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Thread: Inheritance etiquette?

  1. #1
    ColdCouch
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    Inheritance etiquette?

    I saw a story in the paper the other day and it made me wonder: if you have a child (or children) from a previous marriage, but are married (or maybe not legally married but simply partnered up with a different man/woman long term), what is the proper "inheritance etiquette" (for lack of a better term) in terms of diving up money and resources?

    I know different states and places have different laws in terms of how to legally divide up things when wills are contested, but I'm talking more about setting up a will for your partner but having to think about your children whom you did not have with your partner. What's the "right" thing to do?

    I would think if you truly loved your partner, just like with any will, you would see them as equal thus want to take care of them first before your children. The money and assets usually go towards the spouse/partner first, no? I mean, it usually does when the two people SHARE the child/ren in common, because then you assume the remaining parent will then pass on the money and assets again finally to the children when they die.

    But in today's world there are so many mixed families and such, that I just wonder how people do it. How do you take care of a person you partner up with and make sure they are cared after, yet still make sure your own children don't get left out, too? Do you divide things equally amongst them all? But is that fair? Do you have the mentality "they will always be my kids and the partner is replaceable, thus the kids get most, if not all of, the money and resources?" But then again if I was the partner, I'd be insulted and wonder why I was even with the other person if they neglect to take care of me in the will when they pass on. If they value their children over me and leave me high and dry, it would make me question the relationship and how much they really saw me as an equal and loved me.

    So what do you all think? How would you do things? (This scenario is assuming, too, that the couple do not share any children together whatsoever.)

  2. #2
    Clio
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    Imo, everyone should get something. However, who gets what would depend on several circumstances that you do not mention in your scenario. The new partner would not take precedence by default nor get to control everything left behind. Imo, thoughts along the line of expecting their partner to "take care of them first before the children" would indicate feelings of rivalry against the children and some kind of imbalance in the partnership (e.g. lack of trust to said partner and someone used to being financially supported and feeling entitled to it). Imo, both kinds of relationships are equally important i.e. the children are not more important than a long-term spouse but also a long-term spouse is not more important than the children. At the end of the day, what each one feels is fair is very subjective and there is no one answer. Personally, I would make sure that the partner is not uprooted and that they remain financially supported but not to the point where they get to spend money on luxury cruises while the children struggle financially. P.S. If I was the long-term new partner and had these kind of questions, I would make sure that I have that discussion asap and clarify their intentions so as to be able to make corresponding provisions for the future.
    Last edited by Clio; 10-06-2017 at 05:55 AM.

  3. #3
    ColdCouch
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    Inheritance etiquette?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clio [Register to see the link]
    Imo, everyone should get something. However, who gets what would depend on several circumstances that you do not mention in your scenario. The new partner would not take precedence by default nor get to control everything left behind. Imo, thoughts along the line of expecting their partner to "take care of them first before the children" would indicate feelings of rivalry against the children and some kind of imbalance in the partnership (e.g. lack of trust to said partner and someone used to being financially supported and feeling entitled to it). Imo, both kinds of relationships are equally important i.e. the children are not more important than a long-term spouse but also a long-term spouse is not more important than the children. At the end of the day, what each one feels is fair is very subjective and there is no one answer. Personally, I would make sure that the partner is not uprooted and that they remain financially supported but not to the point where they get to spend money on luxury cruises while the children struggle financially. P.S. If I was the long-term new partner and had these kind of questions, I would make sure that I have that discussion asap and clarify their intentions so as to be able to make corresponding provisions for the future.
    Good take on things, thanks. I don't know what other circumstances you are looking for to elaborate on. I was just throwing out a general scenario. When my father died he left everything to his new wife and screwed my brother and I over, which is why I asked. We got nothing nor did we contest anything because his wife didn't like us. Then in this newspaper story it was the opposite: the husband left $5k to his wife so she could have money to "relocate out of the house" and gave the daughter everything else.

