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to ask about equality of wills in blended families

(42 Posts)
LittleLionMansMummy Wed 02-Mar-16 11:01:16

Partly inspired by another thread.

Dh and I don't have a will in place, partly because we don't know how to begin to do things fairly.

A brief background:

Met 12 years ago, married for 7. He has 2 daughters (one went nc at 14 and is now 18, the other is still very much in our lives but lives with her mum and is now 16) and we have a 5yo ds together. When we met I wasn't earning much but as dh is 10 years older he had a reasonable job and had owned his previous home so had a large lump sum to put down when we moved in together, 40% equity in the house. Over the years my career has taken off and I now earn more than him (twice as much) and pay proportionately more for mortgage and bills etc. The savings all come from my salary but are put in a joint pot with equal access.

He's clear that we are equal owners of the house and our estate should we both die should be equally split. Then we're less clear.

Although he no longer sees one dd (at her instigation), he wouldn't freeze her out and would still wish to see her provided for in his will. I understand this. So he's talked about splitting his 50% two ways for his daughters, leaving all my 50% to our ds. I suppose my issue is one of principle really - he has three dc in total so shouldn't his half be split three ways rather than two? I know ds would receive a larger total chunk of the joint assets but dsds do also have another parent's estate to benefit from whereas ds doesn't. I really don't want to be mercenary and want to try to do things fairly, so wanted to see if there's a consensus among the mn jury. I'm fully prepared to take advice.

I love and am very close to dsd2 (as I was to dsd1 before she went nc) and always ensure she's provided for over and above dh's maintenance. She receives a monthly allowance and gets the same spent on her for presents etc as my ds does. We're also going to continue paying her maintenance directly to dsd when dh is no longer obliged to when she turns 18 as we want to support her through uni.

What have others done in this situation?

PicaK Wed 02-Mar-16 11:07:28

If you both die at the same time then of your joint assests your son getting 50% and your DSDs getting 25% each seems fair.
I would be more concerned about your plans for if just you die or if he dies next week. Then you would need provisions building in
You need mumblechum a mn will writer (pays for proper adverts) to talk it through with.

LittleLionMansMummy Wed 02-Mar-16 11:10:58

Yes I was also wondering what to do in that case. If I died I'd obviously want everything to go to dh until he also dies, but I'd want something to specify that when he dies the estate is split three ways (and presume he'd want the same should he die first).

exLtEveDallas Wed 02-Mar-16 11:12:32

We have done as you would suggest.

DH and I each have 50% of our 'equity'

My 50% goes to DD
His 50% is shared between DD and DSD.

He has two children who deserve an equal share of whatever he has. I have one child who gets everything. His ex has one child who gets everything.

If you want help with will writing send a PM to the MNer Mumblechum who is excellent at this and provides a discount for MNers.

thelittleredhen Wed 02-Mar-16 11:16:19

You also need to consider what would happen if he died first, would you have 25% to each of DSD and 50% to DS?

Also, what if you remarry? Have more children? Would you still pass on some to DSDs when you die?

Would DH be better leaving them a cash gift on his death if he were the first to die?

Basketofchocolate Wed 02-Mar-16 11:19:07

As someone who is step child, until now I'd always thought that my stepdad and mum's wills would give all of us equal shares (not expecting any cash from them by the time they pop off though! But I guess equal rights over possessions or stuff) as he is effectively my dad. Now you've made me doubt it though! I hope he's never thought 'oh, they'll get something from their biological father too so they'll be ok'. It's a tricky one!

I'd want to be considered equal as he brought me up and he's my dad, but yes, guess it's true I do have another parent......

Guess in my mind, none of it was my fault, they did what they did and decided for us to live in a family as if mum and stepdad were our parents so therefore I expect to be treated as much as his daughter as my half sister. answers I'm afraid, but I guess imagine the relationships you are leaving behind. Is your son going to count the others as proper sisters or if your husband died, would he even ever see them again, or something in between? Emotions will be running high if you both died so what feeling do you want to leave - that could be more important than the money? Also, if your husband dies, does it all go to you? In that case, are you going to leave that to his daughters too, or just your son? Or, will it be split between you and the daughters? Will they own half the house, etc.?

