Posted by: Indecisive | 2020/05/10

Do I help my family?

Hi, I am a widow with three children at university. I received a huge insurance payout when my husband passed away in 2015. I do not regard the money as mine as I was not an easy partner during the last five years due to a failing business and my own childhood issues. I am mainly managing the money on behalf of the kids and using it for their expenses. I am the middle child of three and we are nowhere close - not in distance or emotionally. Both my brothers are battling - I do give them money and in the past lent them money but seldom even get the agreed upon interest back. I am talking about R100 000. They don't take me serious as a bank and often don't even say thank you for the money that I deposit in their accounts. The one has no provision for retirement, the bank wants to take his house away, his car is broken etc. his wife is working 3 jobs and the kids are anxious, binge drink and generally socially akward. He earned huge amounts of money during his life and lived a very luxurious life, saved nothing but to assisted my younger brother and mother. He literally disabled my younger brother as he took care of all his financial woes and had to look after my mother as he almost bankcrupted her in his late twenties. My younger brother is now taking responsibility for himself and is on even keel and live within his means with a happy home life and few material things. I do have a very good pension fund and a few million in investments, paid for home and vehicle. The financial advisor advised against helping but said that the occasional few thousand is OK to give as it can buy food and electricity. Covid 19 has blown this whole issue wide open as neither he nor his wife can work and the situation is dire. I don't want to lie on my death bed realising I was a fool or a stingy bastard. Please give me an opinion.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2020/05/14

Hello Indecisive.
The insurance payout was to you, so it's your money. And I presume you can do with it as you wish. You would not be stingy to spend it entirely as you please, and if you;re wise, you should make full provision for your own future and old age. It doesn't sound as though any of the rest of the selfish and greedy bunch would do anything to help you. 
Don't allow any guilt you may feel about how unpleasantly you may have behaved in the past when under great stress.  That was between you and your late husband.  It does not mean you owe anything to others who haven't bothered to make proper provision for themselves. Sounds like your younger brother is managing things well now. Great.
Your brothers seem to be the problem, wasteful and not having bothered to have the prudence to provide for themselves.  That's not your fault.  Yes, the lockdown, etc may make it more difficult for them : they should explore what they might be entitled to from the state in current emergency provisions. Maybe social services can advise them about their options.
Continue to discuss things with your financial advisor.  Maybe you shouldn't make further "loans" to them, when they don't respect it, unless they do respect you and sign proper legal undertakings to pay the loans back.  But if they have left themselves with no resources, you may know they will not be able to pay you back, so loans would not be loans.
Don't encourage them to assume you will simply blindly sponsor them.  If you want to occasionally give them some money as a gift and you can afford to do so,  then if you have reasons to fear they will waste it, maybe think of not giving them any cash, but perhaps paying for rent, or some other specific expense directly to whoever they owe that money to, rather than in the form of cash they can use as they please. 
What do other readers think ?  Surely during Lockdown you have more than enough time on your hands to send in your own thoughts on the issues raised in this forum ?

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