Dave Says: Accepting Loan From Father-In-Law Is Not Worth It

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Posted: Jan 24, 2019 11:14 AM
Dave Says: Accepting Loan From Father-In-Law Is Not Worth It

Dear Dave,

My father-in-law wants to help us with our mortgage. We’ve been working hard to pay off our home early, and we’ve reduced what we owe to around $35,000. His idea is to pay off the remainder, then let us pay him back over time. In the past, he has loaned us much smaller amounts and everything has worked out fine. What do you think about this? 

Brianne

Dear Brianne,

I’m sure this seems like a winning proposition all the way around. My concern is there’s a big spiritual and emotional issue that has been left out of the equation. The borrower is always slave to the lender, and nowhere is that more true than in a family

I understand, too, you have a solid track record with this kind of thing. But anytime you borrow money from family you’re playing with fire. When you do something like this, especially with such a large amount, the money issue is likely to be a shadow hovering over your relationship. Family get togethers, special events, and holidays will feel different when you’re there with your lender instead of just good old dad.

I assume your father-in-law is doing well financially, since he can afford to make this offer. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a very kind and generous offer. If I were in his shoes, I might offer instead to pay off the mortgage as a gift to my son and daughter-in-law for working so hard to attain a goal. But it would be a gift. No strings attached. 

If you have a nice, stable family, this debt will always be there in the back of your mind. If you have a dysfunctional, control-freak kind of family, it’s going to be right there in front of you constantly. Either way, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

—Dave