Financial & high value “Gifts” to family members?

Hi. I have no idea where to put this. So it’s going here. I’m Canadian. have two grown daughters in their 30s in stable long term relationships. One, and her partner, have very good jobs and are well on their way to F.I.R.E. The other works retail, with no pension possibilities. Her partner works security, with low wage and pension.

I am concerned for the second daughter’s future. I have been passing off some family heirlooms to the first daughter for safe keeping. I’m debating passing some more valuable items to the second daughter for eventual sale, or whether I should sell them myself and just open a TFSA or other account with her as beneficiary, or gift her the item/money outright right now.

I’m wondering if there’s a way to create a safety net for the second daughter for her retirement.

For the older people on this board, how have you handled the financial disparities among your children?

For the younger people on this board, what are your feelings/concerns re: large value gifts from parents - money or otherwise? How would you prefer to receive gifts?


Until the last year I was the lower income kid with no chance of getting more money and a disability that makes work up and down. I highly valued rough equality.

Now both families are mirrors: disabled wife, 2 kids, husband works in a cloud and makes good money, big Milton house vs tiny Toronto house, both responsible for MIL.

I really appreciate when I get luxury practical gifts - clothes or house stuff that are just out of budget for myself, I.e ridiculous expensive curtains.

If my mum was thinking about resale value of her things, I’d rather the choice. Like if she wants to take me and SIL and nieces, or even just me, and go through her jewellery so I can choose a few pieces to keep- then anything she doesn’t want and she sold could go into savings. I’d appreciate it Mmmm not being burdened by selling it.

Is there a chance, that, evenly divided, your estate would provide for both kids? Maybe not quite as handsomely as if it’s not equal, but enough that poor daughter can be relaxed on a retail salary?

I really think that you need to have the conversation separately with each kid about what they want to happen after you pass - one thing I’ve stressed to my parents is that I want a relationship with my brother after they pass - so I cant be cow executor with my brother. I can do it myself, he can do it, I can do it with SIL.

If you want to distribute wealth unequally while you’re alive, what about a gift like a down payment for your less wealthy kid - or giving it as a loan so they can repay out of their inheritance but build security now? Or the gift of co-signing on a home?

I did have an aunt with more severe disability than I have, and all her siblings and parents agreed to have her get the lion’s share of an inheritance. But she was also in a country with a better safety net and while she wasn’t offended with the proposed distribution (and would have then passed it back to her nieces and nephews since she didn’t have kids) she didn’t want it or think it was necessary.


The shadowy one’s parents for a while tried very hard to make sure that they were being fair between their two kids. So when they gave my BIL 5k to help with a car purchase, we also got that amount sent to us. Similarly when the family cottage was sold, both children got 20k. There has not been money sent for quite some time - not sure if that is because my BIL hasn’t gotten any money, or they’ve given up on the idea. I don’t know if the BIL will get more money in the will because of the nephews.

My family doesn’t talk about money much. But in general I’d say that they try to reflect the person’s situation, while not going overboard. For example, my second sister got 6k to help with her wedding, but they gave us 10k (my second sister’s ILs are quite wealthy). As we had been the lowest income family for some time, there isn’t / shouldn’t be the same level of concern, though my dad has had some incredibly awkward discussions with the shadowy one.

We got some cash a couple of years ago, and I think my little sister also got some money at that time, but I don’t know if it was the same amount or if all 4 of us got some. It felt a bit weird because it was 6 months living expenses for us, and I didn’t know what they wanted us to do with it. We considered the kitchen reno, and then just kept it as part of the 2 year cash buffer. 1-2k would have been easier to deal with?

I have been told that the will has an even distribution and my two older sisters have POA and are the executors.

If you give money for a TFSA, would you be ok if she used it for something you didn’t approve of, like spending on a nice vacation or a series of statement purses instead of keeping it invested for long term or towards a condo?

When it comes to physical stuff, I think that this is something I wouldn’t want to feel required to do while also dealing with the emotions. As a sibling, I would be upset if a sister was given something with the implication that they’d sell it without first giving me right of first refusal (I think my sister is still upset that I gave away the swivel chair).

But also, I don’t think my parents have things that are particularly valuable without a decent amount of legwork to find the right buyer. Like the table to photograph stuff on - it was very pricy at the time, and it has cool up and down movements and lighting. But it’s only going to be worth something because it is specialized.

