Another inheritance AIBU(115 Posts)
I'll try to be brief. ExH has terminal cancer and is young (early 40s). We have two DDs, 14yo lives with me and my DH, 16yo lives with ExH and her SM. Both the children have been told that when he dies, everything will be left to their SM with the (unofficial) understanding that she will provide them with financial help through Uni etc. I make no judgement as to whether this will happen or not, I don't know her well enough to be able to gauge this. ExH and wife are v well off.
Whilst I would have been pleased if the children were left something that was categorically 'theirs' I don't think it's any of my business. DH and I will help them with the cost of Uni as much as we are able, or <shock horror> they will have to do what lots of others do and get student loans.
The few (close friends and family) I have discussed this with have all been horrified and have said that, should this happen, I should contest the will on my DDs behalf. I feel really quite icky about this. AIBU to think that, whilst given similar circumstances, I might have made a different decision, it's none of my business?
Your children are old enough to decide if they want the will contested themselves, so I don't think that's a decision you should be making. YANBU
Much of this depends on what the step mum is like. If she is a good person, she will ensure the girls are provided for regardless of how their relationship might go, so there's nothing to worry about. If not, then you have a problem no matter what happens.
Your ex is not doing the right thing here in my opinion, but he has cancer, his life is going to end far too early and ultimately, I think the people around him owe it to him to be supportive rather than question his choices.
I agree with your friends and family, this sends an awful message to the DC. Would speak to your ex, but don't think would contest the will as that could cause big problems.
It sounds like he trusts his wife to do the right thing, perhaps he doesn't want to leave money directly to his DDs as they are so young and there's a chance they could be silly with it instead of using it wisely for university as is his wish.
It is his money and his choice. I would definitely not contest it on their behalf, as you say the worst that could happen is that they will have to take out a loan.
I think this is dreadful! I absolutely would contest the will, in fact I'd be speaking to a solicitor about it now to find out where the children stand legally. He has a moral, and possibly legal, obligation towards his own children; I can't believe he would be giving everything to his wife and leaving out his children completely. And it is your business, it is your responsibility to fight your children's corner, because they are not old enough to do it themselves.
Now if he was leaving it all to charity because he didn't believe in inherited wealth, that would be a different matter...
Does the SM have a will and does she have her own children too?
If my husband were to die before me, everything goes to me, and following my death, it will all be shared equally between my stepchildren as I have no children of my own.
I wouldnt contest the will. That would be wrong.
YANBU.... When there are second marriages, it's pretty normal for money to be designated in trust for any children of previous marriages until they reach majority - often with caveats that money can be used in advance for something like education fees. This gets round the whole thorny business of relying on anyone to keep to vague promises or 'do the right thing' and means everyone knows exactly where they stand. Why not suggest that to your ex while he's still in a position to make that decision? Don't think it would be insulting anyone
It would be foolish to rely on an "understanding" with regard to a will. If your DH wants his DC to be looked after through university or to be provided for through his will, he should state this categorically.
The chap who advised on our wills made us make some quite tough decisions, so there was no ambiguity in them.
I've learnt the hard way that you cannot trust anyone where money is concerned. Your exh is being foolishly naive if he thinks his dw is just going to support your children as he wants her to. Sad but true.
Hopefully she is a nice person and it will all be fine....
I think I would talk to a lawyer. SM might be lovely and intend on doing everything right. Or she might not. Or she might fall under a bus and not have a will and all her money go to her relatives (which your DCs are not). Or gamble all the money away! Or any number of situations which will stop her supporting your DCs unintentionally.
If your Ex is worried about the kids spending the money it can be left in trust to them when they are old enough to have it, with the trustees allowed to spend the money on fees etc. In fact if you can talk to him maybe that would be a good suggestion - put enough money for fees or whatever he thinks the SM will be paying for into trust in his will and then it's not up to any "understanding".
How could a father not leave something to his 2 children in his will, esp when he can afford to? I'm horrified on their behalf. How thoughtless and strange.
If he wants to contribute towards their education etc, he needs to expressly provide for it in his will. I fear they risk getting nothing at all.
What if his wife remarries and dies? Everything could go to her new husband and your DC will get nothing.
Even if she doesn't have any children, what happens if she remarries or dies intestate?
He doesn't need to leave money directly to them at the moment. It can be put in a trust on their behalf
I think yiu must get legal advice on this. Partly to discuss with the solicitor what the "norm" is in these situations. That will help you when discussing with him.
