Dear Moneyist,

My in-laws recently approached my wife and I about giving us our inheritance now, rather than later. They would prefer to see us spend the money now.

They are very well-off and, while they haven’t discussed exact numbers, if given a lump sum, I’d anticipate an inheritance of at least six figures.

I do not like the idea of receiving large sums of money that I did not earn. Regardless of how much money we have when we are older, my wife and I have agreed that our children are on their own after they move out of our house.

If I am lucky enough to be in a situation where I have a large sum of money, I will certainly leave them some, but I have no desire to leave it all to them, or provide for them when they are grown adults. I believe one gets more enjoyment out of working for one’s own things.

Don’t miss: My grandson’s live-in girlfriend hates me and doesn’t want me to stay at their home — should I still leave him all my money?

Additionally, it seems that my in-laws only want to give us money if we are planning to spend it on things they approve. That makes it seem like less of a gift and more of a way for them to influence our decision-making.

Am I over-thinking this and being selfish by saying I do not want their money? They already helped us buy our house, one that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. My wife and I both have good incomes and we have no debt other than our mortgage.

We only pay cash for large items, so it isn’t like we need their money to get out of debt or finance some kind of emergency.


Dear Son-in-Law,

The biggest interference they’ve made in your life so far appears to be helping you buy your home. That sounds like the kind of meddling most people could tolerate even on a wet weekend when the in-laws come to stay! They’ve already opened their wallet for your and your wife, so the proverbial horse or piñata has already bolted.

Perhaps that monetary help made you feel uncomfortable. The worst kind of in-law gift tax would include comments like, “You know what would look great in your living room? An ottoman so your father-in-law can put his feet up in your house when he watches the game.” Or, “I’m not crazy about the color you chose for your bedroom.”

Recommended: My mom gave my sister $20,000 for her stem-cell treatment, I want her to deduct it from her inheritance

I’m speculating here, of course. My point is: You’re certainly not unusual in accepting help from in-laws for a big-ticket item like a house. In fact, more than one-quarter of mortgage borrowers who took out a Federal Housing Administration-insured loan received assistance from a family member for the down payment, according to a recent report from the FHA.

Also see: My daughter bought a home for me, but now she needs cash and refuses my help

You could accept the money and (a) use it for a 529 plan for your children’s education, (b) open a savings account for your children’s future housing needs and/or (c) take one vacation per year with the family, perhaps somewhere where you couldn’t ordinarily afford to go. You can’t buy memories like that. Actually, you can. You could even bring your in-laws along.

Option (c) might be a stretch for you, but my overarching point is this money could benefit other people in your family to give them the same start that you and your wife enjoyed when embarking on married life. It’s admirable that you want your adult children to stand on their own two feet. Perhaps take a leaf out of your in-law’s book and help them with their first house, too.

A high six-figure sum would make quite a few nice down payments.

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