Here’s the real life scenario someone I know is facing:
Background: A young woman I know, Joan, is in her late 20s. She married several years ago and just had their first child. They both work FT and have supported themselves since they got married, including paying for post-grad education. Her husband earned his Master’s degree a year ago, and Joan will finish up her degree in the fall. They’re working tirelessly to save up enough for their first home and both drive cars that are 10+ years old.
A decade ago, as part of their very acrimonious divorce, Joan’s parents agreed to split the cost of her undergrad degree 50% each. Both parents are professionals working for the same company known for its great benefits (and retirement plan), but she makes twice what he makes.
While the mother paid off her half of the tuition as it accrued courtesy of her well-to-do parents, the father had to take out loans and is still paying on them to this day. There’s about $30k left, and we know this because he brings it up to them, and me, often. He also made some bad financial decisions, including the option to buy her out of the marital home, right before the housing crisis. He also lost about $30k on that deal, too.
Note that Joan could have gotten a full ride to her local college, but chose another college in large part due to the parent’s very bitter divorce, which included cheating on the mother’s part. So, to put it mildly, the father is bitter about a lot of things.
In any event, last year Joan’s mother’s great Aunt died childless, and left a sizeable inheritance to Joan’s mother, half of which she is gifting to Joan in annual installments of $30k. Joan is due to receive her first installment in a few months.
While he is well aware that Joan will inherit 1/8 of a fortune following the death of her 80ish grandparents, Joan’s father knows nothing of this unexpected windfall.
So, here’s the dilemma: Is Joan under any moral obligation to pay off her father’s portion of the education loan that he is still paying, on her behalf? Like I said, they both need new cars, need to save for a DP on a home, and just gave birth to their first child. So some big expenditures are on their horizon.