Advanced search

AIBU to not want anything to do with PILs 'Inheritance Planning' ?

(125 Posts)
TheRabbitCatcher Sun 05-May-13 13:44:14

I've namechanged as this is quite a personal issue.

PILs are (very amicably) divorced and, through shrewd house purchases, hard work and their own inheritances have decent-sized estates (about 4-5m between them I guess).

Recently they have approached DH several times to discuss 'inheritance planning'. He has no interest in the actual money and doesn't care for tax dodges so has suggested that they speak to a professional who can help them to decide what to do. Actually, I think that he is terrified of the idea of his parents dying, but that's not the reason he gave them. While I respect DH's wish not to discuss the issue, this has led to PILs now coming to me to ask if I can 'encourage' DH to engage or become involved myself. I don't feel comfortable talking to them about their money either so have taken to changing the subject or found reasons to avoid any lunches clearly planned to discuss the topic (this tactic is not long-term, I know). I know that they read our lack of interest as being unsupportive of them and irresponsible (towards them and our children, who I suppose would gain the most out of their planning). To them, I think that leaving a 'good' inheritance is important, especially as their parents did this. While I am happy to support them in other ways, I feel very uncomfortable talking about this (basically, discussing how we could gain the most out of their deaths) and know them to be more than capable of making the 'right' choices without our involvement. My own family is not especially well off and Quaker, all this feels a bit alien to me.

AI (and my husband) BU?

WafflyVersatile Sun 05-May-13 13:55:23

Would you rather not have the money?

Can you just say that you don't feel comfortable talking about it, are happy for them to leave you or your children as much or as little as they wish and trust that a professional can guide them to prepare wills to their satisfaction.

AintNobodyHereButUsKittens Sun 05-May-13 13:56:25

Assuming you like them, and want to preserve family good feeling, then I think you need to tell them honestly some of the things you've said here, so that they don't feel that you are being a judgemental lefty who thinks that they are tax avoiding scum stealing money from disabled orphans.

NB that it is irrelevant whether you do think this or not, if they think you do then it will be disastrous for family relationships.

I'd tell them the bit about "DH feels very uncomfortable about thinking about your deaths, and about discussing benefiting from your deaths" and "we have total trust in your financial acumen and your ability, in conjunction with professional advisers, to make sensible arrangements"

WafflyVersatile Sun 05-May-13 13:56:50

Sorry by my first question I just mean that you may not want to inherit a lot of money for whatever reason. It wasn't meant to read as a snidey Q, which it does to me now.

WafflyVersatile Sun 05-May-13 13:57:39

Kittens has a much better suggested wording.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sun 05-May-13 14:00:06


If they have worked hard to put themselves in this good financial position, then of course they want to pass as much of it on to their family as they can. You and your DH are being a churlish, and childish to just stick your fingers in your ears about it.

They probably want to know what your aspirations are for your children, should they put money in trust for education, or house purchases? How old do you want your children to be before they have significant money of their own? 18? 21? 25?

At the very least you need to sit down with them properly as a couple and express your discomfort in a rational way.

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 14:01:55

I don't think either you or you in laws ABU as such, you just have a different way of thinking about things.
However, I do think it's always sensible to have open, adult discussions about death and the wishes you all have about what happens after your death, and that is a lot easier now, when death isn't thought to be imminent rather than leaving it until someone is terminally ill.
I think it's very thoughtful of them to want to discuss options with your dh, rather than dictating that their money should be used for x, y, or z, which is perhaps not you would have wanted for your dc.

PortHills Sun 05-May-13 14:04:18


Death is sad, and I can understand why it might seem easier to pretend it won't happen. i know you haven't asked for the inheritance, but when you die it is all over, except for what you can do for your family going forward. Knowing they have done their best to provide for their kin, as their parents did for them, is clearly important to them and it will comfort for them in their old age and death to know they have done what they perceive to be the right thing. If your DH doesn't engage with his parents in this matter, then he is stopping them from having that comfort.