If they gave me something with the expectation I’d sell it to get the money? It wouldn’t sit well with me. Perhaps also because I would feel like I wasn’t being trusted with the ‘for safe keeping’ things, reinforcing that I’m the disappointment.


Hmmm… Thank-you both for your replies. My second daughter has stated she doesn’t want the heirloom jewellery. So I don’t feel bad selling it and turning it into cash. Even the first daughter only took it “for safe keeping”.

Our estate, split evenly, will not provide for the second daughter’s retirement. Especially if we have to sell the house and go into a rental situation, or seniors home.

But yes, I would be ticked off if the second daughter took the money I’d saved for her retirement and bought a bunch of Coach purses or whatever. She wouldn’t, as she’s not a fashion girl. But still…there are other ways to waste money! Plus her husband has bad money practices in his life and background, and can be a bad influence that way.

Neither daughter owns a house, nor is intending to have children. So gifts for down payments is not an issue. Both rent and I am concerned about the rising cost of living with my second daughter. They’ve had a sweet deal with the landlord up until Covid. I don’t know what’s going on now. We see her next week and I will try to ask without sounding too nosy. Both children are very private about their finances. I may try to offload things like garden produce her way…under the guise of it being excess, which it will be at the time.


My parents told my brother and I, years ago, that when they pass everything will be split equally between the two of us. Their focus is equal giving rather than proportional to need. My brother has a lot more money than I do (he and his wife both earn a lot more than my husband, and I can’t work at all anymore so we’re single income) and my brother is not disabled, whereas I have less money and a costly disability- but we will still get equal shares. Neither of us have kids but I don’t think that would change things either.

I have no issue with it! I think it’s their money so giving us anything at all is not something I count on. I plan my finances assuming I will receive nothing from them (partly because their track record for honesty/dependability is not great). You should do what feels right to you. I think it’s up to your kids to handle it with grace.


As the highest earning kid out of 3 (or at least, in the highest earning partnership) I want to express the opposite view… I would have no issue with my sibs receiving more gifts, help, inheritance at this point. I guess I might slightly feel that if that’s the case I should get first pick/slight preference on sentimental items.

I’ve seen opposite views in advice columns, though. So I think it’s important to talk to your kids! Do they expect equality or “needs based” giving? Do they want physical things, or money/value? Does the one working retail have goals for the future you may want to support (work up in retail management chain, return/go to school, start a business, eg art/photo based)? You should also communicate your intent with any gifts or inheritance, if there is one, eg: I want this to support your stability and retirement so please invest it/keep it invested and only use for medical emergencies or education. Or, whatever. It’s no guarantee it won’t go to something you wouldn’t approve, but it’s something.

Two things that don’t seem to work out well: giving more to the richer sibling because they’re “responsible,” and leaving out the child that provides more physical caretaking/support (if any).


I think that there is a lot to be said for just dividing the lot down the middle, but I have some oddly personal feelings about this.

My mother believed, for reasons not at all clear to me, that I was much better off financially than my sister.

I guess it’s possible, but I don’t know why it would be, as I think we’ve done about the same in terms of careers, except that my sister is the main earner and her dh worked part time, and my dh was the main earner and I worked part time. My sister’s job and my dh’s were almost exactly the same and I presume that they have earned about the same money.

The main difference is that my sister has 15 cats and no kids, and dh and I raised 3 kids, paid for 3 sets of braces and 3 college educations, so again, I never figured out why my mom thought we were rich.

She did want to divide her estate very unequally, to the point where her lawyer said he wouldn’t write it that way. I said it was her money and she could do whatever she wanted with it, but it really did hurt my feelings.


I think maintaining peace is a big part of why my parents want to split it evenly. It’s kind of a relief for me, honestly, because I could see my brother being really upset if I were to get more. He has always felt like he has things much harder than I do in general, and I feel like that would be compounded if I were to receive more money than him. I’d probably end up giving him the difference and making it even if they weren’t going to do that. But that would be a whole thing too, so I’m glad I (hopefully) won’t be in that position.


4 years after our mom’s death my sister has still not finished settling the estate, so…

But I will not be fighting about money.


I don’t even know how the process works but that sounds hard :frowning: glad you aren’t too worried about it though!

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Honestly, it’s a big project and the last bit is complicated, and my sister has a lot to do. I’m mostly surprised that she hasn’t been more motivated to turn this into actual cash.

We’ve also got to settle some stuff with my mom’s cousin’s estate, and it is ALSO a pain.


