes, the life interest may well be an “interesting” situation to deal with. Quite what the financial, practical and legal implications a life interest will have are an area I’m continuing to research.

        She will not be able to buy us out and I’d want to retain the property. However, from a purely financial aspect having a lot of money tied up in a property that I cannot live in, receive no rent from and I’m potentially responsible for maintaining will challenging.

        My brother has taken a rather different approach to life then myself and would probably just want the money as soon as possible.

        Families are indeed complicated and it makes teaching my son fractions whilst patching production IT infrastructure much easier by comparison.

        • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

          “it makes teaching my son fractions whilst patching production IT infrastructure much easier by comparison”

          I hear this!

          It would be worth having an uncomfortable discussion about what happens to her share after her death, as you could potentially find yourselves partnering with a host of new faces all with differing needs, priorities, and timescales.

          • David Andrews 25 February 2021

            My understanding is that a life interest means the beneficiary has the use of the property during their life time but on their death it passes to a third party; e.g. A house is left to a spouse to live in during their lifetime but on their death the houses passes to children. My Father’s partner has no share in the property.

            I did have a rather uncomfortable discussion with my Father a number of years ago when I mentioned what would happen if he predeceases her, could she potentially move a new partner into the house ? Families are complicated aren’t they.

            Yesterday’s home schooling involved calculating fractions using the Singapore bar method. Imagine my excitement. If you’ve seen the Incredible’s 2, my household is a continuing groundhog day where I’m Mr Incredible expressing incredulity that they’ve changed the way maths is taught.

            • {in·deed·a·bly} 25 February 2021 — Post author

              Interesting. I’m not qualified to comment on the mechanics of the arrangement, but if I were you I would get some professional advice about where the demarcation boundaries are for your legal responsibilities.

              As the beneficial owner, are you responsible for the repairs and upkeep? In other words, are you effectively a residential landlord offering a lifelong tenancy, for which you receive no rent and can’t terminate or evict the tenant?

              If so, are you also subject to the same legal obligations of a residential landlord (e.g. gas and electricity safety inspections, immigration status checks, smoke alarms, ensuring fixtures and fittings comply with fire safety standards, etc)?

              And if you aren’t all those things, then who is responsible for resolving the clichéd boiler breaking down on Christmas day, or the emergency roof repairs over the Easter weekend? The “tenant” is unlikely to be happy investing their scarce precious resources in long term structural repairs or expensive fixture/fitting replacements when they will effectively be donating that investment to you at the conclusion of their occupation.

              The other potential challenge I can see coming is what happens when the “tenant” needs to shuffle off to an aged care home? Normally they could sell or reverse mortgage their home to help pay for the fees, but in this case that doesn’t sound like it will be an option. Which leaves you with a moral quandary, as the partner is obviously very important to your father (though tellingly, not important enough to leave the house to). Legally you aren’t obligated to help, but what are your father’s expectations in that circumstance?

  8. steveark 23 February 2021

    I guess I’m the unusual one because my brother and I each inherited one million USD several years ago. We had encouraged our folks to spend their money, but ill health made that impossible and large pensions prevented nursing homes from draining the estate. There was no drama, we split my parents estate 50-50 without any argument. I was closer distance wise so I did most of the work but the documents were in order and not that difficult. I took no fee as executor. But brother and I were both pushing 60 at the time so the money didn’t move the needle for either of us, we already had more than enough without adding another million, although it did give him a bigger safety margin. My kids will get more than that from my wife and myself when we pass, probably a lot more. But hopefully they will be older too and won’t need the money either. So far they are off to a good start. They know they will inherit a goodly sum but I do not believe it impacts any of their decisions, after all who could wait until they were 60 to start living? I can’t begin to understand why anyone would pass inheritance around their own kids to grandkids, its that kind of decision that causes family conflict. In my case I immediately made my wife joint owner of the million, in my mind we don’t have separate assets because we pledged to be a team for life. And if she ever changes her mind at least she gets to leave rich. In her case she inherited some family farm land, not worth a lot, and that stays in her name because the family wants to keep that farm together for the grandkids who farm the area. That’s fine with me too, land isn’t the same as money.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 23 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks Steveark. Great to hear a story of everything working smoothly, the narrative is so often dominated by the gossip-worthy conflicts.

      Well done also for smoothing the ride for your progeny. The knowledge that a future safety net exists may well defuse some of the day-to-day financial stressors that many families experience.

      There could be many reasons for skipping a generation. Some of them real. Some imagined. I’m not privy to the thinking in this case.

      Perhaps, like your wife’s case, they want to keep it in the family.