Didn't this happen to Mary Porteous? Her dad remarried after her mother's death. Moved in with SM, left kids in the original house to fend for themselves and then when he died, he left everything to the SM, including the house the children were living in so they ended up homeless too. A dramatic senario which I hope wouldn't be played out in your DDs life but to have it written into the will is vital to protect their interests. If it is written down there is less risk of misinterpretation.
Also makes your DDs think you ExH thinks about their future too not just their SM!
Immamazrd that he is leaving them nothing in the first instance - is there no personal effect that he would like them to have now dpo remember him by?!
I can only assume that, perhaps understandably, he's not quite thought this through.
I think you have a very good mindset OP.
But inheritance issues are so difficult because they are imbued with an emotion that is hard to shake off.
When someone is dead and gone, you do not have them there to explain their motivation. My mum and her siblings fell out over a will, which was entirely down to emotion - "does this mean mum didn't love me as much as X?" - not the facts at all.
My mum and dad (divorced) have always been incredibly open about their wills, even when we were teenagers. So while I may think something is fair/not fair (actually it's their money so I don't care) I always know why they have done it.
When they die, I will not have questions about what they left who and why they did it. I will not think that when my father leaves my stepmum his house that it is anything other than the practical step it is.
Has your DH explained to your DC how his will is set up (they are old enough to understand)? If so, then the worst thing that could happen, which is them thinking he loved his wife more than them as they were left nothing, won't occur.
To me, your DH can, as you say, do what he likes with his money. But it would do his DC a favour if he explains to them so they never equate not being left money with not being loved.
Very difficult one to handle, but maybe you could take the line of speaking/writing and say that whilst you hate the fact that you're all having to consider the situation at this point, you just want clarity for your DC. Perhaps point out that if (God forbid) anything happened to his wife, your children would have nothing left from him. Money put to one side for them to access when they are old enough would seem very sensible, and avoid the possibility of things going wrong. Is he doing anything else for your children - personal letters etc., as maybe if you include this type of thing in the conversation, it doesn't seem so materialistic iykwim. Sorry you're having to deal with this.
I think its misguided to not make specific provision for the dcs in his will, for all the reasons given above. If he was concerned about leaving money to them, it could be put in trust.
I'm sure he wants to trust his wife, but he needs to look after the dds - its not like he can come back and sort it out
Is he leaving everything to his wife with the understanding when he dies, it goes to the children?
That's no different to parents living together, if one dies. Everything normally goes to the other parent. How to ensure she does follow through with passing it onto the children and not change the will to something else is something I would query though.
The best scenario would be houses etc. stay with SM until she passes away or sells. But that he leaves some money/assets to the children of he has any, in trust for when their old enough.
Actually, this is one of those rare examples when the law does allow things to be put right in a will. Your DCs are financially dependent on the dying man, so they can put in a claim to the estate. I'm very surprised his solicitor didn't point this out.
Of course you can't rely on the stepmum for a penny. She will have relations and family of her own to provide for, which is where the assets are destined unless changes are made to the paperwork.
Although I concentrated on the emotional side in my post, I quite agree with other posters that the norm is to leave money on trust for children. If the SM dies, the children may not receive the help your DC expect and your DH wanted - through no fault of her own. Even when people have the best intentions, things don't always work out without proper measures in place.
There are lots of factors. Was he wealthy before he met the SM, or has the money that they have been accumulated jointly while they have been married.
Does he pay maintenance at the moment to you for the 14 yo? If so then, i think if there is no provision made for them in the will then you can actually sue the estate for maintenance.
I know when my DH was sorting out finances for his children we were recommended to take out a life insurance policy specifically for the children, so that if anything happened to him whilst they were in fulltime education (school not uni), there would be some money for them. Otherwise his ex could have claimed a portion of the estate for maintenance.
May be worth checking in the legal forum as I think there has to be some provision for them at their age. This probably wont apply though to the 16 yo if she stays living with her SM.
I can understand your position though.
And, honestly, if I were your children I'd be pretty annoyed that my parents' attitude to my education was 'oh you can get a loan' for, hey, only 75k when the money could be there, but neither parent could be arsed to access it.
Life and people can change drastically, so leaving money in trust is probably the safest option.
It would be nice to know that SM will do the right thing, but say she means well but then meets a new bloke who is unscrupulous (just saying) or simply loose with cash, then what?
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