happy ordinary mature couple together

Ask Rene:
An Early Inheritance Feels Weird
But My Parents Insist


Hi Rene,

Here’s my question!

My parents are in their sixties and are downsizing to a smaller home and lifestyle. As a result they’re freeing up a lot of money and want to give my brother and me a financial gift of around $15,000 each.

It’s a really generous gesture but it’s stirred up a lot of feelings inside of me.

First, it makes me realize my parents are getting older which is a little scary. But most of all I feel a little strange about taking the money. My parents have worked hard all their lives and have really scrimped and saved to get by. Both my brother and I are financially responsible and don’t have any debt – or children.

Our parents’ money would be very helpful and make life easier but I actually feel a bit weird about spending it knowing how hard they worked to accumulate it in the first place. Should I keep the money in stocks and shares or use a portion of it to have some fun?

Do my feelings make any sense – and what would you do with the money?


Rachel in New York



Hey Rachel:

Thanks so much for dropping by with your question. You’re grappling with a couple of different things here, the practical side which is about the money and the emotional side, which is coming to grips with the fact that your parents are not going to be around forever. So here’s what I would do.


1. Think About Unforeseen Circumstances

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There are a couple of things missing from your letter, namely the age and health of your parents. Those are critical components when planning your future and theirs. If they are in their early 60’s (which I consider fairly young) and in good health, they could live another two or three decades; the idea that they could outlive their money is simply unfathomable. On top of which one major illness could wipe them out. Another thing you have to plan for is any sort of economic uncertainty. As you know, we’re just emerging from a brutal recession, one that nearly everyone felt. What if that happened again? Your folks would probably be acutely affected since they’re getting by on a fixed income. Depending on the scope and breadth of the economic troubles, it could be quite brutal for them.