      Maybe they don’t trust their children not to fight and fall out over it, when one lives nearby and the other on the half a world away. As in your case, one sibling has done the lion’s share of the heavy lifting over the years.

      It could be they are currying favour with the next generation, or punishing the older generation for past misdeeds.

      In some cases there may be tax advantages, skipping a round of inheritance taxes for example, were the money to be subsequently passed on again.

      Families are complicated.

      • Steveark 23 February 2021

        Yes, we don’t have inheritance taxes here in most states until you get to over $11 million but I can see how that might enter in to it. My kids are very trustworthy but that isn’t always the case.

  9. Bob 24 February 2021

    Lockdown Kitten deserves a show of its own. But I’ll be interested if more birthday cards start arriving in a few years.

  10. weenie 26 February 2021

    I’ve planned for receiving zero inheritance – we’re a big family so if there is anything, any share would be tiny. If more was given to one sibling because it was my parents’ wish, I can’t see me contesting it – it’s their money to do as they wish. Conversely, if for some unfathomable reason I was left more than the other siblings, I’d probably split it evenly myself to avoid any sort of family rift.

    I like hearing my parents talking about buying things and going on trips (pre-covid) because I would rather they spent the money on themselves.

  11. dearieme 27 February 2021

    I inherited from my parents in my early forties. Not lots, but enough to give a comforting feeling that we had something to fall back on in the case of multiple emergencies.

    Later I kept a note of the money we gifted to, or spent on, our offspring after age 18. I looked up the index of retail price inflation and corrected all the cash flows to “real” values. It turns out that, to the nearest 50 quid, I’ve given away all my inheritance. Perhaps that was a particularly good use for it.

    It’s now understood that there will be no more until the second of us dies. That also seems reasonable to me. God knows what “care” might cost.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 27 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks dearieme. It is fantastic that your parent’s money was able to productively assist their grandchildren, a win all around.

      Great also that your kids understand that generosity has limits, and yours has been reached.

  12. Ray Gardner 27 February 2021

    Thanks for the article. As it happens, inheritance has come up in our household discussions. My partner’s mum has said that she plans to leave the flat she lives in, in the UK, to my partner and her long time holiday home, to my partners sister. My partners sister loves the holiday home but it is worth less than the UK flat and wants an extra payment so that the inheritances are of equal value.

    To my mind that’s a bit cakeist and I think it is for the mother to disburse as she sees fit (although I suppose I have an interest here!).

    The key thing is that they thrash it out before the time comes, as losing your parent is not a great backdrop for a difficult discussion.

    I agree with the comment that one reason that inheritance can lead to passionate views is that it is the ‘one chance’ to gain wealth. Luckily those on the FI path know that’s not the case

    When my parents go I am already mentally pencilling in any inheritance to skip me and to go to my daughter. If your parents raise you well there is nothing more you should ask of them.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 27 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Ray.

      Hopefully your partner’s mother has the means to head off the sibling rivalry, without your partner being asked to sell up or otherwise find the funds required to even things out.

      I guess it comes back to how the windfall is perceived. If it is a gift, then it is the thought that counts. If it is a cash grab, then snouts in the trough, and be fast or go hungry.

      That “one chance” may well appear like a lottery win, requiring no effort on behalf of the recipient. Given the alternative, it is hard to argue that it beats the hell out of a lifetime of compromise, frugality, and living like the millionaire next door!

      I agree with your thoughts on obligation.

  13. greencat66 28 February 2021

    I very much enjoyed the article once again – and the comments section.

    The prospect of inheritances seem to reveal the character of people. Zen like hippy friends seem to become penny pinching accountants in the face of one.

    I’m lucky/unlucky enough that none of my relatives have any money and I have no offspring. There will be no inheritance for me.

    No doubt my nieces & nephews will be mentally divvying up my possessions someday. Good luck – I’ll be leaving it to my local community/charities. Inheritances are one of the things that bake unfairness into our society – and I’ll not be contributing to it.

    • {in·deed·a·bly} 28 February 2021 — Post author

      Thanks greencat66, glad you enjoyed it.

      Like anything, I think inheritances can be good or bad depending on the circumstance and the individuals. Many of the major prizes, scholarships, and bursaries are the legacy of some old rich person who wanted to help others and be remembered.

      Isn’t that simply an inheritance by another name? But one that does some lasting good.

      • greencat66 1 March 2021

        I feel like scholarships etc are a fairer way of passing on wealth to the next generation as it gives others beyond those related to you a chance of accessing some of its benefits. Not perfect, of course, as who is to say some rich person’s priority a few decades/hundred years ago is what is of most benefit to society now.

  14. Dividend Power 11 March 2021

    I think that one should live life like they are not getting an inheritance and if one comes then its a bonus.

What say you?

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