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Writing a Will - how to split estate between DS and step children?(33 Posts)
Currently struggling with being "fair" but also ensuring DS is not disadvantaged.
DH & I have been together for 23 years. We have one DS together who is currently 7. DH also has DD and DS who are in their late 20's. DD is settled, married with 2 children, rents via local authority. DS is single and less settled, lurches from job to job, currently flat sharing a private rental.
So, DH & I own our house, est value £350K+ with less than £100K left on mortgage. Other loans/credit cards would be covered by savings but nothing left over. We have private pensions but not sure what these would pay out if we died before pensionable age.
As DSC are adults and DS is a minor we are thinking that we should just leave everything to DS to ensure that he is provided for, and then review our Wills once he is 21. However this seems really unfair to DSC if we were to die before the review. I'm really struggling with it and can't come up with any reasonable alternatives.
Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions that I could consider please?
I think you can place it all in a trust till he's an adult an then it's split. With his guardian having access to it to provide for him.
Split it equally between your dh's three children. There is no other fair way.
Our wills are my 50% share are for our DC but will be split differently so birth DC gets 50% and the four foster DC will get 25 % of the remaining 50%, and DPs is for DSC and DC. So his is split between 3 DC only (as foster DC will inherit from their Dad) Our DD will get 50% from me and 25% from DP to reflect she will only inherit from us.
Who ever dies first their share is held in trust and the surviving person has a right to the home until they die or their share is needed for a care home.
I'm glad not to be in this position and I'd certainly hope that it never comes to fruition for you but the way I'd look to do it would be to divide the house in 2 (yours and DH's)
Yours - to your son
DH's - divided between his three children (so 50%/3 = 16.6% each)
DSC would therefore receive 16.6% each (which given they will potentially inherit from their other side, I could live with), and your DS would receive 66.6% of the house.
Alternately you could figure out a split that both you and DH are happy with (i.e. 50% to DS, 25% each to DSC?)
Or... you could divide it three ways equally. However I disagree with bibbity that this is the only "fair way". That disregards the fact that DSC stand to inherit elsewhere, but your DS will not.
If your dh leaves his half of the house to only one child and disinherits the others, please at least leave a letter explaining why or tell the others beforehand. It causes untold hurt.
Only way i'd ever consider would be his half to his kids (3 way split) your half to yours. No favouritism. But i see your problem in case you both die before your youngest is 18 (i wouldnt say 21). Do you have life insurance or would the pension pay a dependents pension? Where would he live/who with?
So what if the dsc stand to inherit elsewhere? Does that mean op's dh is not their father?
We have an insurance policy set up specifically to pay out for DSD, who doesn't live with us, if DH dies. The country/ state we live in requires it, but it seems like a good idea anyway since she will have no use for a part share in a house hundreds of miles away from where she lives, so DS will inherit the house and she can have the insurance policy.
Does that mean op's dh is not their father - that's not what I've said anywhere bibbity. Are you are being deliberately obtuse? My suggestion was that the DH's "share" of the house be divided equally amongst his 3 children.
My point is that the DSC have two separate parental pools of assets - they stand to inherit not just from their father, but from their mother as well. Would it be "fair" to give them a third of this house and then see them potentially inherit further assets from their mother's side if the OP and her DH's DS will only inherit from his parents i.e. this house?
It is absolutely NOT fair to currently spilt your estate 3 ways. Your DS is a child with no earning potential. Your adult step children are able to make their own way and earn their own money. Whether they do or not is their own concern. Your DS needs to get through childhood. He needs clothes, shelter, things for school, to (possibly) get through university. He currently needs the lion's share of your estate.
When he has finished education then you could revisit your wills.
I have a DSD who is 18 and 2 children with my DH (11 and 8). If DH and I die together then DSD will inherit 24% of our estate while our two will inherit 38% each. My DD is 10 years younger than DSD so while DD is starting university, DSD will already be about 5 years into her career.
