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Here's a letter that struck a nerve with me lately: A single woman wrote and asked whether she was obligated to leave money to her nieces and nephews when she dies. Her mother passed recently, and she and her two siblings are each getting an inheritance.

She knows she needs to make a will. Her brother and sister told her that since she doesn't have children, she should leave her money to their children. So she asked whether she's in the wrong if she doesn't leave money to her nieces and nephews. To which my answer is a resounding NOOO!!! The sense of entitlement coming from the letter writer's siblings is positively infuriating.

So I'm wondering: For those of you who are single and don't have kids, where do you plan to leave your money when you die? Or if you're a parent, who would you leave your money to if you didn't have kids? That's assuming, of course, that you ARE planning to leave money to your kids. If you're not, I'd definitely be interested in hearing from you as well.

The letter hit home for me since I'm single with no children. My mom and my sister are my beneficiaries. But since my sister is a lot older, I need to start thinking about contingent beneficiaries. I don't have nieces and nephews. I have cousins, but I wouldn't make them or their children the beneficiaries just to keep the money in the family. I'd rather leave my money to a good charity so I can make an impact.

For example, here in St. Pete, FL, there's a great group that I make a small monthly contribution to. They make small cash grants to people facing an emergency, i.e., they're behind on rent, need help with a medication co-pay, can't afford to repair the car they use for work, etc. Often, a grant of just a few hundred dollars staves off disaster and makes a huge difference. So I'd much rather give money there or to a similar charity than have it go to a distant relative who's doing just fine already.

I get angry when people feel like they or their kids are entitled to an inheritance. I know my mom has me and my sister listed as her beneficiaries, but I really hope there's not much left for us. I'd rather see her use that money to travel or just enjoy life when she retires.

What does everyone think? Should the letter writer leave her money to family? Or should she do whatever the heck she wants with her money?

Robin Hartill aka Dear Penny is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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You did right with your answer(s). I am a single parent.

Leave money to a friend(s) you've known for many years, to a charity, church, Museum(s), or Zoo(s).

Parents with kids, don't have to leave money to their kids, when my parents died, none of us kids got any money, some of us showed up at the parent's home after the last parent had died, and it was like, hey do you want this yes or no, and also it went like this, hey I am taking this and that is basically how we split everything up, the kids who did not show up either didn't want anything or they just sent a text or called to see what was available to have as a memory. The parent's house had already been owned by my oldest brother since 2002, which everyone knew, last parent died in 2016. They had already spent their money (my parents).

Here is something else for everybody to think about, two friends of mine, both single males. One is aged 65 with one adult child, the other is aged 63 and childless. The 65-year-old told me when he dies he is leaving his home(paid in full) to the 63-year-old who lives in an apartment, I never asked why it's not going to his child because it is none of my business what he does with his belongings. But I did ask does the 63-year-old know this, nope was the reply back to me and he'll find out after I die was the second reply.

I myself only have one of my kids listed as getting everything, my others haven't talked to me in over 15 years. And lastly, my stuff was updated in March 2022.

I agree that it is irritating and presumptuous for relatives to tell you who to leave your money to. I do need to update my will and finish an estate plan though. I will be leaving what I have to my sole niece (who has not asked and is too decent to presume), a cousin, a couple or three animal charities, and a bit to my grandparents' country church. When I would visit during the summers, the church welcomed me to sing in their children's choir and recite poems (that were totally not church-like, LoL). Things like The Road Not Taken or whatever caught my fancy. Lovely people.

This is a really good question for everyone whether they have kids or not. As you approach retirement years, you have to estate plan, make a will, provide for you final expense and then comes the question of money and items for inheritance. This puts you on a new level of awareness. I have talked about this with my husband and friends, with my husband there are specifics and the friends are generalities. And a few surprises for some.

Parents' job is to prepare their children for adulthood, this has got to be one of the most difficult tasks a people can do and not create an atmosphere of entitlement.  Unfortunately, entitlement has risen it's ugly head all over the place in all aspects of life and has literally overpowered many situations and has caused all kinds of grief and dispare for all involved. Parents owe their children a good education and a good moral compass, then let them fly in my opinion. If they have made a hot mess of their lives, let them own it. That's it. The nagging feeling or a self-inflicted indebtedness that they (children, family, friends, ministries, and charities) are to expect or be owed something more is pure nonsense.

