Hey! You’re Robbing My Inheritance!

I meet people all of the time who “have this brother” or “have this sister” who is a complete and utter financial failure – and their parents continually bail them out.   I’m grateful that this has not been a problem in my family, but it is amazing how many families HAVE experienced this situation!

Here are some statements I have heard:

  • My sister has run up her credit cards at least three times, but my parents keep bailing her out.   It is so frustrating!
  • My brother refuses to get a job and constantly hits up our parents for money.   It is annoying!
  • My brother never buys clothing for his kids because he knows that our parents will take care of it.   Unbelievable!

While it is indeed annoying and frustrating, it could also be called something else – THEFT.

Let’s think about this in a step-by-step logical order.

  1. Parents usually leave all or most of their assets as an inheritance for their children (Prov 13:22)
  2. If a sibling has been continually tapping mom and dad for money, there is less inheritance to distribute
  3. Parents usually divide the assets equally among each of their children
  4. This means that the financially-misbehaving sibling receives the same amount of inheritance as the siblings who did not continually tap mom and dad for money

NET EFFECT: The children who behaved well financially are robbed of some of their inheritance by their financially-misbehaving sibling.

Have you ever looked at it this way?   Have you experienced this in your own family?

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  1. DELAINE MURRAY on May 31, 2011 at 6:41 am

    I would suggest that there is always another side to this ageless complaint. One must know the complete story in order to make the judgement that the inheritance was robbed. There is an incredible book by Francis Chan – “The Prodigal God” that really puts the story of the “lost son” into a very inciteful and deeper level. I hope that all who struggle with this as children or parents would read first God’s Word in Luke 15:11-32 and then Chan’s book.

  2. Ben Branam on May 31, 2011 at 7:16 am

    I think that is putting too much work into something that isn’t yours. While it has become tradition to split the inheritance it doesn’t mean my parents money belongs to me. It’s a great gift.

    I just had this discussion with my grandmother and I honored her by talking with her to find out what her final wishes where and if her will was up to date.

    If she gave all her money to her favorite charity it wouldn’t bother me, because it’s not my money! It’s her’s and God’s.

  3. Michael B on May 31, 2011 at 8:02 am

    I would be careful calling this type of circumstances “theft”. Children should not be considering or living “as if” mom and dad are going to leave them with a large inheritance. In most cases, inheritance money is gone within a brief amount of time, and it can even be a detriment to one’s financial maturity. Furthermore, if the parents decide to give money to one sibling, for whatever the reason, that’s their decision. Irresponsibility with one’s finances should never be condoned (and in your example enabled) in my opinion; however, to look at something that isn’t yours and blame your sibling for its loss seems to be what you’re suggesting. I doubt there is biblical support for that argument.

  4. Pam G on May 31, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I think this should be of concern to the other children only if the parents are being taken advantage of to such an extent that they are jeopardizing their own financial stability. Then I think it’s one’s prerogative to step in to protect one’s parents. I agree with the comments above that the parents have the right to spend their money as they choose, but if any of the other children are feeling resentment about it, they should discuss it with their parents.

  5. Your Neighbor - BCox on May 31, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Coming from a family where I have never expected to see an inheritance, I tend to have a “make my own inheritance” attitude. But in light of the topic and above comments I draw some small reference from the parable of the workers. While it does not go hand in hand exactly, I love what the land owner says in Matt 20:15, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” I learned from Chan’s book Crazy Love that I am so much more blessed than the general population of the earth that it is shameful. Many good points have been brought up and the conversation could still go 10 different ways, this is an interesting topic to think about. I think ultimately Paul nailed it though when he said, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

  6. Joseph Sangl on May 31, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Great conversation everyone!

    Prov 13:22 says that “a good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.” To me, this means that every parent should focus on positioning their child(ren) to launch from another level than which they started. It is certainly my goal to do this for my children!

    I would also challenge every person to go to BibleGateway.com and search the word “inheritance”. It appears to me that God was VERY INTERESTED in inheritances being passed on!

    That being said, I am also of the mindset that I am not entitled to a dime of my parent’s stuff as they have worked HARD to build it up. It has been great to see them be able to have a great retirement and to reap some benefits from years of effort! Anything that they choose to bless us would be just that – a blessing. Definitely not an entitlement!!!

    Great conversation!

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