The Moneyist: ‘I feel betrayed.’ My husband is splitting his estate between me and his daughter — should I find another man?

The Moneyist: ‘I feel betrayed.’ My husband is splitting his estate between me and his daughter — should I find another man?

13 Jan    Finance News

Dear Moneyist,

My husband and I live in Minnesota. My husband’s only child lives in Tennessee with her husband and their daughter. They both have very good incomes. I am an only child and, when my parents die, I will have no family at all. When I married my husband, I assumed he and I were now a family and would always look out for each other.

Also see: ‘My husband’s kids hate me and refused to come to our wedding, yet he is leaving them all his property.’ How can I negotiate to secure my future?

I recently found out that he is leaving half of all his assets to his daughter and half to me. I have always had my husband as 100% beneficiary on all my assets. Now I feel like a third wheel and feel like he and I are not really family. I feel betrayed. The way I feel may be wrong, but it is still the way I feel. I am very depressed about this.

My parents are leaving everything to each other and, when they are gone, whatever is left will go to me. So it took me by surprise that my husband is not doing the same. And women with children that I work with are doing it that way also. They told me that if they found out their husbands were only leaving half to them and the other half to their kids, they would be very angry.

I can’t help but think that — even though I am now 63 — there may be a man out there looking for someone to marry and have as his family.

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Dear T.S.,

Your are equating your husband’s estate plans with his level of love for you. If he is only leaving you 50% of his assets, does that mean he loves you less? Even 50% less? Does that mean he doesn’t fully have your back? That might be how it feels now, but that doesn’t make it true.

One could argue you are doing exactly what you accuse him of doing: making money a barometer of how much you love each other. If you don’t receive 50% of his assets, does that mean you love him less? Even 50% less? Does that mean you don’t have his back anymore?

Also see: As a baby boomer, I didn’t grow up with this culture of entitlement — do I have to leave my estate to my children or spouse?

I frequently received letters from second spouses about their stepchildren’s inheritance. Some are more generous than others. But it’s not unusual for a husband or wife to leave his/her spouse a percentage of the estate and the rest to their own children. It also makes good sense.

If your husband died without a will, Minnesota intestate law would award you the first $225,000 of that intestate property and 50% of the balance. So you would actually fare better if he were to die without a will. But that’s why people make wills: to make sure their wishes are carried out.

It’s natural for a person to make sure their spouse is taken care of and won’t be left out on the street after they’re gone, and assuming that you will have enough money to live on and a place to live, I don’t see why he should make a choice between you and his daughter.

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Looking for a new husband because you won’t receive 100% of your husband’s estate when he passes away strikes me as an overreaction, at best. What were your expectations going into this marriage? Did financial security figure into your decision to marry him?

Do you co-own the family home? If he bought that before you married and it’s only his name on the deed, will you have a life tenancy where you can live there — and, in the event you predecease his daughter, she would inherit it? These are fair questions to ask.

But this is also a good time to ask questions of yourself.

Also see: I discovered through that my biological father is someone else — can I claim an inheritance as his heir?

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook FB, +1.51%  group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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