Would you ever sue your family?

If you’ve ever lent money to family, did you treat it like a gift or did you expect to be paid back? It seems like in a lot of cases, the borrower treats it like a gift while the person doing the lending actually expects to get their money back. If a loved one borrowed money from you and then refused to pay them back, would you chalk it up to a tough lesson learned? Or would you sue them for it?

I recently answered this letter from a woman who paid $100,000 to save her brother-in-law’s home. https://www.thepennyhoarder.co…e-my-brother-in-law/ He still owes her $92,000, but now he’s refusing to pay. They have a signed agreement, so now she’s questioning whether she should take him to court over it.

Honestly, I can’t imagine even being in a position to lend someone $100K, so I can’t wrap my brain around being stiffed for such a huge amount. The problem with lending money to family is that you’re probably way more understanding than a debt collector. They may fully intend to pay you back, but then when they have other bills and stuff they want, you become the lowest priority. (That said, I’m sure plenty of people who borrow from family make repaying them a top priority because they want to do the right thing!)

Would you sue the brother-in-law if you were in the letter writer’s shoes? I lean toward yes, but what an awful position to be in. Either way, I don’t think her odds of seeing that money are very good.


I’m wondering where the sister is in all this. She lives in the home as well so the loaner sister kept the roof over her head too. Yep, I’d sue the brother-in-law and if it affects the relationship between sisters, so be it. They both sound like grifters.

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As a general rule, I don’t lend money. I gift it. It’s easier and usually the relationship has more value to me than the amount that’s requested. However, because I don’t expect payment back, I am much more cautious about who and how I gift money. I am also big on giving people the tools to help themselves. For example, if a girlfriend is having to choose between putting food on the table or paying rent I would rather buy groceries for her than spot her on the rent money.

In this instance I would sue, especially if there’s a legal contract in place. It stinks, but there was a clear understanding in the beginning that should be followed through on.


If you really made that type of agreement and put in “Its a Loan” especially with that amount I would have made up a legal document. Family and friends sometimes feel they can get away with things like this and its up to you to not allow them to think you can be taken advantage of. So yes get your money.

If you dont have any document proving or legitimizing this was in fact a loan, then you gave him an option/room to not honor it. Treating his own sister like this, I would also treat him accordingly. But weight the benefits and consequences of choosing not to sue or go for suing. And still either way lesson learned


If there is a legally binding contract that the brother in law signed and agreed too, then he owes said money and therefore needs to make payment arrangements with the lender. If this doesn’t work, then the next step should be to file a claim of non-payment with the courts and sue the person for the monies owed. Relative or not, the money needs to be and should be paid back.


First, I never lend more than I can afford to lose. Second, I never lend money to friends or family if I suspect that they cannot or will not pay me back. When I do choose to make a loan I set up a payment plan with them in advance.

If this is someone I care strongly about, I know their income is small, the money is needed for an important reason, and it’s not a lot, I will simply gift it. So many people gifted me and my family when we were poor. One friend lent me $4800 without interest for my son’s surgery, (he fractured/shattered his clavicle). The surgeon told us afterwards that the sharp end of my son’s collar bone which had been tenting the skin, was less than an hour away from tearing through, his brachial artery was caught up over the top of that sharpened end, my son would have bled out and died had I not sought surgery after the ER doctors told us he was fine and it would just heal that way. So she not only saved him from a life of disability and pain, she saved his life. I’m paying it forward every time I gift or lend to people in need.

When I was 20 years old I made a gift of $600 to my Dad so that they could save our house. My parents were terrible with money and they lost the house a couple years later anyway. I wasn’t upset though, I think because I knew it would happen eventually. They were spenders, which is why I became a saver; unfortunately I married a spender, after we separated my financial situation improved greatly.

However I would not have lent or given money to that BiL to begin with, his being that far behind suggests his money problems are too severe to be fixed with one simple loan. What’s done is done, if the relationship isn’t that important, sue him. If the relationship IS important you can do one of two things, forget the money, or ask him to go into legal mediation with you so that an affordable payment plan can be set up. Perhaps one that draws directly from his bank account on his payday. My guess is that forgetting the money will be difficult due to the size of the loan, but ask yourself which option will cause the least amount of stress for you and see if this helps answer the question of what to do.


For me personally, I wouldn’t really ever loan money to friends. I’d just gift it to them instead with no expectation of them returning it. As a result, I’d probably only give them very little compared to what I might have been able to loan them.

If I were to loan money to family / friends, I feel like it’ll always be the choice between getting the money back and keeping the friend lol.



i have through out this year lent my two grandchildren money, we made a agreement by mouth to pay me 100 a month, and they have both almost paid me off,i knew these two would pay back, but i would not lend to any one i didn;t trust, i know it wasn’t a lot, but they did keep their r word wow i can’t image leaning that amount of money