Need help with knowing what's fair with regard to DSS and wills...

(38 Posts)
CaptainBinker Fri 04-Oct-13 23:55:05

DH and I are looking to get wills written - we should've done it ages ago but kept forgetting blush

We are thinking of getting mirror wills (i.e. when one of us dies, the other inherits the whole estate) but are struggling with what to do about our children.

DH has a son from a previous relationship and we have a daughter together. DH is planning to split his estate 50:50 between DSS and DD, whereas I'm not sure what to do. I certainly don't want to leave DSS out of my will but I am aware that he also has his mum's side of the family to inherit from whereas DD will inherit solely from DH and I.

I was thinking maybe an 80:20 split of my estate between DD and DSS? So overall that'd mean that DD got 65% of our combined estate and DSS would get 35%.

However DH is a little hesitant about this because he's always tried to treat DSS and DD equally and he's worried that because we both work, have savings and own property, that DD will be much better off than DSS whose mum and stepdad are not in work and therefore unable to save etc so DSS won't inherit much from them.

My argument to DH is that if one of us ends up needing care then that could wipe out all of our inheritance anyway so how much it's looking likely to be may be irrelevant, and that although I don't want to leave DSS out of my will, I just don't feel like it's fair on DD if her mum's estate is shared but his mum's isn't...?

Not sure if all that makes sense and I hate even thinking about things like this. I realise that it's my estate and I can do what I want with it but it's so hard to find an agreement that we both think is fair...opinions please!

SatinSandals Sat 05-Oct-13 07:57:00

I would ask a solicitor, they often come up with a suggestion that you haven't thought about.
It all seems to depend on who dies first. If you die first then DH leaves it equally but if he dies first your joint child gets the bulk.
If I was your DH I would get it drawn up so there is some sort if trust because I would want my children treated equally and wouldn't take into account anything on the mother's side.

CaptainBinker Sat 05-Oct-13 08:06:07

That's a good point, I'm sure we're not the first couple that a solicitor will have seen in this position!

I would 100% honour anything that DH put into his will regarding DSS, as would DH regarding my wishes so no worries there about who dies first as the eventual outcome would be the same whichever way it happens.

SatinSandals Sat 05-Oct-13 08:26:48

From your point if view you might want to have monies set aside for your DC before you do the share out. Only a solicitor could sort it and it must, as CB says, be a common problem.

purpleroses Sat 05-Oct-13 11:45:41

I think it's hard to say you'd honour whatever your DP wanted in his will if you were to outlive him by several decades. It's hard to know what would happen to your life - new DH, maybe even new DCs, grandchildren, needing care, drifting apart from DSS and not really feeling like family to him any more, inheriting money yourself that gets pooled with your joint finances, etc, etc. Might be better if you can to separate off the money he wants to leave to DSS and leave it direct, and then the money he leaves to you is agreed to be for you to leave as you wish - ie probably all to DD. But that's obviously not so good if it would see you out of a home in the meantime.

hermioneweasley Sat 05-Oct-13 11:51:56

I am very clinical about this - DSS is not your financial responsibility. As you say he has his mother's family to inherit from. If DSS's mother was wealthy would DH reduce DSS's share of his estate to makeit fair on your DD? I suggest he would not. If your parents leave you an inheritance would they be happy for 20% of it to go to DSS or would they want it to all go to their GC?

I think it should go your DH 50:50 between his kids (or equal portions if you have more kids) and your estate goes to your DD. if you want to leave DSS something you could leave him a fixed sum and/or items you know he would value, but I wouldn't leave him a percentage.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 12:02:40

Did you bring up your DP's son, or only know him as an adult?

Maybe you could leave DSS 50$ of your DP's share and 20% of yours. I think you should honour your DP's view about treating both children equally.

I think the issue of other relatives is a red herring.

While your DSS will have his mother's side to inherit from, it sounds like the will inherit nothing from them as they don't actually have anything. Therefore in terms of how much they inherit, your plan would leave them unevenly provided for.

TheWinterOne Sat 05-Oct-13 12:14:59

DH and I have spoken about this and thankfully he agrees with me. His will be split between his 5 children and mine with my 4. Reason being that the DSC will have off their mum's side too.

DH understands this and has openly said he doesn't expect me to include the DSC in mine - as I don't expect him to include my DD in his.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Sat 05-Oct-13 12:21:59

It depends really when you became involved in DSS's life, and how much time he lives with you. If you've had him living with you for most of the time since he was a young child, it's very different to alternate weekends as a late teenager or only meeting him as an adult.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 12:23:11

Yes totally agree Deer. If it was the former, you should treat him as your child.

TheWinterOne Sat 05-Oct-13 12:31:57

I can see your point, Deer. If DSC are residing with you and you have practically been involved in their day to day upbringing from a very young age then the dynamic of a will is slightly different.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 12:50:51

And wills are not just about money. They are often emotional too. So if a child had been brought up in your home and you ignored them in the will or tteated them less favourably than your biological children, they may understandably interpret that as they are less important to you and less loved.

needaholidaynow Sat 05-Oct-13 13:10:43

My DP finds it difficult to understand that if we had an estate, my half would go to DS1 and DS2, but I would expect him to split his half between DSD and the boys.

