CHAPTER 2The Nest That Won't Empty

Lauren, a longtime client, called me in something of a panic one morning, saying she and her husband, John, had gotten an emergency call from their son asking for help. Jeffrey and his wife had tuition coming due for their two children (Lauren's grandchildren), who were attending private colleges, and they needed money to pay the bills. As you can imagine, Lauren was anxious to help because she knows how important education is to her grandchildren's future success. Unfortunately, though, this is not the first time we have received this sort of call from Lauren.

What is interesting about this story is that Lauren and John's son is a highly successful attorney in his early fifties who lives in a beautiful home, enjoys traveling, loves spending time at the couple's second home on the lake, and has been exceedingly generous to the church the family attends. Over the years, mom and dad have always been there to help out when finances got tight for Jeffrey. As usual, my client asks, “Greg, can you help make this happen in the next couple of weeks? The tuition is due by the end of July.” I answer, “Yes, Lauren, of course we can make it happen.” But then I suggest gently that we make it a loan, so Jeffrey has an obligation to pay the money back. And the normal response we receive is, “A loan isn't necessary. Of course they will pay it back, once they get the children out of college.”

I explained that, if Lauren and John passed away before the money ...

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