Sunday, February 06, 2011


I wasn't sure if I should blog about this. One person suggested it's a security risk, but I doubt that, for reasons that will become clear by the end of the post.

In December, Siobhan's grandfather died at the age of 93. We went down there for the funeral on short notice. We hadn't even given a moment's thought to the idea of an inheritance. First, it didn't occur to me that there would be an estate of any size; most people these days have fairly little, or at most they have the house, which takes a while to sell. Second, and more compellingly, he had three surviving children, so it seemed logical that they'd get whatever there was. I didn't even go through these thoughts in my head, consciously. The idea of an inheritance just never came to my mind.

But it turns out, to our surprise, that there was one. His will stipulated that the estate was to be divided amongst his four children, and if one of them predeceased him, their share would propogate to their children. We've been sitting on this news ever since to make sure it was real, that it wouldn't turn out to be a mistake or nothing or caught up in some legal tangle.

As soon as we heard, before we even knew the amount, mere minutes later, we decided to share some of this windfall. The idea is simple: we weren't expecting it, weren't counting on it. If you find $20 on the sidewalk, if you give $10 to someone else, you are still up $10 you weren't expecting. So why not share?

The other thing you do with found money is, you take a certain amount of it, a small amount, and you set it aside for doing something frivolous and fun. If you try to be responsible with all of it, you either end up unhappy you never get to be whimsical, or more likely, you end up being whimsical with money somewhere else and the amount ends up being more.

So we decided to take the amount and subtract whatever is needed to cover taxes and other administrative costs. What's left we would divide up into our half and everyone else's half. Our half will be mostly used to pay down debts and the mortgage and maybe do some stuff around the house, all responsible things. (Maybe we'll use some to put in some fencing to give Socks more room to run, for instance.)

The other half, we'll be sharing on to give others some windfalls too. Some of our friends who have been there for us are on the top of the list. That includes a few who have had financial troubles in the past, but that's not why -- we're not looking to be a charity. It's just because they're people we're very close with, and with whom we'd like to share our good fortune. It's just like how you've always said, if you won the lottery, of course you'd buy some things for your friends. Well, this isn't exactly a mega-millions, but the logic still applies. And some of it will, in fact, go to charities. We haven't decided which yet, but we're fairly sure the local food shelves will be prominently placed.

So the reason why I don't think posting this is going to make someone decide to rob us is that this money isn't going to be sitting in a box in the bedroom. As soon as it comes in, it's going right back out, to pay off various things and to be given to various people. I was more worried someone might be upset that they're not on our list of recipients. If that's you, it's not that we don't care, it's just that we decided better to give a few people enough to make a big difference (for instance, for one person, it's paying for a surgery he's needed) than to give a lot of people small amounts that would just be a little extra pocket money.

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