The Moneyist: My friends raised $15,000 on GoFundMe while I was comatose after an accident. But I inherited $1 million, and my insurance covered the costs


Dear Quentin,

Last month, I was in a terrible accident. Most of the expenses are covered by insurance and a couple months before that, I received almost $1 million from a relative. I had not told anyone about my good fortune nor made any purchases (yet!) that would indicate a change of status. While I was in the ICU and comatose, a friend started a GoFundMe for me.

By the time I found out about it, it was up to $15,000 and over 300 friends, even strangers, had contributed. Several friends gave hundreds of dollars. I asked several more knowledgeable friends about somehow canceling it, and they discouraged that action. Too late! Now not only am I racked with guilt, but I am afraid to make improvements on my house.

I make donations to every GoFundMe that I come across, and I made donations to my favorite causes, but meanwhile there is THAT money. I did one “status update” on Facebook, thanking everyone and mentioning my ego “accepting” help. I am afraid to even look at the total, and have not gone to the site. To make it worse, before this, I was lower-middle-class, and so are many of the friends who gave money.

I am sick at the thought of their sacrifice. I will buy them lunch and drinks when I am on my feet, but what else can I do? I can’t even enjoy the money I received before the accident for fear of upsetting someone.

Ask Before Funding Me

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Dear Funding,

You are still recovering from your accident, and no doubt traumatized by that ordeal. The last thing you need is this hanging over your head. It may have become a proxy for all of the emotional turmoil you endured during and after your accident.

That said, I suggest you rip off the Band-Aid and take action. Tell your friends that you appreciate what they did for you, but your insurance covered most of the costs, and you have an inheritance and more money than you need to get through this.

GoFundMe can also return the money to your friends. You can post another status update to say the gesture meant more than any monetary value, but the insurance has come through, and you have been very fortunate. GoFundMe makes it easy to refund donors.

And, yes, I take your point. Setting up a GoFundMe without the knowledge or permission of a friend or neighbor or coworker is a risky prospect, and should be avoided in most, if not all, instances. In this case, you were in the ICU and sedated, so they can be forgiven for that.

Godspeed with the rest of your recovery.

The Moneyist: My friend set up a GoFundMe to pay for her sick pet, instead of getting a refund on our vacation. I canceled the trip. Who’s right?

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