I [28 M] recently found out that my grandfather [88 M] plans to leave me an enormous amount of money, and I don’t know how to feel about it.

Hi, everyone.

I am a surgical resident and I have a considerable amount of student loans from college and medical school. That being said, I’ve never really worried about my ability to pay them off, especially when I begin receiving my salary as an attending physician in a few years.

My grandfather and I have always been extremely close. He was a doctor as well, and has always taken an interest in my medical education. Unfortunately, about two years ago he was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and has recently decided to forego aggressive treatments and begin palliative care.

A few days ago, while I was visiting him, he confided in me that in his will he has left me his house, which he wants me to sell in order to pay off my entire student loan debt, and use the leftover money to buy a “starter home” for my wife and young son. He also specifically asked me not to share this with anyone else in our family. Based on real estate websites, his home is worth around $1.3M, and I only have about $210K in debt.

I feel very weird about this, to say the least. He has other assets which I am sure he will leave to other members of the family, but this is by far the most valuable. He has four living children (including my father, who I am close with) and I myself have three siblings. I feel guilty and bad about lying to them by omission, and taking such a large amount of money which I frankly don’t exactly need, although it would help. When I become an attending physician I will be the highest earner in my family by a large margin, and it doesn’t seem right for me to take this much money. I have a good relationship with my family and don’t want them to resent me for this. But my grandfather is my hero and one of the closest people in my life, and I obviously want to respect his last wishes.

Does anyone have any advice? Thank you.

**tl;dr**: I feel strange about taking so much money from my grandfather, and don’t want to cause resentment among my other family members.

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28 thoughts on “I [28 M] recently found out that my grandfather [88 M] plans to leave me an enormous amount of money, and I don’t know how to feel about it.

  1. Ecfriede February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    The one thing you know with 100% clarity is that your grandfather has made choices to make his final months as quiet and painless as possible. Debating how he has arranged his affairs is not what he wants to do.

    Everything else reads to me like insufficient data:
    1. You are not, as far as you’ve told us, the executor of his will, nor have you seen his entire financial portfolio. You may be worrying over nothing in terms of asset distribution.
    2. You also don’t (as far as we know) know what support he provided during his lifetime to each family member. Officially, my grandparents divided their estate equally among their children, but the debts that some children incurred during their lifetime were deducted from their share. Some of those debts were known in the family before my grandparents died — others were not.
    3. Depending on where you live and various tax codes, you may not be looking at 1.3 million even if you sell it for that much. Taxes, realtor costs, etc. will all eat into it.

  2. happyazngirl February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    When your grandfather passes, it would be totally okay for you to do whatever you want with the money. I wish you all the best.

  3. NightOwlEye February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    The money is a gift, which means it’s yours to do what you want with it when you have it. If you want to pay off your 210k of loans and distribute the rest evenly among your generation or your parent’s generation or whatever, or even just divide it from the beginning, you’re welcome to do that.

  4. StandupJetskier February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    This is his will and gift. He has made a smart choice, to not forestall what will occur, and not make his last days as a pincushion with yet another “procedure” to look forward to. Be as good to him as possible (not a new thing for OP) and make his last days as best as can be. When he passes, respect his decision, and realize the money is a gift, a freedom, a leg – up, which is what he intends. You’ll spend some time looking for a “returns” window. It doesn’t exist. The money may amplify any rift you have if one of the folks is a n’er do well, but GP has his reasons…..

  5. TimProbable February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    He said ‘take my house, clear your debt and buy a house’, he didn’t say ‘and then never do anything for any other member of our family with the remainder’.

    You don’t even have to do THAT part, but he’s of sound mind, and he’s choosing to give you this gift. **You** choose what to do with it once it’s gifted. Not because you feel guilty about what he chose to do with his possessions, but because you want to feel good about what you do with yours.

  6. Auri15 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Your grandpa is dying, don’t cause conflict with him. He left you a good amount of money to help you pay off your debts and have a bonus.

    You don’t know what he’ll be giving to the others. Maybe he has helped the rest of the family over the years.

    Just… don’t start this conflict now man, enjoy his company while you can.

    If you’re feeling so guilty maybe you could separate the money into emergency account for your family, as in, if someone’s going through a tough time(which always happens) you have a separate amount of money to help. If it’s not entirely used you can set up something for your siblings/nephews college or whatever.

    Don’t feel bad, it’s your grandpa decision and he had time to think about it. People may feel angry? Yes. But that always happen. Maybe he’ll give some family heirloom to your siblings or something witha emotional connection to them, you don’t know.