To willingly give and willingly receive seems easy, it's not. If you have acquired any kind of wealth it is your decision, and only yours on what to do with it, no matter what anyone thinks or tries to dictate to you. There are some really smooth talkers and takers out there from all walks of life and who do you want to believe?

I do have 2 teenagers living with me so the money will go to them.

However, if I did not have children, the money would go to my parents/Aunt and Uncle/ and brother. My brother would be the primary with other amounts to the older relatives if they are still around.

A good friend of mine was the primary recipient of her lifelong best friend's significant estate, as the friend did not have children and was not particularly close to her family. There were some hurt feelings, but no one contested it.

I do also have a written plan for any lottery monies I might win (!) and that is distributed across family, church, charities, and other organizations. I am putting it out there- I am ready to win. 🙂

  My first job was working in a cemetery. I have seen so called "Love Ones" duke it out graveside. Two brothers actually fell in the grave on their mothers coffin fighting over inheritance. I bet the embarrassment alone would have killed her; if she hadn't already been dead.   "NO" not everyone deserves to be in your will. Many times people leave their money and possessions to family members who couldn't even bother with a Christmas card! I think I would prefer to leave something to someone who was a friend and a help to me, in my time of need, Be it a neighbor, the church , or just local do-gooders.

I believe God helps those who help themselves, so, why not help those that help you. Being related by birth doesn't really make you family, does it?

My will lists my brother as my beneficiary, but I haven't updated it in years. When I do (this is a great reminder), I'll have everything go to my son. If I did't have a kid, I'd opt to keep things as they are and have my assets go to my brother and his kids. If I got really ambitious in updating my will, I'd request a few valuable items go to specific dear friends who'd value them more than anyone else.

@SWP63 posted:

  My first job was working in a cemetery. I have seen so called "Love Ones" duke it out graveside. Two brothers actually fell in the grave on their mothers coffin fighting over inheritance. I bet the embarrassment alone would have killed her; if she hadn't already been dead.   "NO" not everyone deserves to be in your will. Many times people leave their money and possessions to family members who couldn't even bother with a Christmas card! I think I would prefer to leave something to someone who was a friend and a help to me, in my time of need, Be it a neighbor, the church , or just local do-gooders.

I believe God helps those who help themselves, so, why not help those that help you. Being related by birth doesn't really make you family, does it?

What an image – two fighting brothers falling into their mother's open grave! You'll never forget that!

I don't have the luxury of having monetary assets to pass on, but I do have a few possessions that I want to pass on to my children with the notation that they don't just throw them away but either donate or sell the items they don't want (household items and my book collection). I have been trying to eliminate most of what they would declare junk myself as best as I can now. It looks like I am going to have to sit down with a lawyer to get a will of some kind set up even though I don't have monetary assets and a decree of how I want to be buried after I am declared legally dead plus an end of life statement if I am incapacitated in extreme conditions to not leave me on life support. No parent owes their child anything except love and acceptance once their child has become an adult and no child or relative should expect to receive whatever their parents/relatives earned during their life.

If you do not have a complicated estate, you can download the needed forms from the internet. (The internet has everything!) Also, check with the Register of Wills at your county office. They can be quite helpful in these matters. Be sure to get all of your paperwork notarized. Most banks will do that for you. While you are at it, leave a personalized letter for each of your loved ones. Your words may be the most valuable thing you leave behind. Besides, how often do you get the last word?

Well first i must agree that is a very good question. it is a question nobody really even wants to talk about. But at some point in time in every ones lives it must be dealt with.

