The Moneyist: ‘I’m getting the short end of the stick’: My parents want to split their estate with their grandkids — but I don’t have kids


Dear Quentin,

My mother has stated that when she and my father pass away, they’d like for my three siblings and I to split any inheritance four equal ways. She has also stated that she would want the grandchildren to get something too. I am single and childless, as I intend to continue to be. 

At this point, all of my siblings have offspring totaling seven grandchildren, with more planned on the way. To me, it seems more fair to split the inheritance four ways, and then to state in the will that each parent/sibling give an amount my mother and father want each grandchild to receive.

My mother thinks she would rather just give each grandchild their amount and then split what remains between her four children. It seems like I’m getting the short end of the stick with each new grandchild born. Am I splitting hairs/heirs, or do I have a point? 

Yes, I realize my parents have the final say with their own affairs and will ultimately respect their wishes. It’s just yet another instance of the single person being expected to give up more, while everyone else takes more — these are ideals I’ve had to contend with my whole life.

Single Daughter

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Single,

I agree with both your sentiments: Yes, it’s the ultimate single supplement for childless children of parents who adore their grandchildren, and want to gift them a sizable portion of their estate. And yes, again, it’s their money, and you can cry if you want to. It’s a hard place to be: Watching your siblings have children, all the while knowing that your own inheritance is shrinking with each gender-reveal party.

So what can you do? Don’t tell your parents what you think they should do. That may only harden their resolve. Instead, tell them how that makes you feel: As a single daughter with no children, you feel less seen and less important as their estate is split multiple ways, and as your inheritance shrinks. (Note: It’s not your inheritance that is being split, as it only belongs to you when it’s in your bank account.)

There are many ways grandparents can invest in their grandchildren’s future, including with 529 accounts so they can save for college. They can make annual gifts to 529 accounts, although the maximum amount allowable varies by state. Similarly, they can gift a certain amount to their children over their lifetime to help with a down payment on a house, a new car or further education.

The good news is that you have this information now. Proceed apace as if your parents’ estate will be split 10 ways, like a birthday cake at a party with too many guests. That way, you won’t be reliant on a larger inheritance, and you can work hard and save for retirement.

There’s one thing that’s even tastier than a large slice of birthday cake covered in rainbow sprinkles, and that’s financial independence.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

‘I just don’t trust my sister’: How do I gift money to my nieces without their mother having access to it?
We’re getting married and have a baby on the way. My wife has offered to pay off my $10,000 student debt and $7,500 car loan
I have three children. I quitclaimed my house to my most responsible son. Now he has blocked my calls
My brother-in-law died, leaving his house in a mess. His landlord wants me to repaint and replace the carpet. What should we do?

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