  7. hvh_19 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    The most important thing right now is respecting your grandfathers wish to quietly live out the rest of his days, he doesn’t need drama of his will to deal with.

    You can deal with that at a later date, and when it comes to that if you’re close with your dad, then just consult with him and figure out the best course of action. Whether that be fulfilling his wishes or not.

    One thing I would add, you may be earning a lot in a few years, but that much student debt is a huge burden to you and your young family. I’d probably get that covered at least, as it will relieve a huge burden.

  8. protonophore February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    I think you should respect his wishes and pay off your debts and buy a starter home. With the remaining money, you could use it as an initial investment to start up a fund for the next generation of your family. You say yourself that you’ll be earning a lot soon enough, so no-one would question you financially helping out your children or nieces and nephews if they need it.

  9. Levelupfp February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    I know it’s odd to say, but you may not want to count on what he said being accurate. It’s happened many times when someone intended to make a bequest, but never gets around to it.

    Most likely you will and at least he has given you a heads up. Make sure you seek professional guidance. There could be major tax implications if you receive the inheritance but then gift it to other family members. An attorney, CPA, of CFP will be able to plan out the various implications.

  10. Elmeee_B February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Is there a particular reason he may want this on the down low? Does he expect some kind of fallout if your family found out? Does someone else in the family expect to receive the house (even if not deserved but people have odd ideas)?

    Usually, you only keep something like this a secret because you know it would cause conflict. Expect as such when he passes and the will is revealed. You might see a nasty side of your family; people claiming it doesn’t belong to you, that the money should be split between X and and Z when you sell it, that you don’t deserve it, that you coerced him into having him put you in his will, etc. I’m not saying this is a given, but when it comes to money and what people feel they rightly expect / deserve you can see some pretty terrible sides of people.

    I hope it goes well for you – but I would be prepared for this scenario and have a plan ready for when it does.

    My condolences about your grandfather. But think about it yourself – if you were in his position, would you not pass on one of your greatest assets to one of your favorite people because you feared other people’s reactions? No, you would want them to enjoy it because they were a significant person of interest in your life. If you really feel that strongly about it, use the money to pay off your debts then donate the rest (if it’s causing conflict). Don’t distribute it amongst your family. People who argue about money will never be happy with the result unless they get everything they want and then some.

  11. Linden_123 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    There’s no question you should accede to your grandfather’s wishes in this – it’s a gift to you, if he does do it, but forget about it until the time comes and enjoy his company for now. (Edit: well, you could always say no at the will reading, but there’s no reason you should.)

    Afterwards, if you still feel the same, you could always look into some kind of small sponsorship scheme for struggling med students. There’s bound to be one or two poorer students who you end up mentoring who want to study medicine for the good of it rather than the future earnings, but might have (eg) a temporary cash-flow problem with some basic living expenses or cost of text books as a barrier. These schemes must already exist, for sure, on varying levels of regulation and scope.

    Only a thought, but it could be a way to ‘pay forward’ your grandfather’s generosity. Not that you have to, by any means. Wishing you many more happy times with grandfather. x

  12. Captain-Tac February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    This is one of those rare cases where it’s best to obey your grandfather’s wishes to the letter, zero deviation. I’m sure he sees it as the best choice for him to go out on.

  13. jessie_monster February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    The good news there is no time limit. Take your time with your decisions.

  14. throwaway03249328023 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    That is very nice of you, but I think your grandfather feels a personal connection to you given that he is also a physician and is very proud of your accomplishment.

    You should respect his last wishes and keep this in confidence. After he passes, you can donate to charity or start a trust for other members of your family if you wish.

  15. cmcg1227 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Here’s what I would do. When get dies, sell the house and take the money. Pay off your student loans. Purchase a reasonable home – one that is well-built and will last. Invest the remainder for a while while you then decide your next move.

    Depending on what the rest of your family receives, you can then decide what to do. Perhaps you can split the rest of the money between you and your siblings and also your cousins and have the money be used for college funds for all of their children?

    Alternatively, maybe you’ll find out that your other family members received plenty of money, and there are better uses for the remainder of your inheritance. You could donate it, or start a foundation? Or, just continue to invest and have something to leave to your own children.

  16. FerociousCourage February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Enjoy what time you have left with him. Work on your bedside manner. Learn all you can about death and dying from him. Be present. Hold his hand. Ask questions. Let him know you love and respect him.

    His lessons will help you be a better and more empathetic physician, husband, father, and friend.