I have indeed seen animosities formed in families over the final readings of a person's will. nothing brings out Greed in a person more than a close Family member passing away.  Just a small example of this ,was when My wife passed away to continue the next leg of her Journey With Jesus Christ. i am glad it was he , that she left me for . After the Funeral was over and the gathering had dispersed . we all went our separate ways. The very next week ,one of her cousins came to the house  (pulling a trailer) and i politely said hello and acknowledged the fact i seen a trailer behind her vehicle i had never before seen. so i questioned her about it. Her reply was straight to the point. i am here to pick up the entertainment center and a set of Dishes that my wife had told her she could have when she dies.  i was shocked to say the least , and replied hmmm well i was not informed of this , do you have that in writing from her or am i to just take your word for it?  i allowed her inside , i showed her the entertainment center was still being used by myself , and i had no idea where or which set of Dishes she spoke of. she started to get angry, and i reminded her it has only been a week ,and i was still missing her terribly. then i added very politely , i said listen , i know nothing of this , but i do think you are being quite Rude and very Greedy for one , and for 2 , would you please leave ,i didn't appreciate in any way of her just showing up and expecting me to hand over anything to her.  I gave her 5 minutes to leave or i would call the police. 15 minutes goes by , and i glance out the window, her pickup and trailer are both still here but jack -knifed in the street . i instantly snapped some pictures  and went outside to investigate.  snapping more pictures as i got closer . laughing under my breath as well. what in heavens is going on out here?

she tells me , i cannot turn around the trailer keeps running into my truck !  i turned to the trailer and scolded it , bery loudly to where i am sure all the neighbors heard me. BAD TRAILER ,BAD TRAILER , YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER DO THINGS LIKE THAT.

i looked at the truck and the trailer , the pickup had dents on both sides the trailer only had scratched paint.  i asked her would you like some help turning around ? before you report your trailer to the proper authorities or after? she said what ?  i said , well i don't want my fingerprints on your steering wheel if your going to report this truck beating. she did laugh at that, and said very nicely , will you please help me get this back on the road facing that way ,pointing her finger to the road to town.  ok give me a second though . i knelt down on a knee closed my eyes and was telling my wife in heaven to look down on me and witness this mess and to send me a sign of some kind. and if Jesus is laughing , then you laugh too.. i love and miss you my love.

and quickly maneuvering the truck i had it pointing to to the main road in 2 minutes . putting the Parking Brake on and leaving it neutral , i stepped out leaving the door open for her. i said goodbye and could not help myself from adding. you should probably  practice with that trailer some where before you ever load it with anything. have a safe trip , be careful. i went into the house .i have not seen or heard from her since.

if I have money to leave when i pass, i think St. Jude hospital for children would be my best option. the rest of my stuff , it's just stuff .

First thanks for the laugh but I know that it is a serious issue that occurred. I had a similar situation occurred with me, concerning the house that we all thought, including my father, was titled to only my parents, especially since it was my father’s VA benefit after his service in WW2 that made most of the money to buy the house in the 1950s. My mother, rest her soul, hide the fact that she, under pressure from her parents ( my grandparents) was asked to provide a safety resource for the rest of her siblings who always had problems. Instead of the title being entirely in my parents name, she had only 15% claim with their names and the remaining 85% with my grandparents names on it. Well they died in 1957 and nothing was done to adjust the title to give my parents a higher amount of the title since my mother did have a percentage automatically of the 85% and she was in turn granted her two brothers shares when they died, making my parents portion to the house almost 60% or more depending on the math. But my mother refused to make the change ( a simple quick change with a small fee), even after the mortgage was paid in full. 32 years later when she died, my remaining aunt , her sister, demanded full possession of the house as the remaining heir because of her parents name on the title. After my father realized that she had controlling control, he told her that to buy him out of his 15% but paying him all the back taxes for all the years ( which was a small percentage of the value of the house) but she refused and wanted him to pay her, as she was only interested in the expected money value for the sale of the house. So he took his name of the property, informed the city to send all property taxes requests to her as the only owner. Because of her stubbornness, and lack of cooperation, she lost out on allowing the property to be sold or brought out correctly. My parents brought that house for $25,000 in 1951. Today in 2022, under new owners who brought it from the city, it is valued at $825,000.  Goes to show what mistakes greedy relatives will do to get their “alleged” inheritance upfront. —Just desired

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