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Ask Amy: Once you give adult children money, you can’t tell them how to spend it


Dear Amy: I came into some money. I shared some of these funds with my daughters, with the intention that they would use the money to pay down the debt in their homes or to fix up their homes.

The youngest daughter did as I suggested, but the oldest daughter hasn’t done so.

It’s been over four months now, and she has only completed one small project on her home.

I’m disappointed by the lack of progress.

My wife thinks that when you give a gift, it’s theirs to decide what to do with it.

I’m curious about your thoughts about this.

– Disappointed Dad

Dear Disappointed: I’m with your wife. If your eldest daughter has consumer debt, it might be wisest to pay that down before investing in her home. She also might have used some of the funds to pay down her mortgage without discussing it with you.

And … it’s HER money. How do you know that? Because you gave it to her.

You don’t say what terms, if any, you attached to this gift, other than your preference for how your daughters should use it.

You could discuss this with your eldest daughter, restating your intentions, but otherwise I suggest that you should snip the tight strings you’ve attached to this gift.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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