    Then let the trustee and executor do their jobs. Taxes Taxes Taxes + Legal Fees will substantially reduce your inheritance. If you listen to him now you will do the right thing with the remaining money later.


  17. bajatacos78 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Your grandpa is doing what he can to maintain dignity and autonomy in his final days. He is choosing to do something generous for you because he knows you have worked very hard, have a young family, and because he feels a special connection to you. Give him the respect of honoring his wishes. Once he is no longer here, just handle it all discreetly, find ways to be generous with your family, and keep your grandpa’s kindness in your thoughts.

  18. bahhamburger February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    It’s because you’re both doctors. You’re the bit of him that will live on after he passes that he felt defined him. I’m sure anyone could understand how meaningful that is. He probably had to sacrifice a lot during his career and he knows you’ll have to do the same.

  19. tommycahil1995 February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    After you grandfather passed couldn’t you take the 200k from the money and divide the rest among his children? If you want to be fair – just say you grandfather want to pay of you student loan

  20. LeBronzeFlamez February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    I think it depends on how your family is, I guess you are writing this because you expect a fall back of some sort. Which you should, because this is a clasic to split up a family.

    If you are close with your father and his siblings and you know they are good people, I would consider giving them a cut after you paid debts and have enough for a down payment. The risk here is that some people will always be unhappy with what they get, so only do this if you know they will be grateful.

    If your relationship is not that good with them snd you know they are not the best people I would consider giving a donation to a charity that both you and your grand like.

    It is a gift, also dont obsess to much about it before it happens. Because it is money there will most likely be some arguments, make a plan and brace yourself. You can do whatever you want with a gift. Best of luck

  21. romansapprentice February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    1) Pay off your loans.

    2) But a starter home.

    3) Pay off the debts of your other family members?

  22. vierolyn February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    You say that you’ve always been extremely close.

    You should be able to talk to him. You don’t have to involve the rest of the family. You are having a problem and are looking for guidance / advice from your grandfather.

    Both of you will most likely see each other’s points and are capable of finding a solution.

  23. Cyprith February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Inheriting a 1.3 million dollar house is going to be a LOT in taxes. Your grandfather might want to get you put on the title of the house *now*, so that when he passes you won’t be technically *inheriting* it since as far as legality is concerned, it’ll already be your house. Or get it set up in a trust for you. Inheritance taxes are super bullshit.

  24. baltimojane February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    My dad is currently not doing well. We don’t know how much time we’ve got. One thing I know for certain is that we need to respect his decisions. Right now I’d like him to maybe make some decisions that could prolong his life but if that’s not what he wants, I’m going to respect that, painful as it is. Your grandfather has made his decision. It’s what he wants. The only thing you can do is respect it. He wants to know you’re taken care of (just like my dad right now is worrying about everyone else). Don’t feel bad about taking the money and putting his mind at ease.

  25. flowers4u February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    I would go with him to talk to a lawyer. This stuff gets extremely messy. It’s happened to me twice. What kind of person is your dad? My parents were left money but in turn just split it with the kids since they have enough.

    I’m actually no longer speaking with my brother due to another situation with my dad. If it’s not done correctly ugliness in people will come out.

  26. chewiechihuahua February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    You don’t have to brag or bring it to everyone’s attention. Frankly it’s nobody else’s business except you and the executor of his estate. If you have family members who may cause conflict over money they were or weren’t left, then it sounds like your grandfather was wise not to leave it with them. It wasn’t your decision to be the beneficiary, nor would it be appropriate for you to decline the money. Money can really change people and make people do horrible things, and you can’t control them anyway.

    You should try your best to feel or express gratitude for this gift your grandfather wants to leave you. It will feel weird, and you’ll go through many different emotions when the time comes (been through similar with my dad). You will always wish you had the person instead of the money, but when it comes to taking something someone has left you in their will, it is not the time to be bashful about accepting the gift. You’ll be honoring your grandfather by respecting his last wishes and doing what I am sure he knows you’ll do with that money.

  27. mrsdorne February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Are there other grandchildren? Honestly I’d divide the money evenly. I’d be pissed if I knew my cousin got over a million and I got nothing at all.

  28. abitoftheineffable February 13, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    I would not accept it and graciously decline and ask for a fairer share. Your siblings will probably resent you for the money. You do not need the money, but it would help, and you are super close to him; so ask for him to give you more than the other grandchildren, but not so much.

    I think it is fine to take it but does not feel right, and it is better by far to be generous to your own family especially given your confidence in repaying your loans.

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