Will add that well done for the eldest daughter and yes, do continue. I was there once but now do see my father. Teenage years are hard enough sometimes that simplifying situations and emotions are easier. I went back to contact after several years having noted down all the questions I wanted to ask, but I needed to be grown up to face him and to face and understand the answers.


LittleLionMansMummy Wed 02-Mar-16 11:33:23

That's reassuring Basket as we live in hope re. Dsd1. Not much else we can do as we've fought long and hard and now she's an adult have had to accept it.

As things stand we'd each want the total estate passing over to the remaining one if one of us died and then the total estate splitting three ways upon death of the remaining one.

ZiggyFartdust Wed 02-Mar-16 11:38:34

The thing is that once one dies, the other inherits, and at that point they can do whatever they like with it. AFAIK there is little you can do legally to make them dispose of their property how you want (possibly with complicated trusts maybe?)

Collaborate Wed 02-Mar-16 11:45:31

OP - I think your suggestion is the fairest. The strongest point you make is about your son inheriting from one house, wheres your step daughters also expecting an inheritance from their mother.

If your husband sticks to his plan, he is effectively saying that he doesn't want to leave anything to his son.

If I were him, I would want to divide my estate equally between all 3 children. You on the other hand can bequeath all your estate to your son.

It might be a little different if the step-daughters actually live with you, as Basket explained.

AyeAmarok Wed 02-Mar-16 11:53:10

I think this is horribly complicated but I would probably agree with you that his "half" should be split 3 was as he has 3 children, and your "half" should go to your DS. Otherwise it does feel a bit like your DH sees only his DDs as his responsibility as DS as yours (which is obviously not the case)

I think you'll need to make a provision in your wills that if one goes before the other, the 3 children's share can't be redirected if the surviving spouse decides to. Or it goes straight to them rather than to the surviving spouse.

Don't just trust that it would never happen, say your DH survived you - he may have the best of intentions but he may remarry someone who has her own children and it could all end up going to her kids rather than his if he died first. Seen it happen.

TheLeprechaunDidIt Wed 02-Mar-16 11:55:39

Our wills split things equally between both children. We know they may inherit differently from other sources but it's important to us that the last message left to them isn't 'I don't really see you as my child'. In my DD's eyes DH is her dad just as much as DS's.

ExitPursuedByABear Wed 02-Mar-16 11:56:21

I am sure you can make a provision that your half of the estate would be protected - this can be done to stop the whole of an estate being used for Care if it is needed.

FeelingFine89 Wed 02-Mar-16 11:57:24

You have 1 child and he has 3.
Therefore imo your half should go to your DS, and his half should be split 3 ways between all of his children.

His plan is wrong as he wont be leaving anything to his son but his daughters he will be. It's not yours or your son's fault that you aren't his daughters' mum and you only have one child who you want to leave your half to. They have their own mums to inherit from and in any case he shouldn't short change him in their favour.

Viviennemary Wed 02-Mar-16 12:03:23

I think the way you first said in your post is the fairest. That is his share going to his two chidren and your share going to your one child. His other two children could inherit from their own Mother anyway.

coconutpie Wed 02-Mar-16 12:04:48

Your half should be left to your son and his half should be split three ways between his three DC. If he only splits his between his two older DC then he leaves nothing to his son which is not fair treatment of his son.

BillSykesDog Wed 02-Mar-16 12:11:59

If you're splitting things into halves and you have decided that your half is going entirely to DS then I would say that it's entirely DH's call what he does with his half.

FeelingFine89 Wed 02-Mar-16 12:18:35

Bill I think you're missing the point that the OP has one child and he has 3. What he "wants" to do isn't fair on 1 of his children- surely you can see that? What the op wants to do is completely fair because only one of the children is hers and she has no obligations to make her will "fair" for children that aren't hers. He on the other hand, does.

olivesnutsandcheese Wed 02-Mar-16 13:00:46

I'm having the same dilemma but DSS lives with us so I'd hate for him to think I don't think of him as my son if DH passed away first. The issue is DSS would inherit from his mother and her parents as well as from us. I suppose I'd love DS to benefit from inheritance from my family as DSS is covered by both parents.Then there's the issue of not wanting DSS's DM to have any benefit or control if we both died together. Aaargh, so meanwhile 3years on we still haven't made a will.
I feel your pain littlelion....

tinyterrors Wed 02-Mar-16 14:29:34

I think his half should be split three ways. Yes your shared child will inherit more than his half siblings but they may also inherit from their mother.

