An in-law set up trust funds for my kids; my wife and I disagree about them

Need advice dealing with a difficult situation? Send your questions to Miss Conduct.

A recently deceased relative of my wife’s set up trust funds for our children’s education, to which her widower will contribute annually so that they keep up with inflation. The real value of the funds won’t increase over time. I would like to ask him to invest the funds instead of keeping them in a savings account, but my wife does not want to. If we don’t, it’s likely going to require taking out loans to afford tuition in 15 years. We finally paid off our student loans last year, and I really don’t want them to be saddled with the same debt. Would it be appropriate to ask him to invest the money?

B.K. / Dedham

If for no other reason, it would not be appropriate because your wife does not want you to, and my permission would not change that. Making a financial ask of one’s in-laws when one’s spouse is against it is a very, very bad move. (Plus, trust funds often have stipulations about how the money can be managed.)

And let me throw in some additional free advice with no interest: You need to get out of your own head! In the course of a paragraph you managed to turn an unexpected good thing into a somewhat urgent problem that needs to be addressed for the sake of your children’s future. Maybe you’re freaked out over finally getting out from under that debt, because sometimes we only feel the feelings once the objective stress is over. Or maybe you often catastrophize when good things happen . . . and that’s not a good thing to saddle kids with, either.


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