Ragwort Sun 05-May-13 14:06:37

I think Kittens advice is very good; it is very uncomfortable to talk about this sort of thing (which, however Ali phrases it, is basically tax avoidance) but if you say tactfully, that you would be happier if they sought professional advice, then that should be acceptable all round. Also as an in-law, it is even more difficult to discuss 'inheritance issues' without appearing grabby.

My own parents are very comfortably off and generous but I know that my DH finds it a very difficult situation, they are clearly wealthier (and have been more successful financially) that we are and I guess in some ways that makes him feel slightly 'inadaquate' (I know he shouldn't feel that, but he does) so he doesn't want anything to do with whatever 'arrangements' are made.

StrangeGlue Sun 05-May-13 14:08:36

You and your dh aren't being U. I think you should just explain your hesitation and see where that conversation goes.

YellowDinosaur Sun 05-May-13 14:08:36

What alibaba said.

You need to sit down with them and at the very least understand what they want to discuss. I had this discussion with my parents. Of course I don't want them to die and would rather they live forever than have any amount of money but realistically it is going to happen at some point and probably while i'm still alive. My Dad worked his nuts off for us so I think having this discussion is showing my respect of that.

There is nothing wrong with you telling then why you are uncomfortable discussing this and then they can keep it add brief as possible such as asking specific questions such as when you would want your DC to inherit. Then they can short out the details with a professional.

But while I understand your upset at this, death is a certainty for us all and I think its unreasonable to not have a basic discussion with them. It's certainly very unreasonable to avoid them as a way to put it off.

poozlepants Sun 05-May-13 14:09:25

I don't think this is really about them dying tbh. Since I first met my FIL 25 years ago all he talked about what financial planning, his annuities, pension etc etc. Now he is retired all he talks about his inheritance and death duties and blah, blah, blah. He desn't have nearly as much as your IL's but it's his thing. I don't think it's actually about his dying because even though he's in his mid seventies he thinks he's going to live forever. It's just his thing- he always has to be planning the next financial stage. We aren't interested but we just let them gibber on because they'll probably live on and use all their savings up in care fees.
There is no point DH sticking his head in the sand.

specialsubject Sun 05-May-13 14:14:12

The only unreasonable thing is the refusal to deal with the fact that loved ones WILL die.

For adults to ignore the planning for this 100% certain event is juvenile. The odds are that you and your husband WILL have to deal with helping the survivor, and then winding up affairs once both are gone.

There are very limited ways now to avoid inheritance tax so don't worry too much about that - and there is a reasonable chance that a big chunk will disappear in care fees. With an inheritance of that size, probably not all of it.

so get heads out of the sand, ask parents what their wishes are for their money (stressing the importance that THEY come first), discuss it all and express your preferences, employ a solicitor to sort it all find out where the wills are, who the executors are and then relax with the job done.

powers of attorney and living wills are also a good idea, again so that the wishes of parents can be followed.

MichaelaS Sun 05-May-13 14:14:53

Sorry but I think YABU. Inheritance planning is often about passing on money in good time before death. If its given at least 7 years before death there is no inheritance tax to pay. They could be looking to set up trusts or to directly give you money now. Either way, why volunteer to pay 40% tax? If you feel you should morally pay it why not accept the money and give 40% or more to charities you support, that way you can be sure it is going to help the aged / poor children / local communities rather than pay MPs expenses.

Either way, it is their decision who they leave their money to. By refusing to discuss it you may be wasting the money either in tax which need not have been paid, or by your kids getting large amounts of money for education they might not want (eg uni fund) or before they are mature enough not to blow it on cars, parties and drink.

Talking about death is never nice, but it must be even harder when it's your own death that you want to discuss and everyone else is refusing to engage.

Bite the bullet and sit down like grown ups. You can always say you don't want anything and give th the opportunity to choose charities they want to support rather than get it anyway, heavily taxed, years down the line.

CloudsAndTrees Sun 05-May-13 14:15:08

I think YABU.

This is clearly something that matters a lot to them, and it will be important to them that these things are sorted before they get very old. I think it's quite selfish to allow them to live with the worry of it not being sorted just because of some discomfort you feel.

Let them have the comfort of knowing that arrangements have been made so that they can forget about it and carry on living their lives.