Once our youngest has finished education then DH has said he'd like us to revisit it but TBH I won't budge on those figures as I also don't think it's fair to split it 3 equal ways for a number of reasons. 24% is the most DSD will get from our estate.
Split equally is the only way.
My dh will be in this position, his parents split, remarried and had kids.
he is left out of anything financial, they are all rich in comparison to us from money off parents.
They have openly discussed wills with us and dh loses out on both sides.
good job he's not materialistic and governed by money. it must sting like mad though.
Why write two versions of a will, put the money in trust and split three ways then you never have to deal with wills again.
The other parent of the step children could be in social housing for all we know. Would you change the will to give more to one if one step child becomes a disabled lone parent in social housing?
I'd treat your own DS as inheriting your full share of assets and his children inheriting his share (so, split three ways).
Overall, it would end up with your DS getting 4/6 (so, 2/3) and the older siblings 1/6 each of the overall assets.
I'd think that would be fair, as his children also inherit on their mother's side.
Unless you want to treat your step children as your own, in which case I'd split it three ways, which might be fairer if their mother happens to have substantially less assets.
But, while your DS is a child, and you're worried about his welfare, I'd set up a trust to guarantee his maintenance at least until he'd finish university in a reasonable time, as you would if you had been alive. But, it might be better in that regard, if you would set up life insurance with him as your beneficiary.
Why do people think an equal split is fair, though? DSC will presumably inherit from their DM as well.
I'd do as pp suggest - your DHs share is split 3 ways between his DCs and your share goes to your only DC.
I'd add into the equation that the DSCs have another parent too. If she owns a property they may inherit their too, leaving your DS worse off of the three if your property is split three ways.
If their mother has a property and no other children or one other child, I think 50% to your DS, and 25% each for the other two is the fairest split.
I have two brothers in my dads side and a brother and sister from my mom.
My mom and dad will be splitting everything give ways.
I would be heartbroken to get two sixth while my siblings got one.
It would make me feel like such a shit.
It would feel like my parents didn't see us as one family.
I don't care what my siblings might inherit from elsewhere.
In our family we are all equal
Your joint DS receives 100% of your 'half' of the estate plus 1/3 of your DH's 'half' of the estate. Then the step children each receive 1/3 of your DH's 'half' of the estate.
So in total, your joint DS received 4/6 and the other two receive 1/3 each.
OP I'm a willwriter and this scenario comes up all the time.
The aim is always to write wills which are fair to everyone. Unfortunately an equal split in these circs, whilst it looks fair at first glance, doesn't actually achieve equality in reality if both parents die whilst the youngest child is little. That child needs financial support for a certain number of years because obviously they can't work. Therefore an equal split means that much if not all of their share is eaten up before they're of age. So their adult siblings, who have already been supported to age 18/21, then also inherit a chunk of cash in their late 20s.
That's the first inequality.
The second is that, as PPs have pointed out, the elder two are likely (although I appreciate this isn't guaranteed), to inherit from their other parent.
In these circumstances, depending on the size of the estate, number of children and the elder children's ages/financial status, I frequently advise that the clients make initial wills which would be appropriate for the time being on the basis that once the youngest child is 21, the wills are revised/rewritten.
So these initial wills should give unequal shares to the children for the reasons set out above, and then once all of them are over 21, the updated wills split the joint estate equally.
OP, you and your husband also need to consider making life interest in possession trusts. These would prevent the survivor of the two of you making a new will after the death of the first person (which usually gives everything to the survivor in the first instance), then making a new will cutting out the older children.
There's an article on how these trusts work on my website; PM me if you'd like a link.
I do appreciate it's a tricky one though - it's not just arithmetic, it can get very emotional.
How about everything is nominally split into two to represent yours and DH's assets. Then DSCs and DS get a third each of DH's half and DS gets all of yours?
Split everything equally once your child is 18
They are all your children
Otherwise they will all have a bust up when you and your husband die
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