F o r t u nately, his fledgling ministry found a steadfast benefactor who kicked in
Say, Brother, can you spare a…few thousand bucks? We've all heard about the so-called sandwich generation, many of whom may be celebrating this
When the contributing sibling can afford to provide the help, the arrangement can work out well. (Bonus points when the receiving sibling isn't addicted to gambling, controlled substances or daytime TV.) But in this unforgiving economy, baby boomers in particular are seeing a bump in financial requests from close kin who lost a job, ended a marriage or- sounding familiar yet?-got caught in the housing bubble. And as boomers move beyond their prime earning years, experts say, such requests will likely accelerate.
Case in point:
Which means you probably don't have to look too far down the table to find a struggling sibling. In a recent study by
That financial pressure could make the decision to mix blood and bank accounts that much tougher, emotionally. On the asking side of the equation, say psychologists, the risk includes not only the shame brought on by sibling competition and the resentment of being beholden, but also the prospect that a buttinsky brother or sister will feel justified in doling out heavy doses of advice with their dollars. There's also the "hidden string" factor, where the receivthropy.
ing party is pressured to, say, spend weekends expressing gratitude by cleaning his brother's gutters.
For the giver, problems start with the strong prospect that a family "loan"-especially an undocumented one-can be as good as money flushed. The situation can easily rankle a lender's spouse, who may be less inclined to allocate hardearned assets to a brotherly bailout. But as the economy leaves many Americans struggling to pay for basics like homes, health care and higher education, more will be facing the question of who they are willing to backstop in life- and to what degree.
"I'm definitely seeing more noise and discussion about siblings," says
The calculus becomes cloudier because sibling ties don't always command the same intensity of loyalty and obligation that comes with, say, the mother-child bond. According to the
Enter the burgeoning intrafamily loan business-a handful of do- it-yourself lending firms that try to make the helping process less emotional. The firms say they've facilitated hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of deals between family, friends and even strangers looking for a decent rate of interest. National Family Mortgage, for one, says its sibling-to-sibling refinancing deals have more than doubled since 2009. Whether these so-called peer-topeer companies simply provide paperwork and loan scheduling (LendingKarma.com, Lend- Friend.com) or offer more robust loan "marketplaces," complete with screening and underwriting (LendingClub.com, Prosper.com), they all offer to help lenders formalize the deal, avoid onerous bank fees and sidestep potential gift-tax pitfalls.
But even the companies note that the loans generally aren't backed by collateral, a fact that can create complications. If a borrowing sibling declares bankruptcy, for example, this debt goes to the back of the proverbial line, behind those of secured creditors.
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