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I've lost a parent but gained an inheritance and a shit load of guilt.

(64 Posts)
PrivateP Fri 21-Sep-12 20:27:13

Name changer here. Being eaten up with worry and need some advice.

I had a pretty miserable, unsettled childhood and made my own way in the world both emotionally and financially. One of my parents had a mental illness, which added to this. However, in later life my family grew closer and things really were looking up. Unfortunately this was short lived as one of my parents died suddenly. Having to support my surviving parent, who is the one with the mental illness, has been difficult at times. I have young kids of my own and a stressful job. I suppose I haven't really dealt with the loss.

Anyway, my parents were exceptionally frugle and latterly became wealthy due to some shrewd decisions and admittedly, trampling on a few people. As they didn't have a will, the estate is left between my surviving parent, myself and my sibling. My dilemma is that my sibling has taken it for granted that we'll hand over our inheritance to our surviving parent, despite the fact that they've got a fairly huge chunk and a house. Part of me wants to hand mine over too - but the other part can't help thinking that I could put away some cash for my DC's education and pay a chunk of my mortgage. On the one hand I'm fairly sure if they had had a will it would leave everything to the surviving spouse, on the other hand the parent I lost wouldn't grudge me or my DC the money. I haven't spoken to anyone about this and it's making me ill with worry.

What would you do?

kittyandthegoldenfontanelles Fri 21-Sep-12 20:30:59

If it was left to you then it is yours to do as you see fit. You are under no obligation to follow your sibling.

ClaireDeTamble Fri 21-Sep-12 20:32:26

Were your parents married?

If they were and if there is no will then everything will pass to your surviving parent.

Equally, if they weren't married but assets were in joint names, the surviving partner inherits.

I think you will only inherit if they weren't married and any assets were not in joint names.

sparkle12mar08 Fri 21-Sep-12 20:34:01

I'd invest it in my family's long term future - exactly what you've said - pay a chunk off the mortgage, set up a trust/investment for the children. Please don't worry about it, if your sibling is actively bullying you I know it will be hard, but don't make yourself ill.

kittyandthegoldenfontanelles Fri 21-Sep-12 20:36:20

Also should have said, I'm sorry you've lost a parent. That must be terrible no matter what the circumstances.

sparkle12mar08 Fri 21-Sep-12 20:39:17

Everything does not necessarily pass to the surviving spouse. Intestacy goes as follows:

1. Net estate not more than £250,000 – All to spouse/civil partner if he/she survives the deceased by 28 days.

2. Net estate over £250,000 – First £250,000 plus personal possessions to spouse/civil partner. Half of the rest is shared equally amongst the children. The spouse/civil partner also has the right to the interest only on the other half during his/her lifetime, then after the death of the spouse/ civil partner, to the children in equal shares.

£250k is easily reached these days because of house prices alone, so children of intestate married parents will often get a lump sum.

BobbiFleckman Fri 21-Sep-12 20:40:29

clare that's only up to a ltd amount. once the estate exceeds a certain level, the balance is then split between life interest for spouse / children.

your surviving parent is being well catered for given the estate is above that limit, and actually I think most parents want to leave something for their children too. Take the inheritance, spend it wisely and thank your parent for a good education / home for their grandchildren.

in terms of relations with your sibling, are they likely to resent you not handing yours over? can you speak openly with them? and is their financial position materially different to yours? It'll take a conversation because as you know, it's not worth falling out over

snowmummy Fri 21-Sep-12 20:42:56

I think Claire's right. If there was no will, then all assets would pass to the spouse so I don't think you have any decision to make at this point.

LemonBreeland Fri 21-Sep-12 20:44:15

I think if the money comes to you then you use it.

kitty in Scotland if there is no will then one third goes to the spouse and the other two thirds are split between children.

edam Fri 21-Sep-12 20:44:37

I'm sorry you've lost your parent and have such a miserable time coping with the survivor.

The money is yours to do with as you will - don't allow yourself to be blackmailed into a decision that you aren't happy with.

Claire's wrong, btw. The widow/er of someone who dies without making a will does not get it all when there are children - if there's more than a certain amount. I think the brackets may have changed, but it used to be the case that the spouse got the first £250k and any remainder was split between children and spouse. Exactly what has happened here. Which creates real difficulties for people with houses worth more than that...

LemonBreeland Fri 21-Sep-12 20:44:53

Apologies I meant Claire.

