‘I’m already feeling guilty’: My uncle is leaving me a large inheritance, but excluding my siblings. Should I gift them money every year, or set up a trust?

Dear Quentin,

I am soon to inherit a sizable sum of money from an uncle with whom no one in my family still speaks; I’m the only one who has stayed in contact with him. While it seems a bit grotesque to think about money while someone is on their deathbed, this is a large enough sum that I need to plan for how I will save/invest it.

I have two siblings who are not included in the inheritance. However, once my uncle passes and I have inherited the money, I would like to “share the love” with my siblings, with whom I am very close. I feel that this money is unearned and I’m already feeling guilty that I am receiving this money and they are not, especially because one sister struggles financially. 

If I were to gift them some of the inheritance, what would be the best way to do that? I would like to avoid paying taxes again, as I will be paying estate taxes on the inheritance. I could give them yearly amounts, but don’t want it to feel like I’m lording this money over their heads; would a trust be more appropriate? Especially since my struggling sister does not manage money well.

Thanks for your help.

Sharing the Love

Dear Sharing,

You’re a good sister. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and that you are planning ahead. In the meantime, don’t make any promises to your siblings, or yourself.

You feel guilty enough about inheriting this money while your two sisters are left out in the cold; don’t feel guilty about giving it away too. If either sibling protested the manner in which they received the money and felt like you were “lording” it over them or in some way making them feel “less than” they could always refuse it. You can’t control how other people react or feel, so don’t try to do so. You can only control how you feel. Guilt should not even be on the table.

Trusts are generally a good option when you want to save on estate taxes. For instance, an inflation adjustment has lifted the federal estate taxes to $12.06 million per…

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