As I see it, they only have one home. DSD has two homes. So she has her mum and her dad to inherit from. Why shouldn't I give everything I have my own children?

Say I was to inherit my Dad's house, that would be mine. I would then pass it on to my two children 50/50. My DP and DSD wouldn't see any of it.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 13:12:03

I am with your DP. You are treating your DSD different to your own two children and thus saying that DSD is much less important to you.

quoteunquote Sat 05-Oct-13 13:13:07

It all depends on how you want the siblings to regard each other when you are both gone. what you do will effect that,

I have been with my husband since my eldest was two, he has left everything split equally between all three children, he and DS1 think of each other as family, DS1 may or may not get something from else where, we do not know, so DH wants to make sure it is all fair.

I've seen some really horrid fallings out over the years, in split families, so we decided to keep it fair.

DS1 would never say anything, but I know he would be really hurt and feel rejected, if he got left out in anyway, we would never risk his ever feeling sad about anything. He adores his siblings, and we hope when we are gone they will keep up good relationships, I would hate to jeopardise that in anyway. I can't imagine his siblings resenting him being included in anything.

It's only money, feeling are far more important.

cathpip Sat 05-Oct-13 13:13:47

My dh and I have mirror wills, if I die first it all goes to dh bar specifics like my engagement ring which I have left to my dd and vice versa for my dh. I have a dss and he is included in the will and when the last parent dies the estate gets split equally between all three children. My view being that I married my dh knowing and accepting that he had a son, they came as a package, my dss will inherit eventually of his mum and it could make him better off than my children but so be it. It does help that my dss has always been a delightful lad and who is now turning into a lovely young man, for which his mother (even though we don't really get on) has done a fabulous job, he also loves his brother and sister and they think he is the best thing since sliced bread! Maybe if he was an absolute git I would think very differently.

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Sat 05-Oct-13 13:15:06

I think if you've raised children, biological/step/whatever, you should treat them equally. The difference is if a step child is/was entirely/almost entirely raised by the other parent.

needaholidaynow Sat 05-Oct-13 13:16:24

How am I Grennie? The children all have 2 parents. Anything in my name would go to my children. I wouldn't expect DSD's mum to split DSD's inheritance from her with my boys.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 13:23:41

DSD spends her time split between 2 different households. Presumably her mum's boys don't spend time split between two different households? So it is not comparable.

I am with Deer. If you raise a child, you treat them all the same. Wills cause so much upset. And often it is not so much about the money, but simply people thinking that means they weren't loved as much or as important to those who died, because they were left out of the will.

LtEveDallas Sat 05-Oct-13 13:33:21

We've not long done ours (thanks to the MNer Mumblechum, who provides an excellent service btw smile)

DH and I are split 50/50. His 50% is divided between DSD and DD. My 50% goes to DD. Unless we both die when DD is under 18, in which case DSD has a smaller % and the remaining monies go to DDs guardian to bring her up.

DSD is an adult now, so it was a lot easier to justify. It would have been harder if she was also a child. But I still think we would have gone with the % split. As much as I love her, it's not up to me to provide for DSD, she has a mum of her own for that.

LtEveDallas Sat 05-Oct-13 13:36:40

Oh, and you can get a paragraph added to a will that purposefully explains why the will is written as it is, explains that it has nothing to do with how 'loved' the recipients are. But rather how 'fair' it is to be split that way (again, thanks to Mumblechum for adding and explaining this)

needaholidaynow Sat 05-Oct-13 13:58:42

As much as I love her, it's not up to me to provide for DSD, she has a mum of her own for that.

Exactly. As a mum it's my duty to make sure that my children are ok when I die. It's up to my DSD's mum to do the same for her.

Otherwise DSs will get a little bit off me and a little bit off their dad. Compared to DSD getting a little bit off me, her dad, her mum and her stepdad.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 14:04:59

I would be gutted if my parents treated my step brothers like this.

But your will, up to you.

needaholidaynow Sat 05-Oct-13 14:15:08

I would be gutted if my step siblings had a lot more than me because they had 4 adults to inherit from, as opposed to me who would have a bit off 2.

needaholidaynow Sat 05-Oct-13 14:15:50

Where's the balance?

HarlotOTara Sat 05-Oct-13 16:59:22

I have a step-son, and two daughters, one with my dh and one who is his step-daughter. My dh and I are leaving everything to be divided between the three of them. They are all part of our family and we feel should be treated equally by both of us. I think anything else would be very hurtful.

Heymacarena Sat 05-Oct-13 20:36:59

It's a tricky thing to work out - and of course, all families operate differently.

Me and DH haven't yet made our wills. blush

We should though. He has 2 DSs and I have 1 DS.

We did make a start on making a will, and had a little bit of advice re this.

Basically if I die first, then DH gets the house paid off. DS gets my cash.
If DH goes first, then I get the house paid off. His DSs get his cash.

Haven't worked it out properly really yet, but must do soon.

