Gransnet forums

refusing a gift

(75 Posts)
muffinthemoo Mon 14-May-18 18:54:30

My in laws are retired and well off financially. They saved very well for retirement and have earned a good standard of living.

We are moving house shortly and they have offered us a very generous ‘housewarming’ gift of five thousand pounds. We are moving to a much bigger home (growing family) and will only be furnishing the bedrooms for a while as we don’t currently have anything else. (We have a table to eat at and an old couch and will be takng those so we are not short of anything essential.)

I have privately told my husband I feel very uncomfortable accepting this gift. We planned this move carefully and can afford all the expenses without being very short of money. We knew we wouldn’t be furnishing a great big house straight away. We won’t be redecorating for a while anyway as we are having another baby just after the move and we already have toddlers.

My husband is worried about the expense of the move and the new baby and very much wants to accept the gift.

I feel uncomfortable with it because although currently our relationship with them is okay we are not close. We see them most weeks but we never ask them to babysit or look after kids because we don’t need childcare. We are okay with the relationship as is and weren’t planning to change that after the move.

It seems like a big gift to take from anyone, especially if you are not close. I just feel unhappy taking it. They have loaned us money many years ago at a credit card rate of interest. We did really need it then (unexpected illness) and were grateful but the high compound interest made it a bit difficult to pay off and we felt pretty bad about owing them money. There were some pretty awkward conversations over the period even though we paid it off as fast as possible and sold things to make the payments. I’m not moaning about that, we owed them the money and were duty bound to pay it off as fast as possible. It just made a number of birthdays, Xmas etc really awkward as it was brought up in front of aunts, uncles, etc.

I just have felt a lot better not having financial entanglements with them since then and I don’t know how I feel about being approached with money again. I know they can ‘afford’ it but we are fine money wise and I would just rather not. They are after all retired people with fixed income streams and a fixed amount of capital. I also feel worried that we might be asked to pay it back but that’s probably not the case. I just worry because it was hard the last time.

Husband feels it is his parents so his decision. He also feels that as his brother accepted a similar gift last year he is ‘entitled’ to accept it. I don’t feel the same but these things are handled differently in my family so I don’t want to get into making comparisons.

I wouldn’t take any money from my own parents in these circumstances but every family is different.

AIBU to have reservations? What do you think we should do? I have quietly reached out to some trusted friends and they all say not to take it. I post on some other boards about stuff in my own family and they all say not to take it.

I suppose it’s my husband’s decision, right? I don’t think he would tell me if he accepted it privately anyway.

Is this something you would expect an adult child to refuse? It really is a lot of money.

kittylester Mon 14-May-18 19:02:32

I think it would be rude and churlish to turn it down. Just be grateful.

sodapop Mon 14-May-18 19:11:44

Difficult one, I realise you do not want to feel beholden to your in laws especially after the issues around a previous loan. However they are your husband's parents and have made a similar gift to your brother in law. I would talk to your husband and get him to ensure the gift comes without strings then accept gratefully. You will need money for children's rooms and the new baby, its not like you are frittering it away on riotous living.
Enjoy your new home and family.

Jalima1108 Mon 14-May-18 19:16:44

Is this something you would expect an adult child to refuse? It really is a lot of money.
No, it is not something I would expect an adult child to refuse and I would be upset if they did rebuff my generosity.

However, we're not in the position to test the reactions of our DC.

Jalima1108 Mon 14-May-18 19:22:51

Would you feel the same about a legacy from them? Perhaps they want to give you the money and know that it will help and that you will enjoy it whilst they are still alive.

I also feel worried that we might be asked to pay it back but that’s probably not the case. I just worry because it was hard the last time.
Ask your DH to establish that this is indeed a gift (which could have tax implications) and not a loan.

Besstwishes Mon 14-May-18 19:24:33

I think it’s a lovely gesture, they have gifted money to the other sibling and are doing the same for you, presumably under the 7 year rule. We gift money to our AC and we give equally.

However, if you are that unhappy about it, start a savings account for the baby.

M0nica Mon 14-May-18 19:25:36

I am with Jalima. We are quite comfortably off and can afford to do what your PiL have done and indeed have done something similar when DC were moving house. I would be deeply upset if the offer was turned down. We gave it without any strings attached.