ClaireDeTamble Fri 21-Sep-12 20:45:46

sparkle - Isn't that only the case if it is not joint assets though?

Yes, I can see if the deceased parents assets weren't in joint names, there would be an inheritance.

In which case, assuming it was cash and didn't involve the surviving parent having to move to free up property assets, given what the surviving parent would be inheriting, I would not feel guilty about using the money to secure my child's future.

Rowanhart Fri 21-Sep-12 20:46:12

Without being cynical, you are being incredibly short sighted.

If you don't upset the surviving parent surely all will be eventually divided between you and sibling.

Or why not speak to parent about this and whether they think it might be better for you and sibling to keep share to avoid inheritance taxes later?

PrivateP Fri 21-Sep-12 20:46:58

There was no will but the estate is pretty large and some of it wasn't in joint names. It's this that automatically goes to my sibling and I. My surviving parent will have two houses and a life insurance policy.

There hasn't been any discussion, my sibling just presumes that this is what we'll do and wouldn't dream of doing anything else.

I hate confrontation and I don't want to be the cause of any arguments and ultimately I'd choose to keep the peace rather than the money, but I can't help but think, "What if?".

snowmummy Fri 21-Sep-12 20:47:06

ah ok I stand corrected too

edam Fri 21-Sep-12 20:48:22

anyone interested in the rules of intestacy can look here

ladyWordy Fri 21-Sep-12 20:49:05

By law, this is your money. There isn't anything to be ill about or lose sleep over: or not that I can see from your post.

If your surviving parent was in financial difficulty, your conscience might suggest you lend a hand with your new found wealth (and this would apply if you had had money from a completely different source). BUT
1) it doesn't sound as if this parent IS in financial difficulty and
2) I am 100% guessing about what your conscience would dictate! I don't know what's happened in your life. Only you know how you feel about this.

This leaves you with a difficult conversation with your sibling. If she/he has decided to hand the money back to the surviving parent, he/she is free to do so, but needs to know you don't feel the same.

Easy for me to say... would there would be a lot of difficulties with this conversation?

ladyWordy Fri 21-Sep-12 20:52:20

....I'm sorry that first part sounded tactless - I really meant to be kindly reassuring. brew

LongTimeLurking Fri 21-Sep-12 20:52:50

Keep the money; it is legally yours, you can invest it for your DC future and it doesn't sound like your remaining parent is exactly going to be hard up.

londonmackem Fri 21-Sep-12 20:52:52

It is a no brainier. If you don't keep the money and your surviving parent needs care then the money will go in no time. Also if you hand it over you will possibly have to pay inheritance tax as you will have lost your first parent's allowance. I dont think they were frugal for that money to go to the state, you must keep it - so long as you are not putting the surviving parent out on the street. If they need money at a later date you could always step in then.

PrivateP Fri 21-Sep-12 20:54:28

My sibling is in a better position than me financially, partly due to thriftiness. However, they haven't worked half as hard as I have and and cost my parents more money.

I'm pretty sure I want to keep the cash - at least some of it. How do I broach the subject with them?

I'm afraid we're not much good with conversations in my family.

As for the comment with being shortsighted - I couldn't care less about my future inheritance. Hopefully my surviving parent will live a long life and spend it all. Even if they were to leave everything with my other sibling, I wouldn't care. It's the cheque I'm to receive right now that's the issue for me.

BlueStringPudding Fri 21-Sep-12 20:54:30

If your parent doesn't need the money, then I can't think why you would give it to them. All you'll be doing is giving more to the taxman when your other parent dies. It's far more sensible and efficient for you to have it now.

It's quite possible that your parent didn't make a will because they were happy that the way it would be split if they didn't is what they wanted anyway.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 21-Sep-12 20:55:42

Do you risk not getting any further money?

And your surviving sibling inheriting everything from the other parent??

Personally, I would do what's right for you now and not wait, the surviving parent could just leave it all to the cats home.

LaurieFairyCake Fri 21-Sep-12 20:57:56

You don't need a conversation, you just say you need the money now.

wanttomakeadifference Fri 21-Sep-12 21:03:59

Do what is right for you and your family. This is what your deceased parent would have wanted.

Presumably if you keep this money it will put you in a better position to look after your surviving parent's needs. That is, if you are more secure you will be more available to help him/ her.....

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