DEAR HARRY: We have run into an important dilemma. A member of our church has left the church a bequest of about $750,000. However, it is widely known that he was a loan shark. There have been rumors of other unlawful and antisocial activity. Questions have been raised about whether we should accept the money. We are not a wealthy church, but we are above water.
Our pastor has indicated that he sees the problem, but that we should accept the money as approval of this man's moving toward leaving a better legacy at the end of his life. Others in important church positions disagree. I waver. I think very highly of the ethics and compassion you have displayed over the years. Help me decide.
WHAT HARRY SAYS: Thanks for those very kind words. One factor you did not mention is where the $750,000 goes if you reject it. If it will go to a less-worthy cause, you have another reason to accept it.
I see this will as an attempt to leave a memory of generosity rather than racketeering. It's a move to clean up tainted money. But you may not get to use it all, because income taxes may be due for past years. So keep it closed up tight for another three years. Please let me know the ultimate outcome.
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