It may sound contradictory but may I say, however, how nice it is to hear someone having reservations about accepting money from parents for the best of reasons. We have so many threads started by parents whose children feel they have a right to suck them dry and then demand more. To find an example of the opposite is very pleasant.
You must be a very nice person.

Luckygirl Mon 14-May-18 19:29:09

Don't turn it down - they wish to be helpful. I have given my DDs more than that and their OH's did not object! Let them have the pleasure of seeing you enjoy the money.

Honestly - my view is that we can't take the money with us when we die - and we would rather be around to see it enjoyed. I am not sure what you are worrying about.

Jalima1108 Mon 14-May-18 19:30:04

However, if you are that unhappy about it, start a savings account for the baby.
That's a good idea

muffinthemoo Mon 14-May-18 19:37:49

Thanks for the advice.

I am a bit worried about strings, I admit. DH tends to give things with the expectation of something ‘back’ and he says he gets that from them.

I understood where we stood with the old loan, but I don’t understand what if anything is expected back for this gift. We see them a fair bit but like I say, we’re not close. DH doesn’t like how they talk about his business to the aunts and uncles and doesn’t really like to spend time with them. But we have the only grandkids so we do see them pretty often. I try to keep my head down.

I suppose my worry is do they expect to come over our new house a lot if they give us this money? I know DH won’t have that but I don’t think its ok to just take someone’s money and then turn around and tell them to get lost. They wouldn’t see us at our home for a long time because we lived together before we married and they disapproved so refused invitations etc. DH was really hurt by this and has discouraged them coming over ever since.

They did offer us money when the other babies were born but they said it was conditional on us not making a particular decision about future schools. DH refused the gift on that basis.

I know refusing this gift does come off as rude, but is it more rude to take it and then refuse any request that comes after it? I manage fine with the kids and I don’t need or particularly want babysitting at this point with the new one coming and a new house, it feels like a lot of upheaval for the other two as it is.

They did buy us garden furniture for the house we’re selling a few years ago but said since they were paying they should get to pick. I didn’t feel this was unfair but in our new house I would really like to pick the furniture so I wouldn’t like them to pick that if that’s what they are paying for.

janeainsworth Mon 14-May-18 19:39:57

muffin the thing about your OP that disturbs me is the history of them lending you money at credit card rates in the past. I can’t imagine lending my adult children money and getting them to pay greater interest rates than I would get from a bank. Just for the record, the only loan we have made was to DS to fund a postgraduate degree, and that was interest free.

Like your PiL’s, we are comfortably off and live well within our means.
We do give gifts to our DS and DDs, but they all get exactly the same at exactly the same time. What they do with it is entirely up to them. They can put it into DGC’s college funds, they can buy furniture, they can put it in their own pension funds, or they can go on holiday. I don’t care what they do because I know they are all responsible with money.
I enjoy passing money on to them now, and feel very privileged to be able to do so, rather than waiting till I’m deadgrin

In your position, I would ascertain that this is indeed a gift and not a loan.
If it’s a gift, accept it with a good grace.
I understand your feelings of wariness, and I don’t think it would be churlish to refuse, but I do think you’d be cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Hope that helps.

Jalima1108 Mon 14-May-18 19:43:10

I think a gift should be unconditional
If one of my DC needed a house deposit then spent it on a trip round the world I would be upset - but then they would not be able to complain about the cost of renting!

I had a work colleague once who used to give things away but then would ask for the item back a few weeks later. Very odd behaviour.

janeainsworth Mon 14-May-18 19:45:00

Crossed posts muffin.
Your references to them trying to influence your choice of children’s schools, and choosing your garden furniture.......words fail me.
I can understand your reluctance, but it strikes me that they would probably try to control you even without financial inducements.
Take the money and then stand firm.
Gifts shouldn’t come with conditions.

Grannyknot Mon 14-May-18 19:46:28

All you have to do with a gift, is to accept it. It's a gift. Accept it with thanks...

Cherrytree59 Mon 14-May-18 19:47:50

Hello muffinthemoo
Are you concerned that your in-laws gift will come with strings attached?

We have given financial help to our Children and their families

My DH and I said that it was nice to help whilst we were still alive.
They would have hopefully inherited it anyway but who knows what around the corner.
This way we were sure they had help when they needed it most.
Your in-laws may feel the same.

muffinthemoo Mon 14-May-18 19:50:14

Thanks again.

I keep out of DH’s relationship with them as much as possible, but I feel like if it affects both of us I need to know where I stand.

I think I probably need to talk to him about this again. Not the easiest discussion sad

I feel difficult about saying to him not to accept money because I don’t work so he’s the only provider. He works really hard and I don’t want him put under more strain because of me.

Nannarose Mon 14-May-18 20:08:41

Oh dear, I really see why you feel uncomfortable. Like many older people, we like to give gifts to our children and their family, but make this in no way conditional.
I do find their behaviour odd, and in your shoes I would feel the same.
However, I think that maybe you need to step back and let your DH handle it. He will have a better idea of how to handle them. Ensure that he is clear about your reservations and ask him to make sure that the gift is 'unconditional'.
Whilst I know we often talk about repeating patterns of behaviour, your in-laws may have learned from their past mistakes, and be trying to make amends. It would be a shame to rebuff them.
If you do accept, I would make a bit of a deal of inviting them over 'to see the .........that we bought with your kind gift'. That should help keep the boundary clear about visits.

muffinthemoo Mon 14-May-18 20:12:29

Nanna, that’s a really good idea and I will bring that up with him.

maryeliza54 Mon 14-May-18 20:19:51

Oh dear - I started off thinking you were BU but when I read the comment about schools and the garden furniture I could see why you are concerned. And then not approving of your living together. Lots of alarm bells ringing here - they’ve sort of manipulated you into a really difficult situation and it would be awful if it drove a wedge between you and DH. How about just saving it for the moment until you see how it all pans out

BlueBelle Mon 14-May-18 20:25:48

If you don’t want to accept it and your husband does then let him accept it as HIS gift (as was his brothers gift) then he can chose what he does with it either spend it on the home and the family or himself (if he wanted) and take it from there
I think it would be harsh and unfriendly to not accept it BUT definitely no conditions that’s unfair too, a gift is a gift so if your husband comes back and says they ll give us the money if we do so and so .... no way

muffinthemoo Mon 14-May-18 20:29:31

The thing about the schools wasn’t outlandish: DH had told them that we were doing financial planning to send the kids to fee paying schools.

My in laws are adamantly opposed to those so stated it was a conditioning of the money part of the christening gift that we not send them to a fee paying school.

DH told them he would not cash the cheque. I sent a thank-you note for the Bible that accompanied it as I wanted to keep a memento for the kids from their grandparents.

I supported DH’s decision. I feel they are entitled to their opinion but it felt like taking money under false pretences and I didn’t like that at all.

I felt it was too rude to send the garden furniture back and at the end of the day it’s in the garden.

I don’t want to make them sound bad! I just am not used to big gifts from family so this is maybe all on me.

If DH accepts the money I will of course thank them appropriately. Dinner possibly? A card or letter?

Soupy Mon 14-May-18 20:52:28

Ah - the christening gift of a bible to my mind matches in with them not liking you living together before you were married.

Like you, I would be very wary of a gift from these in laws as I would always feel it came with strings attached.

M0nica Mon 14-May-18 21:00:29

The extended information you have given. Is making me have doubts as well. It does seem that your DH's parents give money with strings attached, which is something I think most of us would never do.

We have occasionally given DS small sums of money for something specific and the specific hasn't happened and while DH and I may have a mutter to each other, we would never take the matter up with DS, we just roll our eyes heavenwards and say 'typical' and leave it at that. I have also loaned money, which has always been paid back, but any loan is interest free.

I wonder whether they are making this offer because neither you nor your DH are prepared to let them control you or your lives and they are hoping to get you back under control by making an offer they think will be too good to refuse at a time when it could be really useful.

I understand your caution.

notanan2 Mon 14-May-18 21:14:53

YOU can refuse the gift, but you have no right to tell your DH to refuse it. Have it paid into an account thats just in his name if youre so uncomfortable with it!

TBH it sounds like you just dont want to owe them any debt if gratitude!

notanan2 Mon 14-May-18 21:18:36

if you think they might tag on conditions later, let it sit unspent in your dh's saving account for a while. That gives them the benefit of the doubt and you a way to undo it if they end up using it against you!