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Dave Ramsey says: Dad had right to get back money he lent to daughter

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Dear Dave,

My father loaned my husband and I money 20 years ago to help us start a business.

The business eventually failed, and it forced us into bankruptcy. After this, we never seemed to get around to paying him back.

He died earlier this year, and when we got together with my brother and sister for the reading of the will, we realized he had deducted the amount of the loan from my inheritance.

Everything was equal between us before that. I think that’s wrong. What’s your opinion?

— Karen

Dear Karen,

I’m really sorry about your dad. I’m also sorry this was never taken care of or discussed while he was still alive.

There are a lot of emotions at play, so I don’t want to beat you up too much. But legally, he didn’t have to leave you anything in his estate.

The stuff we’re talking about, money included, was his to do with as he saw fit. It was a little odd that he didn’t address this with you beforehand, but there are lots of instances where kids get nothing from an estate or not as much as others. It’s not uncommon.

In my mind, and, from the sound of it, his too, he left you an equal share minus what you still owed. He loaned you the money, and he had the right to set terms on that.

I understand your frustration. You feel like he took something away that was yours. My point is it was never yours; it was his.

I know it still hurts, though. This is one of the reasons I advise never borrowing money from, or loaning it to, relatives. The best of intentions can end up in places like this.

— Dave

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