Would it be better to borrow money from an elderly relative than from a bank?
As most people said, family loans are dangerous to the relationship. The lender should not lend more than they are willing to forgive, and the borrower should not borrow more than they are very certain they can repay.
I would suggest a few things to consider:
- The amount should be small enough that it will not impact their ability to pay bills within the life of the loan. (And be pessimistic about how long it will take to pay back for the purpose of this test.)
- The amount should be small enough that you will be able to pay it off quickly; ie. this should be a very short-term loan.
- You should pay them at least as much as they would otherwise make on the money.
- Defaulting on the loan is not an option. Even if you go through bankruptcy and are legally allowed... this is family, and you gave your word.
Anecdote: I borrowed some money from my grandfather when I graduated from college to help with cash flow for an apartment, vehicle, etc. It was about 5% of my starting annual salary and I paid it back quickly and with interest.