Wishiwasanheiress Sun 05-May-13 14:17:16

There was a tv show regarding planning for your death. Basically it is financial planning. They sound extremely sensible. I would be honoured to be be able to have such careful parents or inlaws.

It is not grabby. It is not charity or anything but practical. They are planning the detail. So including presumably how to care for them in certain eventualities, gifts to friends/charities, trusts potentially to gc's. gifts to friends and family.

I agree with ur instinct to tread carefully as they are not ur parents and these plans should by rights affect their son only in a legal sense. It is sensible but not a prerequisite that he joins in. Depends on their question.

Be grateful. Many dont bother and near and dear are left in all sorts of tricky situations. Personally i would fear that more.

TheRabbitCatcher Sun 05-May-13 14:18:13

Thanks for the thoughts, it's really helpful to have other perspectives. I agree that it is thoughtful of them and although we don't see eye to eye on many issues (taxation being one of those issues), I appreciate that they are thinking in our best interests. I suspect they do think that we sound churlish so we should find some way of explaining how we feel properly. Also, I think that their intention is to 'gift' money (and 'things'- my mother collects ceramics), which again feels a little weird. I suppose we could look into money going into trust for the children (a 'family trust' has been mentioned).

Viviennemary Sun 05-May-13 14:20:27

They are probably trying to avoid inheritance tax which I think runs at 40%. So if nobody is interested in whether or not they would want the money to go to the state then they would be better donating money to the charity of their choice.

claudedebussy Sun 05-May-13 14:22:04


they are trying to protect your inheritance. if you can't bear discussing it, ask them to transfer assets to a family trust. they decide who benefits and they decide who the trustees are.

it is a horrible subject and clearly you are not a money grabbing person which is great. but they have slogged bloody hard for their money and don't want 40% of it to go to the tax man.

Wishiwasanheiress Sun 05-May-13 14:22:06

In short yes yabu

Kat101 Sun 05-May-13 14:26:14

Your DH is not thinking ahead. What if all the money goes on care home fees, and once the second partner dies he is saddled with a huge tax bill? CGTax, IHTax, urgency to get property sold to pay HMRC just adds stress onto an already stressful situation.

I personally am all for planning for one's death. Which stems from having to pay HMRC a huge chunk of my grandparents estate once they'd gone. It seemed unfair that they'd already paid income tax on their earnings, stamp duty on house purchase, capital gains tax and then HMRC weren't content with all that, they wanted inheritance tax on top.

So now my father and my family are planned to the nth degree, We've worked fucking hard for our assets and paid a shit load of tax along the way, I want as much as possible to go towards my childrens estates rather than lining HMRC's pockets. Especially as IHT was designed to tax only the super wealthy and the govt keep the cut off as low as they can get away with.

Deffodil Sun 05-May-13 14:36:52


There is 800K inheritance tax to pay,on our recent family bereavement. Look at it that way. You really have to be pragmatic,and hand as little as possible over to the government.

Pusspuss1 Sun 05-May-13 14:45:43

You need to have the conversation that they want to have with you and DH, and then let them instruct their solicitor to put in place the estate planning strategy that they decide on. It will probably be a question of you listening to them explain their plans, as opposed to much input being needed from you and DH. They are being very sensible and thoughtful to do some tax planning, and they just want to ensure that the assets they have worked hard to build up will pass on tax efficiently to those they love. They should be congratulated for their common sense. Time to man up and have the conversation!

suburbophobe Sun 05-May-13 14:47:13

I think you and your DH should support them in this, if it makes them feel at ease.

Would you rather the tax man gets it? You can always put it in trust for your DC. And help their education etc.

Minifingers Sun 05-May-13 14:50:16

Oh for goodness sake, stop being squeamish. They are going to die one day. So will you. And your kids. It's really not sensible or grown up to refuse to acknowledge this fact and its no comfort to them.

However, if you're going to take a principled stance on not taking shed loads of money you haven't earned then tell them this unequivocally. Tell them they can make plans to donate it to charity and you have NO problem with this at all.

FWIW if I was in your shoes I'd be dancing around the kitchen at the thought of one day getting that amount of money left to me.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: