Author Topic: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues  (Read 5459 times)

Kepler

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So...  I'm having an embarrassing first world problem here, and hoped to bounce some ideas around...

First some context for why I'm having trouble thinking this situation through: I'm from a fairly rough background - foster kid, lived in lots of different homes growing up, super-determined to get to university, won full scholarships all the way through to a PhD, was homeless for extended periods twice during my studies - once because my biological mother called up my Uni and convinced them to return to her funds I had stashed with them to cover room and board for the next year, and again because an employer stiffed me out of a substantial amount of pay.  I lived for a really long time off around $10K a year, working low-paid NGO jobs, because I wasn't interested in standard of living beyond basic food and shelter. 

Then had a disaster of a relationship with a very spendy guy who, by the end, managed to leave me with almost $50K in debt clandestinely taken out in my name.  At that point, I took a job I knew I'd hate, but that was both very secure and very highly compensated, paid the debt off in a bit over two years, met my current partner, saved up for maternity leave, ended the maternity leave period with money to spare, and just kept saving, a bit puzzled what to do with the money building up... And found this website when it hit the Washington Post and only then realised it was probably viable for me to leave work earlier than 65...  This back history means I'm getting a really late start compared to many around here, but am on track to retiring in 10 years at the latest, making very pessimistic assumptions about my and my partner's future earnings.

Okay, here's the first world problem bit...  My partner is not at all spendy (although also not good at monitoring and planning for expenses, so I do that).  He is, however, from a much more privileged background, which means I'm now needing to shift from, say, worrying about family who, given a chance, will literally steal my money, to worrying about family offering to just give vast sums....  It's sort of doing my head in...

The immediate issue is a trust set up by a much-loved grandparent who passed away in the 90s.  The trust was set up to fund undergraduate degrees for all the grandkids.  My partner was the eldest; the youngest has just finished their study.  We had some sense that the remaining funds in the trust would, at that point, be divided amongst the grandchildren, but we didn't know how much that would be.  Turns out it's quite a bit larger than we would have thought - about 30,000 for each grandchild. 

The dilemma here is that we've been asked how we want the funds remitted.  Apparently, the trust can remit the funds over ten years, and avoid all capital gains tax; or it can remit them over five years, or three years, with progressively larger capital gains penalties.  The problem is, whatever it does, it needs to do for everyone: we can't individually choose different options.  We don't need this money, so it makes most sense to us for it to be dispensed to minimise taxes.  This isn't the view of the other grandkids, who do have immediate use for the funds.  We're planning to get out of the way on this one - it's not as though any of us earned this, so we're not going to get in the way of people who want to claim the funds sooner, at a penalty. 

The more unexpected and complicated issue is that, apparently, on the dissolution of this trust, additional inheritances are also being distributed to the parents.  I don't believe anyone knew this would happen (I think the funds were held in reserve in case the education trust needed to be topped up), and my partner's parents would like to pass this unexpected money directly to their two children.  It sounds like this would amount to something like 45,000 to each child.

Okay, so here's where it gets tricky.  My partner's mother is a stickler for giving absolutely identically to her children.  So, if we don't accept the money, my partner's sibling won't receive anything either.  However, my partner's father is a bit distrustful about whether the kids will put the money to good use, so he's insisting that it only be paid out in the form of a contribution to a mortgage or house purchase.

My partner's sibling is in the UK, has recently purchased a house and is spending huge amounts remodelling it: it will make a big difference to them to receive these funds.

We're in Australia.  I haven't ever been able to shake the feeling that it doesn't make sense to buy here.  Renting seems a better 'deal'.  We do have First Home Saver Accounts, because not having those leaves money on the table (for non-Aussies, there is a government match for funds deposited in these), but we hadn't been sure we would use this until actually retired, or until the market deflated a bit.

Also, we had been trying to keep a reasonable amount of cash in liquid form in case we need to go back to the UK (for those not following UK immigration policy at the moment, it's hard now for non-EU partners to migrate unless they have a bucket of money or the UK partner goes over first to establish a six month employment track record in the UK at a certain income level).  Buying a property to live in here, even with such a huge gift, would tie up our liquid cash and make it difficult to pool up money to meet the immigration threshold if we need to...

In addition, my partner has just started a PhD, which will finish in a few years.  We had wanted to be open to the possibility of moving at that point, if he receives a decent job offer in another state or overseas.  If we buy a property here now, we could end up needing to sell it within four years...

And, finally, my partner's father will likely be retiring in a few years, and we're a bit worried about how they'll go.  They are fairly well off, and my partner's mother is very sensible.  His father... Not so much...  We're not clear how that will play out.  If they were just giving us cash, we'd dump it into an investment fund and plan on never touching it until we were certain they wouldn't need it themselves.  My partner is actively worried that his mother is keen to pass this money on to the kids to force his dad to slow down spending by running down their funds faster.  This makes both of us queasy...

So we're trying to work out what to do.  Do we buy an overpriced Australian home that we might need to sell again in a short period of time (they won't put the money toward an investment property - they want it to be a place we'll live, which they can visit)?  Do we decline, and possibly piss off both the sibling and the parents?

This isn't the sort of financial planning I was expecting to need to do...

marty998

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 09:21:01 PM »
This really is an interesting one.

I would always take the money now. Certainty vs uncertainty. Not saying there is any mismanagement in the Trust but even the best of families can blow up over money.

If you are unsure whether to buy a house now, you could always ask for the funds to be placed into a term deposit (as proof that you are not going to blow it).

Age old battle of rent vs buy will never be settled, but I sit firmly on the "buy" side.

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2014, 11:21:50 PM »
Yeah, we had thought about the certainty/uncertainty issue with reference to the portion of the inheritance that can be dispensed over 3, 5 or 10 years.  The tax hit on 3 years is pretty huge; on 5 years, not so bad.  But we don't know in what form the funds are held (it's a bit delicate to ask, but some comments we've heard have made us worry that the whole amount might be in only two companies' stock, which was making us think risk alone would possibly justify pulling the funds out faster, in spite of the capital gains hit).  This will very likely end up decided by other people's preferences - we don't know what those are, but do know we were the only ones who initially said we were fine waiting the whole ten years, so we've assured everyone we're happy to go along with whatever.

The separate, larger sum coming via my partner's parents won't be spread out like this: it'll be given all in one lump sum, directly to a bank, whenever we've bought a property.  There's some pressure on us to buy soon, as we're holding up money to the sibling.  We hadn't even started looking, and had just committed to an 18-month extension of our lease when this was announced. 

The family also has some expectations as to the 'quality' of the property to be purchased with the funds, which will need to be navigated carefully, as, if we do buy, we would want something compact and at the low end of the market - and even that will be fairly pricey...  His father stayed with us several years ago in a massive, very fancy, house we were house sitting for someone else, and described it as 'shabby', before saying he understood why it might be useful for us to stay there while we were 'starting out'.  That place was massively nicer than anything we could afford or would want to buy, and my partner is worried that his parents will want the money spent on something that they will perceive as increasing our living standards.  The reality is, buying will almost certainly put us into something less 'nice' than where we're currently renting - let alone the place we were house sitting.  We're fine with that - but worried they won't be...

I had been wondering whether they'd consider putting the money into the FHSA, since that can't be used for anything other than a house.  But since, in the abstract, that potentially could roll over into super if we hit official retirement age without buying, my partner thinks it won't meet his dad's restrictions...

gooki

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 01:16:48 AM »
There's no harm in asking. Just be honest and let them know your not ready to buy a home now, but don't want to disadvantage the other siblings. Give a few options, and encourage them to come up with alternatives as well.

Annamal

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2014, 01:37:22 AM »
It sounds like you don't strictly need or want your partner's parent's money at the moment, is there any way you could offer your partner's sibling a loan of the money while they're working on renovations?

That way the money is invested in a house but you don't have to put more resources into a house you neither want or need, you maintain family peace and the siblings have more of a margin for error while renovating and the money can potentially be returned to the parents if they wind up needing it and if not you either write the money off as helping a sibling or you get it back when you are ready to buy a house and the Australian market finds its sanity (I'm in New Zealand and segments of our property market seem every bit as insane...I'm also really nervous about putting more into the housing market than I can afford to lose).

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2014, 02:06:52 AM »
That's a really interesting suggestion Annamal - I'll have to raise it with my partner and see what he thinks.  His sibling and sibling's partner are both sensible people with a good work ethic and, while we don't know the details, what should be well-paying, secure jobs.  They spend at a much higher level than we do, but we have no sense they're spending 'beyond their means' in any conventional sense - just not aiming for any sort of early retirement.  We'd have no trouble trusting them with the money - and, if it came to it, it's not as if we'd lose anything we had personally had worked for, if they never paid the amount back...

That said, it would have to be negotiated carefully around his mother's 'strictly equal treatment' ethic.  My partner lost his job at a bank during the financial crisis, and moved back home for a few months while job hunting.  His sibling has told us that, during those months, their mother was showering him with laptops, expensive equipment for his hobby, and other luxuries, to compensate for the fact that he wasn't able to 'benefit' from moving back home...

Gooki - we will also ask whether they'd be comfortable putting money into the FSHA.  It's not the most efficient place to stash a large sum for an extended period, because, even with the concessional tax treatment, it gets a lower interest rate than we could get in a taxable high-interest savings account, let alone the potential returns from an investment.  We've been putting in only the amount needed to get the maximum government match, as this seems most beneficial.  Still, given the choice between losing a bit of investment return, and rushing into a housing purchase in non-ideal circumstances, this may be the most optimal viable option.

lhamo

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2014, 02:14:43 AM »
Why not just go to your partner's parents and put this all on the table like you have for us here.  It doesn't make financial sense for you to buy a home now, and you are planning to be responsible with the money.  If they don't like that and try to attach a whole bunch of strings to the money, as a way of controlling your behavior (which really doesn't need controlling, so that is kind of off right there...) they it probably is not a gift you want to accept anyway.

Somewhat different situation, but several years ago my mom started talking about changing her will.  My husband and I would have been the ones to benefit from the change.  My brother got very upset.  I understood my brother's perspective and IMMEDIATELY told my mom not to change a single thing.  No amount of money is worth damaging family relationships, in my book. 

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 02:55:21 AM »
Hi lhamo - they know quite a lot of this, because I had chatted with my partner's mother about financial management before I realised she would dream up something like this...  :-(  So she knows, for example, that I think the market here is overheated, knows the price range, and knows that we are trying to keep a fairly large amount of money liquid, in case we move back to the UK, as immigration currently requires that unless we want to separate for six months (not ideal with children). 

My guess is that they are thinking they will cover the immigration fund if needed, and that they want to give money to the other sibling now.  My guess is also that they think we're very poor...  As in, they actually know what's in our accounts, because we've been having this discussion.  But we don't have a lot of visible assets and don't appear to consume as expected.  My partner's mother thinks (accurately) that we're not materialistic.  She actually approves of this, but is convinced this means we won't attend sufficiently to essential needs, and that she therefore needs to take care of those for us, which... Just isn't correct.  His father also accurately perceives that we aren't materialistic - and therefore fears we won't have the foggiest idea what to do with a large sum of money, and so need to be protected from blowing everything...  :-P.

If it weren't for our decisions affecting other people, we'd just back away - my partner has had to do this before, to set boundaries.  Aside from eight weeks back home while job hunting in the epicentre of the crisis, he's kept completely independent since Uni.  The idea of maybe convincing them to give all the money to the sibling, who will then gradually pay some back to us, might get around this.  Or maybe a picture perfect bargain property will fall into our laps in the next six months...  :-P

P.S. I should maybe mention, since it hasn't come up previously: we have been budgeting so that, if something happened that we would want to buy, we'll have enough saved for a 20% deposit, closing costs, a repair fund, and some financial cushion - by July this year.  We're on track for that amount - but we just want to be able to buy if we decide to, and were happy to keep renting even after we hit our target.  (Prior to the Washington Post article, I had just been sticking spare cash in super, so we're relatively low on accessible funds, since we've only been trying  to do that a very short time...  This will also be part of why we look 'poor' - we have no debt, and so no debt-financed consumption, and until recently only a minimal emergency fund, since I was dumping excess into retirement accounts.)

« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 03:07:17 AM by Kepler »

RetiredAt63

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2014, 12:26:33 PM »
Re the chunk of money from the parents - There is also a social aspect on your part to this whole issue.  I know when we were grad students that everyone rented, no-one bought, because none of us knew where we would end up after graduation.  Also, your university friends - what are their living circumstances?  If everyone is renting, in smaller housing than you have now, it might make things socially awkward in your circle if your housing got even fancier relative to theirs. These are all aspects that might affect your FIL's thinking. 

The home owner's plan sounds like a good compromise.  Or some other difficult-to-get-at fund that is reinvesting, so that when you do need the money it is there? I gather there is no interest in your husband using the money to cover Ph.D. tuition (if needed)?

Do they stay with you when they visit?  It might be a thought to put them up at a really nice hotel instead, if your FIL values his comforts.

marty998

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2014, 02:02:02 PM »
I thought the FHSA rolls to super after 4 years if you don't buy within that time? Not when you hit retirement age?

But since, in the abstract, that potentially could roll over into super if we hit official retirement age without buying,

travelbug

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2014, 07:55:51 PM »
Is it possible, due to you saying that you may eventually want to move back to the UK, to purchase a house there and rent it out for you to have as an option one day.
We are Australian and agree with you regarding house prices here, we are just not sure what is going to happen. And value for money is just not there.
At least you would have an investment and a tie to your home and keep everyone happy too.
Good luck OP.

TB

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 10:08:08 PM »
I thought the FHSA rolls to super after 4 years if you don't buy within that time? Not when you hit retirement

No, the FHSA can stay open until you hit retirement age - and can even keep getting the government match up to a fairly high value (I want to say around $90,000, but it's indexed and the number probably isn't that even).  The rules have also recently been changed to make it more flexible than it was, since no one was taking these things up, but it's never been the case that you have to take it at four years.

The way it works is that you have to put at least $1000 into the account, in at least four different /financial/ years, to be able to use it for a home deposit.  These don't have to be consecutive financial years.  You can put in as much as you like each year, but the government 17% match only applies to the first $6000 deposited in each financial year (this is indexed, so may change).  You get the tax concession (taxed at the 15% superannuation concessional rate) on whatever interest you earn in the account.  Until your account hits the maximum value (90,000-ish), you can keep putting money in as many years as you like, until you hit a maximum age, at which point it rolls into super.  You can also close the account and roll it into super earlier, if you decide not to use it for a house.

 If you buy a house before you've deposited $1000 in four separate financial years into it, the account is closed to new deposits and government matches.  But you can still roll whatever is in the account into the mortgage of a home that /would/ have qualified for the FHSA program, if you'd bought it after the four financial year rule had been satisfied.  You have to wait, however, until you're at a nominal four financial year point with the FHSA.  So if I open an account in June, put $1000 in it, then buy a house in July, that $1000 just sits there until the fourth financial year rolls around (which is less than four calendar years).  Then I can apply to have the amount applied to the mortgage.  This is a rule change, btw: I believe that previously, if you bought a house 'too soon', the money had to roll over to super.

When we ran the numbers, it didn't make sense to deposit more in one of these accounts than what would attract the maximum government match.  The match only ever applies to new money deposited - not old savings or new interest earnings.  It's a great rate - but you increasingly end up with a bucket of money tied up in the account at relatively low interest, even compared with other Australian savings accounts.  Even factoring in the concessional tax treatment of the interest, we were getting dramatically diminishing returns on stashing money in an FHSA over the long haul - and that's just comparing it with other equally safe savings account instruments.  You'd take an even bigger relative hit if, say, you would put the money into shares - especially fully franked shares.  But you'd also be taking on more risk...

So it's probably more 'worth it', relatively speaking, to pull your money out earlier.  But there's nothing in the rules around the account that forces you to buy at the four-year point.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 10:33:13 PM by Kepler »

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 10:20:33 PM »
Re the chunk of money from the parents - There is also a social aspect on your part to this whole issue.  I know when we were grad students that everyone rented, no-one bought, because none of us knew where we would end up after graduation.  Also, your university friends - what are their living circumstances?  If everyone is renting, in smaller housing than you have now, it might make things socially awkward in your circle if your housing got even fancier relative to theirs. These are all aspects that might affect your FIL's thinking. 

The home owner's plan sounds like a good compromise.  Or some other difficult-to-get-at fund that is reinvesting, so that when you do need the money it is there? I gather there is no interest in your husband using the money to cover Ph.D. tuition (if needed)?

Do they stay with you when they visit?  It might be a thought to put them up at a really nice hotel instead, if your FIL values his comforts.


The social issue doesn't help us, unfortunately: there's a huge ideology around home ownership at the Uni (I have undergraduate students who 'own' homes - gifted by parents generally, but still, and it's something I have to actively manage, socially: colleagues are sort of weirded out that we don't own.  I don't personally mind managing these reactions, but it's certainly not a situation where we can say that no one else owns property).  Part of the issue is that I'm not originally from Australia, and moved out here in a roaring boom.  Renting was the norm where I moved from, the market seemed overheated, and it seemed logical to it out - things have also very mildly been deflating here for a few years, so it's arguably not as irrational to buy.  But I run the numbers, and renting still just looks cheaper...

My partner's PhD is fully funded, with a stipend that, in real terms, is equivalent to his previous job (nominally lower, but untaxed, so a wash on balance).  He'll likely still pick up some paid work in his old role while he's studying (they keep asking but, at the moment, the offers on the table are too extensive to juggle with study - he's haggling for something more part-time, but in a pinch we'll just take the stipend, since having time to research and publish is a better bet, for long-term financial security, than some odds and ends work now.

They do stay with us when they visit - and we're happy to get a nice hotel for them so we can get a more reasonable place if we do purchase.  There will just need to be some... expectations management around that, since, although they're themselves not hugely extravagant - really they live quite modestly given their high resources - anything we would buy will still probably strike them as someplace they couldn't imagine living...

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2014, 10:21:48 PM »
Is it possible, due to you saying that you may eventually want to move back to the UK, to purchase a house there and rent it out for you to have as an option one day.
We are Australian and agree with you regarding house prices here, we are just not sure what is going to happen. And value for money is just not there.
At least you would have an investment and a tie to your home and keep everyone happy too.
Good luck OP.

TB

I find it reassuring that you say this!  Do people look bug-eyed at you when you say it publicly? :-)

On the house in the UK option: I didn't mention this originally because the post was already so long, but this was sort of the original idea.  My partner's family has a flat they were thinking of having assessed, and they would then transfer the flat to us, and its cash equivalent to the others.  We were a bit leery, as it's property we would need to manage from the other side of the planet.  The sibling objected very strongly in this case, worrying the property would increase a lot in value after being gifted (I don't know the property market - if things are very low right now where the flat is, but have bounced back where they are, it could make sense - regardless we don't want to do anything over their objection).
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 10:28:52 PM by Kepler »

markbrynn

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2014, 02:35:11 AM »
First off, I would be very hesitant about buying a house when you want to be open to moving in the next few years. In some cases renting out the house would work, but you can run into a couple of problems: 1) a house that isn't economic as a rental (plenty of those, especially where buying is expensive); 2) a house that slowly loses value over time and becomes an albatross that you can't sell but don't want to live in (because you live on the opposite side of the world). My strong advise is DO NOT buy a house unless you are happy to live in it or are pretty confident about it's long term rental capability. Whether it increases in value in the longer term is less important if one of the two is true.

Second, I really believe in maintaining strong family relations. However, in order to do so, there usually needs to be a good dose of boundary setting and honesty.  The in-laws should be encouraged to help who they want to help in a way that actually helps and stop worrying about absolute fairness. If I were OP, I would get my partner to talk to his parents and strongly encourage them to find another way to pass along the money (or not pass it along at all). Tell them to hold onto it for another 5 years until OP and partner know where they plan on living. Most parents will actually find a way to resolve the problem if you don't make it easy on them by giving in. Make it clear that giving money now to the sibling in the UK is okay with you. If they choose not to, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Do not take blame for other people's weird choices/inflexibility. But keep it friendly at all times. Firm but friendly.

Good luck.

marty998

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2014, 02:52:35 AM »
Thanks for the clarification Kepler. On all accounts it seems to be another of Rudd's hair brained ideas.

I told my brother to open one last June so he could take advantage of the 2 year and 1 day rule and get $4,000 of essentially free money from the long suffering Australian Taxpayer (i.e. me). Good to finally know the full facts on how the damn things work.

https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/banking/savings-accounts/first-home-saver-accounts
http://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/First-home-saver-account/In-detail/Accessing-your-funds/Accessing-your-funds/


Good luck with your dilemma. Nice one to have. Just keep an eye on that exchange rate. Hovering around 52-53p today. One day it might even get back to 33p and us Aussies can get back to whinging about how expensive a trip to London is.

Gray Matter

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2014, 04:53:21 AM »
I didn't mention this originally because the post was already so long, but this was sort of the original idea.  My partner's family has a flat they were thinking of having assessed, and they would then transfer the flat to us, and its cash equivalent to the others.  We were a bit leery, as it's property we would need to manage from the other side of the planet.  The sibling objected very strongly in this case, worrying the property would increase a lot in value after being gifted (I don't know the property market - if things are very low right now where the flat is, but have bounced back where they are, it could make sense - regardless we don't want to do anything over their objection).

This sibling sounds like part of the problem.  It doesn't matter whether the asset appreciates or depreciates after it is gifted, as long as the value of the gifts is the same when they are gifted.  The sibling could take the money and invest it in something (real estate or otherwise) that could appreciate equally or even more.  If they choose to spend the money, that is their choice.  Honestly, it sounds like both the parents (though generous) and the sibling are a bit controlling.

I agree with Markbrynn--it sounds like you need to set boundaries.  And be more blunt with them you have probably been in the past.  We often think we have been more open about things than we have about how we truly feel.  I would sit down with them and say something along the lines of:  we appreciate that you are so generous, here are the reasons we don't want to buy in the Aussie market right now (list them all, big and small), offer some alternatives for where you could put the money that would allow you to buy a house in the right location someday, perhaps suggest talking to an accountant or objective third party who could determine "fairness" (NOT the sibling), and if the parents don't like any of the options, then decide if you're willing to accept money with strings attached.  If I had to put in a lot of my own money to buy a house and thought there was a real chance the market could collapse or that I wouldn't be able to sell when I needed to, I would tell them now is not a good time for this gift, but they should feel free to go ahead and help the sibling.

Good luck--these can be sticky situations.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 05:01:53 AM by Gray Matter »

This_Is_My_Username

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2014, 10:05:33 PM »
Quote
However, my partner's father is a bit distrustful about whether the kids will put the money to good use, (45,000 pounds) so he's insisting that it only be paid out in the form of a contribution to a mortgage or house purchase.

try to persuade your partners' father that investing the 45k in (e.g. shares) is a good use of the money.  That way, your partners' sibling can get the 45k for the house renovation, and you can get the $45k to provide you with passive income.    Try to persuade them that physical proprty is not flexible enough for your life circumstances - potentially moving in a few years.

As a negotiating tactic, if your parents in law are adamant about buying property, offer to invest it in a REIT. 

That said, where are you and your parents in law and your sibling in law all living currently?  This may be a well-meaning attempt for the prents to gain more control over the adult children.  parents that live near their adult children tend to have greater control over their adult children's life.    the book "the millionaire next door" discusses this issue in detail.


well done on your successful life so far!

Kepler

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Re: Inheritance, keeping family peace, and Australian housing market issues
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2014, 12:20:56 AM »
Many thanks everyone, and I think everything people have said about need to set boundaries is right.  My partner has had to deal with this before, needing to be very strict, if that's the right word, about not accepting any sort of support at all for many years to establish his commitment to independence.  I was cross-checking here, I guess, in part to see if we looked like we are being particularly irrational in thinking of knocking the funds back.  I feel slightly... churlish? knocking it back.  It's not as though we're so well off that it's an insignificant amount of money to us, and there will probably be some element of appearing really ungrateful, which will need to be smoothed over.  But we don't need the money, and this seems a wasteful use of it right now...

In terms of where everyone is: we're in Australia; everyone else is UK. 

Also agree on the comment about appreciation of assets - it was just one of these kinds of situations where we felt that, if it wasn't already clear, there was probably no explaining it...