Our estate, if there's any left when we die, will be split 50/50, dh's half will be split between dsd and our children, my half will only be split between our children. It's the only fair way imo. The way your dh suggests splitting his estate basically means he's leaving his ds nothing.

Yes your ds would get more from you and your dh but it will be the only inheritance he'll get whereas your dsds will also inherit from their mum.

LittleLionMansMummy Wed 02-Mar-16 14:37:19

Thanks for the replies, a lot to think about - potentially more in terms of what happens if one if us dies first rather than both at the same time. I hadn't thought about the onward consequences if I were to remarry if dh were to die first or whatever. We were thinking more that we wouldn't want each other to be forced to sell up and move so that the children could get their inheritance, but that might actually be the simplest way of doing things.

Dsd2 doesn't live with us full time (I wish she did!) and I can see how those who were brought up full time by step parents would feel. I also have a lot of sympathy with lot wanting to leave behind ill feeling. Part of me is very tempted to also split my half two ways between dsd and dsd2 since she is in every other respect ds's sister (I have never referred to her as his half sister for instance because to do so would minimise the fantastic relationship they have). I'd like to leave her a token of my own love and respect for her but don't own anything of significant value other than the house.

DeoGratias Wed 02-Mar-16 14:39:08

I am clear that none of my money or house would go to a new partner and it will go to my 5 children equally no matter what their incomes are at the time. Any new man is just going to have to live with that. It would be different of course in your place where you have married someone and had a child with him.

If you are in England remember the 1975 Act which allows a dependant to challenge a will which leaves them out - so he will need t make fair provision for his 3 children. The most likely situation is you both die when you are both about 80 in reality and the more you give to the 3 chidlren before you die the less the state will steal in inheritance tax at death so your ideal probablyw ill be to die with no money (my aim ) so the state can keep its filthy mits off my children's inheritance.

I don't see why your husband should not treat all 3 of his children exactly the same to be honest. If he dies and assuming your house is in joint names it automatically goes to you as you hold it as joint tenants - do check your savings - are they held in a joint account which means they do to the other of you automatically or separately? You need to look into inheritance and assets held as joint tenants rather than tenants in common (nothing to do with tenancy law).

In my view if one child will inherit from someone else too that is utterly irrelevant -0 they shoudl still be treated equally by their father. Although you should not leave anything to them. If I were your husband though I would want my half of the house to go to his 3 children equally perhaps either with a right for you to buy out his share from them or else that you can live there until you die or remarry.

LittleLionMansMummy Wed 02-Mar-16 14:39:16

split two ways between ds and dsd2 I mean.

thelittleredhen Wed 02-Mar-16 14:55:56

You realistically need to think about:
- if one of you dies first, what to do with house and cash assets (savings a/c etc)
- if you, DH and DS all die at the same time or if they all predecease you
- if you, DH, DS and DSDs all die at the same time or if they all predecease you

You also need to look at how your house is held at the LR ie tenants in common or joint tenants which changes what happens when one of you die - ie either it falls how you want under your Wills or it passes automatically to the other owner.

It would also be possible to put the house in trust so that you can live their for your lifetime but upon your death, it is split between the three children.

You could also look at your DH leaving the DDs a cash gift on his death and the house going to you (if you/he has that much "cash" in shares and savings/ISAs)

Gracey79 Wed 02-Mar-16 14:59:08

I think your way is fairest, I know il be flamed for this but I do hate the idea that stepchildren should always get something extra. When I was a sm I always asked if the stepchildrens mother would leave anything to my ds?

228agreenend Wed 02-Mar-16 15:03:30

You obviously love your dh's children as well as your son. Therefore, why doesn't dh split his money three ways between his three children, and you give the majority to your son, but a token amount to dsd's as an acknowledgement of what they mean to,you. It doesn't have to be an even split, as they are not your bio children, but it will indicate their importance in your life.

Not sure whether that complicate things further though. Sorry.

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