How would you advise this man?

A man has found out that he a terminal disease and is about to die. He decides to make out is will and make his three children the sole beneficiaries of his one and a half million dollars (to keep the math simple).

One child is very capable and has made three-quarters of a million dollars. Another is not quite so capable and has managed only half a million and the third, through no fault of his own, is the least capable and has managed only a quarter of a million.

The man wants to divide his money fairly among the three children and wonders which of two ways he should do it.

The first way is to divide the one and a half million evenly giving each child half a million dollars.

The second way is to leave the most capable child a quarter of a million dollars, the not-quite-so-capable child half a million and the least capable three quarters of a million. He reasons that when he goes he will leave his children in possession of a million dollars each.

He asks you which way he should go. What would be your advice?

Donate the money to the Church :smiley:

Talk it over with his children, not strangers.

I would just divide it up equally between the 3.

There was a man that raised horses. He drafted his will he had decided to give the oldest of his 3 sons one half of all the horses that he owned when he died, the second son one third of all the horses that he owned when he died and his youngest son one ninth of all the horses that he owned when he died.

The herd would constantly increase and decrease in number and it so happened that when he passed away he had 17 horses. This caused a problem for the 3 sons as 17 is not divisible by 2, 3, or 9. No one wanted to cut horses up as the result would be useless to everyone not to mention the horses!. They decided that they should call on a wise man to examine the issue so they did.

The wise man looked at the problem and then declared that he had a solution! He borrowed a horse from a farmer across the road. That gave them a total of 18 horses. He gave the first son half of the 18 horses which was 9 horses. He gave the second son a third of the 18 horses which was 6. And he gave the youngest son a ninth of the 18 horses which was 2. He then calculated the total number of horses he had distributed, 9+6+2 = 17 horses so he gave the remaining 1 horse back to the farmer across the road!

Attachment to money and the attempt by older people to use it to control others, coupled with the expression of love or approval or pride tied to percentages makes me physically ill.
Equal distribution is the healthiest answer baring any moral issues.

But he won’t actually be leaving them with $1M will he? The first 2 children will have to earn money on their own to make up for what the third one received. He should leave the same amount to all 3.

Now if you were talking about companies not children, then I’d go with the first solution.

I would advise him to adopt me and split it evenly 4 ways :smiley:

Give each of the children a modest inheritance so there’s no squabbling over the money. Then take the rest and give it to those who are in need. Also give to animal shelters as well.

Leave the money to the children of the fat man on the trolley tracks.

The father will not be giving each child $1 million dollars; but each of the three children will be in possession of a total of $1 million, between what the child already has and what the father leaves the child.

That’s a good idea. :slight_smile:


I realize he’s not leaving them each a million. My point was that the first 2 would have to make up the difference themselves, out of their own pocket.

Do whatever he wants. It’s his money, he knows his children and their circumstances, etc.


Give each one of them $100K. Then, each one has one hour to spend the $100K. They can’t just give it away, they have to get legitimate receipts for legitimate purchases. Whoever manages to spend their money within the rules set forth … gets the rest of their inheritance with no strings attached.

Give them each a quarter million and then give the rest to charity.

However if you believe the Mystics they have a solution for you right from the Holy Family.

It is said that St Joseph and the Blessed Mother took all the gifts from three kings and divided them into thirds. 1/3 they gave to the poor, 1/3 they gave to God and 1/3 they used for their needs (if I remember correctly). So how about 1/3 to the children, 1/3 to God and 1/3 to the poor???

I don’t see why not.
Child 1: $3/4 million owned + $1/4 million given = $1 million in total.
Child 2: $1/2 million owned + $1/2 million given = $1 million in total.
Child 3: $1/4 million owned + $3/4 million given = $1 million in total.
Am I missing something here?

If that’s how he wants to divide the inheritance, that’s up to him because it’s his money. There’s no moral question involved here at all. If he wanted to give the whole inheritance to only one son that would be just as “fair” since he can leave his money to whomever he pleases. I see no dilemma here except potential squabbling between inheritors over who would be perceived as being treated more “fairly” than the others, but that’s his sons’ problem–not his.

Whatever he does, each child should receive AN EQUAL AMOUNT. Unevenly divided estates only lead to lifelong hard feelings and resentment between the heirs.

But the one who has less could feel robbed by his brothers getting more than they need. No matter what the man decides to do with his money someone could have hard feelings about how the inheritance was divided. It might be a good idea for the father to sit down with his sons before he dies to explain how he means to divide his property and why, so if they want to ask about it or protest, it will all be settled beforehand.

In any event, this is not a matter of moral theology, but of prudential judgment.

A trusted lawyer is what you want. One who knows the situation.

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