• Family Inheritance Planning

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    This weekend was my maternal grandmother’s 85th birthday, and my family threw a big party for her. Our family is scattered across the country, but most of the family made the trip to celebrate with her. Her home is the heart of our family. Everyone calls it “the Big House” as in, “Will you be at the Big House for Christmas?” It has been in our family for generations and serves as the gathering place for every family celebration. But lately the big house has become too big for my grandmother. Even though there are other family members living there with her, nobody hears her frequent falls because the house is too big.

    So the future of the Big House was called into question this weekend, with everyone gathered there. What will become of the Big House when grandmother is no longer able to live there, or when she passes away? The entire family agrees that the house should stay in the family, but who exactly will inherit it is undetermined. The six-bedroom house is much larger than the typical modern family needs. It is older and costly to maintain: a recent roof replacement alone cost $30,000. The property is huge and requires a gardener. The property taxes are very high. Who in my generation of grandchildren could even afford to keep the home?

    We proposed that possibly, if the timing worked out in a few years, we could. Our income is higher than almost all of my other cousins’ incomes, so we would best be able to afford it. Another option would be a cousin and his wife, who could share the home and expenses with their parents. Though the expenses would be a burden, it would mean preserving a family bond for one more generation. To me and my family, that is priceless.

    Have you ever taken on a large financial obligation out of duty to your family?

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