Okay, so what I’m hearing overall is make the process of stuff as easy to deal with as possible after my death…which means giving the kids first dibs on the jewellery and selling the rest. Cash is easier to transfer at death. I will have the talk with each of them separately re:splitting the estate evenly or providing more for the one in greater need.

When I talk to my children they both say they don’t need or expect anything from us. But I’m not sure that’s not pride speaking from the second daughter. She wants to be seen as independent.

However, Not long ago I asked her if she had a retirement savings plan, thinking I might make a contribution to that, if needed or accepted. She did not have a retirement savings plan. She’s 35 years old. She glumly replied she did not expect to be alive by retirement age! Upon further questioning it appears between the Ukraine situation and Covid, she’s pretty depressed. I’m trying to think of things I can do to cheer her up a bit and give her some hope.


Cranky, I have an acquaintance in your sister’s position. She’s been so upset and depressed over her mom’s death and her perceived notion of family relationships, that she refuses to deal with the estate, claiming it’s a trigger for her. Dealing with dead people’s things is hard enough, let alone any complications there might be.


I’d say that I don’t need or expect anything from my parents, but I would be very upset if they decided to just give to one or a subset of my siblings (it reminds me of Little Women where Jo misses out on the trip to Europe - very triggery). E.g. if they decided it should all go to charities, or to spend it to zero, that is their choice. But to have a heavily uneven split is a different message if it wasn’t previously discussed and addressed.


Thank-you. I get that. I was actually thinking of a bit of a money transfer before I die, not in my estate. The estate will be split half and half. The estate would include the house, car, and joint bank accounts.


I have given my kids any items that they wanted now instead of waiting until I die with the exception of my antique dining room table and chairs which my youngest son will have to wait for. Everything will be split 3 ways. I gave my Dil some of my diamond jewelry and sold some. Through the years I have helped all 3 as needed and didn’t keep track of the costs but none were large amounts. Mostly I have let them live with me when needed. I have seen a lot of heartbreak among siblings left unequal amounts.


I wonder if a gift you can give second daughter while you’re still alive is financial education. You could walk her through your situation and accounts, explain tradeoffs you made, and explain your plans for giving. Then maybe talk to her a bit about her savings plans and goals. Depending on how she responds you could consider reading a book club or starting an investment account together, concrete steps like that. 30s is definitely not too late to start and hopefully you will have many years ahead where your and her relationship to money can evolve.

I am the older “more responsible” / higher earning sibling and it annoyed me that my parents initially assumed they only needed to explain everything to me. I told my parents they should at least walk my brother through it all because having less money maybe makes it even more important to know how to manage it well. They’ve been a lot more actively involved in his financial life (ie opened his first checking account with their name on it and never took it off, regular cash infusions when he was working a low salary job for several years, helped him with a down payment). I never minded the money, especially since my college subsidized a huge part of my education but his did not. But their involvement made me worry that he wouldn’t be able to do it independently. Over the past ~5 years I’ve seen him taking on more planning and thinking which is a relief for thinking of his future security!


That’s an excellent idea @Ferngully! I would have to pass it by Hubby before sharing anything financial with second daughter, of course. That might be another hurdle. He doesn’t like talking finances either. But maybe there’s a way to do it without actually sharing figures…just ideas.

Second daughter is not a reader, but she will watch videos. I’m sure there’s something online that can help!


My two cents (worth what you’re paying for them!), is that everything you’ve written sounds as though neither daughter would appreciate an unequal split. Even if they both agreed to it, I think an unequal split would be a poor idea. It sounds to me like their privacy around their finances means you probably shouldn’t assume, or if you do assume anything - assume that they are independent and capable adults who can manage themselves. I feel like any attempt by a parent to control, cajole, or teach their adult child will most often just be resented which defeats the purpose.

For reference, I am the higher earning sibling and it would do me, my relationship with my siblings, and my relationship with my parents no favors if they chose to do anything but equal split. I don’t need the money, and I would like my siblings to get it, but it would make things weird between us (my siblings would feel that the parents had more faith in my ability to care for myself), plus I would feel compelled to agree if my parents approached me and asked (even if it hurt my feelings, or I didn’t have as much money as they think I do). All of that added up makes me believe that equal is really the best way to go.


Thanks @rocklobster. :pensive: I guess I’ll have to think more about the “passing things on while alive” idea. Or selling and just throwing the money towards my TFSA for an even split when I die.