Can I Ask My Parents for an Advance on My Inheritance?
Posted December 6, 2018 9:50 p.m. EST
Q: I am buying a house. I have a plan to afford it, but it would be much easier if my parents (in their 80s) gave me an “advance” on the money they will leave me. I hate to sound crass, but I’d like to enjoy some of it while they’re alive — maybe even host a family gathering. I asked my older sister, who has financial power of attorney for them. She thought it should be structured as a loan with a minimal interest rate. But when my parents helped with her kids’ education, years ago, there was no loan. Am I being petty? I intend to speak to my parents, but I’d love your input. — Kathy
A: Here’s the thing about your parents’ money: It’s theirs! Asking for an advance on your inheritance is crass, for sure, but worse, it may hurt their feelings — as if you were licking your chops in anticipation of their death. (And I’m sure you’re not.) So, let’s find another way.
You don’t say how well off your parents are, how much of their savings they may need in the future or whether the power of attorney is already in effect. If you are sure that they are still competent to make this decision and can afford it, ask for a loan. Let them decide whether to make it a gift. And drop the tit-for-tat with your sister over her children’s education. That help was given at another time and probably long planned.
My biggest reservation here is that many parents I know would go without to help their children (even deep into adulthood). If that sounds like yours, stick with your original plan to pay for the house yourself. There comes a time to put our parents first, after years of the reverse arrangement. That time may have come, Kathy.
Performance Anxiety in the Kitchen
Q: When I first began dating my girlfriend, about a year ago, I told her I would always cook for her. (I was a decent cook in college.) She was very into this idea. But every time I cook for her I get something wrong. She’s never had a decent meal that came from my kitchen. And when she’s not around, my meals come out beautifully! What can I do? — Sophie
A: Other than relax? This is called performance anxiety, Sophie, and many of us suffer from it. Give me a bucket of balls and a deserted tennis court, and I serve like Serena Williams. Put someone on the other side of the net, and I double-fault all afternoon.
Try turning down the pressure on yourself. On the tennis court, I play points without keeping score. In the kitchen, enlist your girlfriend’s help. A cassoulet made by two may be a less freighted enterprise for you. Once you’ve got a few decent meals under your belt, I imagine you’ll be back to cooking as well as ever. (And a nice glass of Barolo probably wouldn’t hurt.)
Q: My husband, our young son and I have a house in the country, a few hours from our primary residence. We don’t get there often because of our heavy workloads. But when we do, our neighbors (who also have a young child) are at our door within 10 minutes of our arrival. The kids are happy to see each other. But my husband and I would like to settle in and enjoy some downtime together rather than immediately hear stories about our neighbors’ lives since the last time we saw them. How do we maintain a friendly relationship and stop the uninvited visits? — Anonymous
A: Here’s a wild suggestion: the truth! Boundaries don’t appear by magic; we set them. The next time your neighbors bound over, say, “How nice to see you! Let us settle in, and maybe we can grab a drink later?”
Let the kids play. Relax with your husband. And invite the neighbors over for a glass of wine at night or coffee the next day. If you don’t like them turning up uninvited, you have to let them know. Just be neighborly about it.
Can He Quit It With the Nastygrams?
Q: My best friend from childhood married a dunderhead who thinks it’s funny to post unflattering pictures of her on Instagram without her knowledge. The photos are often of her sleeping or wearing pajamas. He also writes posts that paint her in a poor light. Initially, he lied to her about this. (Their pastor even got involved!) But he’s still posting about her regularly. I’d like to rat him out. But would that be meddling in their marriage? — Anonymous
A: If your friend confided in you about this problem, it’s reasonable to check in with her and let her know that the unappealing photos are still coming fast and furious. But stay out of this mess if you heard about it from a third party.
Your friend is surely aware of her husband’s behavior. It doesn’t require mad sleuthing skills (or a friend from youth) for her to check his social media feeds occasionally and call him out on his nasty behavior.