My brother is in his mid-50s and nearly lost his home twice. Should I give him half of my inheritance to pay off his mortgage?
‘Over the last 10 years, he has borrowed a total of $30,000. While he has never declared bankruptcy to my knowledge, he has restructured his debts twice’
My brother is in his mid 50s and is not financially stable. He has no problems making money, but seems to have trouble managing it. He has told me on multiple occasions that he has no retirement funds saved. He is self-employed. Over the last 10 years, he has borrowed a total of $30,000 from me to help piece things together when needed. He has paid all of this back, but each time it takes longer and longer. I charge him no interest and don’t set a formal repayment schedule, so I really can’t complain. While he has never declared bankruptcy to my knowledge, he has restructured his debts twice. I know this is subjective, but I’ve seen him spend money that could have gone to a retirement account on big vacations, etc.
The Moneyist: My husband earned less than me for a decade, so I paid more towards our expenses. I want him to repay me
Should I just hold onto my half of the inheritance and set it aside for him to use if needed given that gifts with strings have such a stigma? My goal is to make sure he has a roof over his head when he can no longer work. I also want to be smart about how I help him. I may not always be able to help him out financially, and he has no one else to turn to. I am not close with him, but I do feel an obligation to him. I’m not concerned about straining our relationship, because we really don’t have one. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
I did find one alarming letter from her doctor, dated in 2012. It was the result of a diagnostics test saying my mother had developed a significant cognitive deficit. I believe that my aunt manipulated my mom into revising a new trust and leaving me out of it. How can I find out the truth of this matter?
Younger Sister in Texas
Your letter has such clarity, consideration and compassion. Thank you for writing it.
In a world where so many people want so much just because they want it, your letter was a refreshing, welcome change of pace. I also understand that you have been doing your best to provide intermittent financial support for your brother, while doing your best to help him maintain his financial independence. It’s a delicate balance. You, more than anyone, know his patterns and, I suspect, have some idea what led to his previous financial problems.
My first instinct was to provide money in a trust for your brother to be used solely for the purpose of mortgage repayments and an endowment to help pay for its upkeep, but given your brother’s unstable financial history I see that as a last resort. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, and if your brother receives a windfall, it could trigger whatever need he has for instant gratification or overspending.
The Moneyist: My late husband did not see his son in 30 years. Should I mail his son photos and other memorabilia — and risk him making a claim on his estate?
Instead, I suggest you go straight to the source, and suggest a financial therapist and/or adviser to go through his accounts, analyze his mistakes and help him figure out what could be the cause of his problems. He could have emotional problems — after all, most financial decisions are also emotional ones and, let’s face it, who doesn’t have emotional problems — substance-abuse issues and/or he could simply get overwhelmed.
When the American Psychological Association started posing the question in 2007 about what stresses people out the most, the No. 1 answer was money. Fear and anxiety over money can lead to paralysis, and that’s when bills start to pile up, and the problem snowballs. The field of financial therapy includes psychotherapists, marriage counselors, social workers and certified financial planners. They deal with hopes and dreams, as well as outgoings and expenditure.
Resist the temptation for a dramatic intervention. Not unless your hand is forced.
The Moneyist: My wife and I live with my dying mother. My brothers and I will inherit her home. Should I ask her to sell it — and move in with me?
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