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Former caretaker wants to spend money with a 'good' conscience

Widowed neighbor left money to caretaker with the purpose of doing something "good."

Daily News personal finance columnist Harry Gross
Daily News personal finance columnist Harry GrossRead more

DEAR HARRY: About 15 years ago, a neighbor became a widower and he relied a great deal on me for help. Either my wife or I called him daily to check on him. We did errands for him as well. He had no children or siblings. His nearest relative was his wife's cousin, from whom he was estranged. He died in February and left his entire estate to animal-protection agencies and to me. My share came to a little more than $170,000. My problem is that the will said: Do something good with it. I want to use the money to pay off my children's college debt of about $114,000 and buy a new car to replace my 2005 Chevy. Am I restricted in some way by that statement in the will?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Just what did he mean by "good"? He certainly knew about charities by leaving money for animal protection. This would indicate to me that he wanted you to use the money for good purposes for you. You have chosen very worthwhile ways to use most of the money even though they may not appear so to others. In addition, I do not see this statement as anything more than an admonition to put it to good use. In my judgment, there is no reason for you not to use some of the remainder for a vacation or some other personal pleasure.