Dave Ramsey says: Things can get ugly between family members over inheritance

Jul 2, 2024, 1:00 PM

A hand holding a pen writes "testament my last wish" on paper next to a stack of $100 bills in a ph...

Things can get ugly between family members when one relative is named sole heir, Dave Ramsey says. (Pixabay Illustration)

(Pixabay Illustration)

Dear Dave,

I’m 32 and debt-free, except for my house. My grandmother passed away a couple of months ago, and her will has caused problems for my family. I was her only relative living in the same town as she got older, so I looked in on her and helped take care of her, because she didn’t want to go into a care facility.

In her will, she left everything — her house and property, along with about $300,000 — to me. Some of my relatives said they deserve something. Two have even accused me of wanting everything she had and turning my grandmother against them. I don’t like what’s happening, but I’m not sure what to do. I never asked her for anything.


Dear Jeffrey,

I hate it when things get ugly between family members, especially at a time when everyone should be pulling together and supporting each other. I’m sorry you’re going through all this.

Let me ask you a question. Did you love your grandmother? It sounds to me like you did. A lot! It takes a special person to step in and help the way you did. I think it’s pretty obvious she loved you, too.

When a person dies, they can give their belongings to anyone they choose. It was your grandmother’s stuff, so it was her decision. Period. She could’ve spread it around among you and the rest of your family, but she didn’t do that. She had her reasons, and her final wishes were just that — her final wishes. No one in your family, even you, deserved anything from her.

I know this is a hard position for you to be in, Jeffrey. This has probably crossed your mind, so I’ll go ahead and say it. Generally speaking, it’s possible to transfer part of your inheritance to someone else even if it’s not specified in the will or trust. Keep in mind, you might need to seek court approval for such a transfer, depending on the jurisdiction and specific family circumstances.

Or, you can let anyone who has a problem with your grandmother’s decision contest the will. Of course, one possible outcome of that is you might have to spend the money she left fighting them in court. The lady left what she left. There’s no more. It was her house, her property and her money. The others aren’t entitled to what she had just because they’re relatives or they want it.

If you go to church, I’d advise you spend some time talking to your pastor about the situation. You’ve got a lot of folks mad at you right now, and I think you might benefit from a few kind words and an objective point of view. I’d also recommend sitting down with a good financial planner — someone with the heart of a teacher — and talk about how to best handle your newfound inheritance. Regardless of your decision, it’s always best to have a plan and be prepared.

In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up over this, son. You haven’t done anything wrong.

God bless you.



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Dave Ramsey says: Things can get ugly between family members over inheritance