    As the child who got screwed over, I don't think a spouse should get everything. Yet, after reading the other news story, I don't think it is fair for the spouse to get uprooted out of their home so the kid can have it all, either. If you helped build a life with your spouse, how would you think that's being "entitled?" If anything, expecting to get an inheritance just because you are the (adult) child of a parent is more of a situation of feeling entitled, I would think.

    Anyway, both situations are imbalanced. But it's difficult to decide as well. I don't know what I'd do if I was in that situation. But I do know how it feels to be someone who was forgotten about by a parent. You feel betrayed. But on the flip side, I'd feel betrayed, too, if my husband left everything to the children and nothing to me. It would make me wonder why he didn't just live with his children and make a home with them instead. It would show me he didn't value the relationship as much as he claimed to. You can't call someone a wife or husband and then treat them as if they are not equals.

    Also, if I was that woman in the story and my husband told me "when I die you get $5k to relocate and the rest goes to my daughter," I would immediately buy a lotto ticket every day. And if the day came where I miraculously won millions of dollars, I'd cut my so-called husband a check for $5k and tell him "here's your share! Now watch me as I go relocate without you!"
    Last edited by ColdCouch; 10-06-2017 at 08:18 AM.

  4. #4
    ~Seraphim ~
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    My mother is remarried . Her assets are left to me and my brother . My stepdad his assets are left to his kids. Work and government pensions cannot be left to children so those are left to the spouses .

  5. #5
    ColdCouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Seraphim ~ [Register to see the link]
    My mother is remarried . Her assets are left to me and my brother . My stepdad his assets are left to his kids. Work and government pensions cannot be left to children so those are left to the spouses .
    Cool. Thanks for the info!

  6. #6
    j.man
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    IMO, spouses-- particularly those not the parent of one's children-- are who you have life insurance clauses, survivor's benefits, etc for. Inheritance is for the children.

    If you're coming into a mixed family, simple solution is to not become financially dependent on your spouse. Their children likely will and in fact should come first. That's a reality you need to take in before entering such a relationship, much less marrying into it.

    Even in cases where the children aren't old enough to manage their inheritance themselves, I'd consider a responsible and emotionally invested biological relative to be a more ideal "trickle down" source than a former step-parent.

  7. #7
    lukeb
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    Quote Originally Posted by j.man [Register to see the link]
    If you're coming into a mixed family, simple solution is to not become financially dependent on your spouse. Their children likely will and in fact should come first. That's a reality you need to take in before entering such a relationship, much less marrying into it.
    No I don't believe that, but as Clio was saying it depends on the circumstances. Children should be considered, but ultimately your spouse comes first. There are many different scenarios. One could be that as a result of the marriage you are able to pool resources and be able to collect assets much faster. Children from previous relationships have no right really to that enrichment. This is basically what it ultimately comes down to whether something is "unfair" enrichment.

  8. #8
    ColdCouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by j.man [Register to see the link]
    IMO, spouses-- particularly those not the parent of one's children-- are who you have life insurance clauses, survivor's benefits, etc for. Inheritance is for the children.

    If you're coming into a mixed family, simple solution is to not become financially dependent on your spouse. Their children likely will and in fact should come first. That's a reality you need to take in before entering such a relationship, much less marrying into it.

    Even in cases where the children aren't old enough to manage their inheritance themselves, I'd consider a responsible and emotionally invested biological relative to be a more ideal "trickle down" source than a former step-parent.
    Thanks for the input. But what about situations where there is no life insurance policy or pension? I wonder what happens then....

  9. #9
    indea08
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    I think it's your money, you leave it to whoever the he|| you want.

    If I die and my daughter is 6 years old, I would leave everything to my husband because I know that he will take care of her.

    If I die and my daughter is 35 years old, I'd probably give most everything to my daughter and leave my husband with our retirement and my life insurance money to cover my funeral.

    There is no one right answer. You just do what you feel is best for your situation.

  10. #10
    ~Seraphim ~
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    I know for myself there are things my mother has that had ZERO to do with my step father. They were given to her by my biological father . ( my mom married my stepdad when I was a grown adult of 27 . And he has been a wonderful influence in my life and better to me than my own father ) however I still don't think he is entitled to things that belonged to my mother decades before he entered her life .

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