Next year my eldest daughter is marrying her long-term partner and I am over the moon. He is a lovely, caring guy with a good job. He's sensible, they already have two children together and I've promised her that I will gift them £10,000 to help pay for their wedding.
My other daughter, two years younger, has also decided she is getting married, though she has not yet decided on a date. I suspect that her older sister's wedding plans have spurred her on.
She has been with her partner for around two years, and I'm afraid I don't have much time for him. He floats from job to job, they always have money problems, and my suspicion is that she has had to bail him out financially on more than one occasion. He is a nice enough man, but I sometimes worry that he is freeloading off my daughter. They seem happy together, but I am constantly worried about her financial state.
If they do get married, which I believe they will, would it be wrong for me not to contribute towards the wedding, as I plan to do for my eldest? I don't think they would be as careful with the money, but more importantly, I don't feel that he deserves it. He is from a fairly well-off family, so they may put some money in, but they have never seemed interested in helping out before.
For the time being, I have asked my eldest not to tell my youngest how much I am giving her. Am I a bad parent?
HF, via email
Even something as well meaning as a wedding gift can be a source of family drama, and it is sensible that you have kept the gift to your eldest quiet for the time being, given your concerns.
You are, of course, under no obligation to gift anything to anyone, though knowing this has not made you feel any less guilty about the situation.
If you believe that your would-be son-in-law is "freeloading" off your daughter, it is probably a good idea to have a conversation with her where you can raise your misgivings.
Assuming this falls on deaf ears, and they do press ahead with their plans to get married, you say that your reservations about gifting the money are twofold – you do not think they would be as careful with the money as your eldest, and you do not feel he deserves it.
Tackling the first issue, if you do decide to gift the money, this could potentially be solved with a spending plan. You could ask your youngest to plan out how she would spend the cash, and you could release it in stages based on whether you approve of the roadmap.
This might seem patronising to your daughter, but remember this is a large sum of money and sometimes difficult conversations need to be had. You will do well to remind her of this fact, too.
If you are going to take this route, you should ask her to be thorough in her plan, to plan exactly how the money will be spent and with which companies, and to get quotes beforehand for goods and services wherever possible. This is not something to feel guilty about, as you are still being a substantial help, even if your daughter and her partner have to jump through a few hoops to receive the money.
You say he does not deserve your money, which given your suspicions of financial mismanagement is not an unfair view to take. However, in this situation, it may be more appropriate to consider whether you feel that your daughter deserves it. Although you don't approve of her choice of life partner, you say she is happy herself with her choice, despite his shortcomings.
You mentioned that he comes from a wealthy family. With this in mind, you may consider gifting a smaller amount, for example £5,000, and asking them to make up the difference. This could be easier said than done however, and could potentially lead to more friction, so proceed with caution should you take this approach.
Another option is to gift a smaller amount and hold the remainder of the money back for a future life event, for example when your youngest has her first child, or puts a deposit down on a house. This way, she is receiving the same amount as her big sister, but potentially in a more useful way, given their evident money management issues.
Or, of course, you could simply not gift them anything at all, safe in the knowledge that you can help your daughter should she need it. This does not make you a bad parent, but a prudent one.
On a practical note, remember that your gift to your eldest will be partly exempt from inheritance tax, providing you gift in on, or shortly before, the day of the wedding.
The wedding gift will be tax-free up to £5,000, and you can combine this with your £3,000 annual exemption.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below and by emailing email@example.com.
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Last week's Moral Money: ‘I look after my unruly grandchildren every day – is it wrong to ask my daughter to pay me?’
I love my grandchildren dearly and enjoy spending time with them, but my daughter has asked too much of me. I used to look forward to taking them out on weekends but since my daughter got a new job, she’s been gradually asking me to look after them more and more.
Last month she fired the nanny and now I look after the two-year-old all day and take the five-year-old to and from school. It’s exhausting, loud and my back hurts. I’m starting to see the ugly side of these children, there’s so much whinging and whining.
My daughter has previously had poor finances, but she is saving a lot of money by getting rid of the nanny and I get nothing. She has never never offered me any money or to pay me back for the extra I spend on them. Would it really be so wrong of me to ask her for some?
PD, via email
Poll results - Is it wrong to ask to be paid for taking care of grandchildren?
Yes, family should be always be there to help for free: 10pc
No, it is unreasonable to expect that much of family: 84pc