I don't plan to leave money to the stepsons, nor does DH plan to leave any to my son. Seems fair to me.

CaptainBinker Sat 05-Oct-13 21:13:57

Wow, lots of differing opinions, all of which I can agree with in some way or another. It's such a minefield.

On one hand I can see the argument of DD receiving some of my estate and my DH's too, but DSS receiving some of mine, some of DH's, all of his mum's and his stepdad's too as they have no other children.

Plus what DH and I have is all they will get in the future... No inheritance coming from mine or DH's parents to pass down whereas I think DSS' mum will be sole beneficiary of quite a big estate at some point.

Plus like others said, a few years of care could wipe it all out!

Aargh it's so hard!

hermioneweasley Sat 05-Oct-13 21:19:54

If DSS is due to inherit from his mum and step dad, I definitely wouldn't leave a %age of your estate. As I said before perhaps some meaningful items or a small lump sum of cash. He has a mother and your responsibility is to your DC.

Liara Sat 05-Oct-13 21:28:05

In case this is useful, I'll tell you my situation.

My mother has several dc, from two different men. My father has died, my sf has not. He is wealthy.

My siblings stand to inherit from him, I did not inherit from my father.

My mother has set up her will so that all her dc will inherit equally. It means that the dc who are the children of my sf will inherit much more than me, as they will inherit from their father too. However, a very small asset that used to be my father's will be left to me and her other dc with him, and not be split between all, as if we had inherited it directly from him.

This seems totally fair to me. It is the luck of the draw that my father was skint and my sf rich. It is not for my mother to try and balance things out in some hypothetical future.

And the emotional impact of being treated worse than someone else a parent's will outweighs all other considerations. I have seen families where people felt they have been mistreated in a will and the fallout is not pretty. It is often not about money, but about feeling that you are (and always have been) 'second best'.

Frankly I'd much rather have my father around than any money. I would in fact happily support him if he was alive, and I hope my mother gets to live long enough that she uses all her savings and we end up supporting her too.

Sadly, that choice is not often given to us.

Grennie Sat 05-Oct-13 21:37:04

I agree 100% that it is about emotions, not money. Most of the fall outs I have witnessed around wills, are at bottom about this. For example, my uncle when he died left much more to 1 daughter tahn the other three. His reasoning was that 2 of his daughters were settled and financially stable. The third daughter and her children struggled in poverty.

Although it made sense financially, the other 2 daughters took it as "proof" that their father loved 1 of them more than the other 2. It caused major hurt that I am sure he would not have wanted to cause.

I thought that if the estate all passes to the surviving spouse, the estate will then be disposed according to the surviving spouse's estate. Therefore if say your estate was worth £100000 then under your current plan if you die first, when your dh dies the £100000 will be split £50000 each. If your dh dies first, when you then die then your will is enacted and your dd gets £80000 and dss recieves £20000. If you are wanting to safeguard your/his portion then you will need to leave your halves directly to the children but maybe giving the spouse a lifetime interest in the property so that you can continue to live there.

Xalla Sun 06-Oct-13 07:48:27

I take a very clinical attitude towards this too.

My estate will be divided between my 3 biological children.

My DH's estate will be divided between his 4 biological children.

I currently pay equal amounts into my DSD's savings account each week as I do my own children and I will continue to do so until she leaves full-time education. That's as far as I'm going with regards to financially providing for DSD outside assisting my DH in providing for her immediate needs when she's with us.

What I have is for my DC. 100% of it, my hard work is for them. At the moment DH has an amount ring-fenced for his DD to pay out maintenance with her getting the remainder at 18. This was a good solution for us as our DC are younger and their need is greater. He can change this as they all grow older and circumstances change however he is a lazy git and probably won't

PatoBanton Mon 07-Oct-13 10:12:11

This is interesting and complicated.

Ds's father stands to inherit at some point but he has remarried and I very much doubt that ds would be entitled to any of it if his father died.

I imagine it would all go to his wife and thence to her own children (who are not his).

That makes me quite sad to think of it especially as she is so unkind to ds anyway and his dad gives him the bare minimum of time as well as financial support (£10 a week - based on a completely false earnings statement 5 years ago).

But it's only money.

SignoraStronza Mon 07-Oct-13 11:13:58

DH had been in dd1's life since she was two. We have mirror wills splitting everything equally between the two dcs. It is all about what we feel is the right thing to do and we've never thought to dwell on what dc1 may or may not get from her father.

racmun Wed 09-Oct-13 07:20:17

I did a post about this a month or do ago as dh and I fell out over it. I'm the step mum!

We've done ours now. Ds gets 75% and ss 25%.

The rationale being our ds get all of my 50% and half his dads and ss gets just half of his dads 50%.
I felt very strongly that any Inheritance received should be a reflection of each child's parental financial state, and tbh ss mother won't be leaving anything to my ds in her will.

I can see your step child's mother doesn't work etc but tbh I don't really see why you should be worrying about making up the difference for her at your daighter's expense.

I may sound a bit harsh but we've done a side letter explaining the rationale and left each of then some sentimental items.

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