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Help! writing a Will and making it fair to all childern

(33 Posts)
tigerrose Wed 12-Jun-13 13:58:59

Can you help... I have a step son and our own daughter. Step son also has 2 other half siblings with birth mum. My husband thinks that we should leave all assets half and half between step son and our daughter.

I think that is unfair as he will inherit from his mother too who is reasonably well off and our daughter will not get any of that.

I wanted to leave my assets to our daughter and his half should be split between the 2 childeren.

Any thoughts on this? is it fair ? what do other people tend to do?

mrsravelstein Thu 13-Jun-13 17:03:12

we've done the same OP. my "half" will be split 3 ways between my 3 children, dh's half will be split 2 ways between his 2. (his 2 being my 2 as well, that is!)

ProbablyJustGas Thu 13-Jun-13 16:58:28

I discussed this very topic with my DH recently, regarding DSD. I am expecting a baby in Nov, and wasn't sure how to make out my own will and still be fair to the kids. But DH firmly believes that only he and his ex should provide for DSD in their wills, and that I divide my estate only between my own biological kids.

DH's logic is similar to yours, OP. If something happened to DH, all of the kids would inherit an equal share of his estate. But if something happened to me as well, DSD would still have her mother alive to provide for her, and her mother will obviously take her in full-time. However, my own kids would not have a living parent bringing in income, nor providing an education or a roof over their heads - they would only have a share of my estate to ensure their appointed guardians can take them in without going totally broke.

On the very slim chance something happened to DH, me, and DH's exW all at once, DSD would still be okay - she would inherit a share of DH's estate and a share of her mother's estate. Any bio DCs of mine would also inherit a share of DH's estate and their mother's estate (mine).

I will probably revisit this once all of the kids are grown - I'm assuming I will be much wealthier by then and can distribute more generously (one can dream grin). But right now, DH's and my priority is to ensure all of our children can be taken care of and provided for at an age when they're too young to do it themselves.

Xalla Wed 12-Jun-13 18:38:36

We've done something similar to Parttimer - our joint assets and life insurance will be split equally. Money and property I had before meeting DH (some of which was also inherited) are now in trust for my DC only. DH is totally OK with that.

mumandboys123 Wed 12-Jun-13 17:20:34

your children have two different sets of parents with two different sets of circumstances and as such, they can expect to inherit different amounts. It is not 'unfair' that one will potentially inherit less than the other because their parents are not exactly the same and the circumstances are not exactly the same. I really don't get the need to even up the score - except as stepmooster points out where the children are young and there is a need to ensure on-going care. To me, it's like trying to make sure your children inherit the same as their school mates or next door neighbour or cousin. It's just not possible.

And that's ignoring the fact that you have no idea what mum's feelings may be, nor what her circumstances might be at the point of death, and she could legtimately leave everything to charity or have nothing left for anyone to inherit.

Your husband should be allowed to treat his children equally and ensure they receive the same from his estate. I personally believe that means everything you both own should be split in two and each child receives half. However, I can see the argument for splitting in 2 between you and then you leave your half to your child and he splits his half between both his children. Potentially, however, that leaves behind an upset child who feels hard done by and problems for on-going relationships between siblings. And that could work the other way too.

Very difficult. Not sure there's a right or wrong.

Stepmooster Wed 12-Jun-13 16:52:48

Ragwort, I might do the same and split my assets equally once all the children are adults, but not when my DD might end up being an orphan and alone.

I think once you are an adult you shouldn't expect to receive anything from anyone in terms of inheritance. If all children are self-sufficient and don't need my money then I may well leave it all to a charity. My grandmother left most of her money to my cousins but their need is greater than mine. I'm certianly not bitter!

Turniptwirl Wed 12-Jun-13 16:50:01

I agree with rubyroo, obviously not applicable while your kids are little but from teenagers up I would say its best to discuss the inheritances in your will and explain your reasoning as appropriate to the age and understanding of the kids.

My parents have always done this and it means no nasty surprises to make an issue of after you're gone and make people resentful. You can't please everyone or be 100% equal to everybody, but as long as your reasoning isn't "I like dd more than ds" or "ds has blonde hair and blondes should rule the world so I'm giving all my money to him" most people will understand even if its not what they would do.

HerRoyalNotness Wed 12-Jun-13 16:41:59

stepmooster this is similar to my thinking. We left the bulk to our 2 DC who are much younger than DHs DD, and therefore have more need. Although we have put aside an amount cover maintenance until 18, and whatever is left she should get directly.

We will then review once all are adults and settled. However even then it's most likely to be mine is split between our 2 DC and DH can split his between the 3 DC if he so wishes.

Ragwort Wed 12-Jun-13 16:39:04

Interesting. I am a SD and was left quite a reasonable sum from my birth father and various relations on his side (these deaths occured over 50 years ago); I have a SF and two half siblings. I know for a fact that my mother and step-father's will leaves everything equally between the three of us - the solicitor did ask my SF to clarify that this was entirely his wish, & he said yes, I guess I am very fortunate in having a lovely SF who I get on very well with smile. However I wonder if my half-siblings feel that this is 'unfair' as I have already inherited from 'my' relations?

purpleroses Wed 12-Jun-13 16:34:20

What you propose is fair. What your DP proposes gives his DS a likely twice as much inheritance as DD, which isn't fair. Your money should in principle go to your DD, with possibly some token gift to DSS if you wish.

You don't say how old your DCs are. If they're still children, the difficulty you have is that you're very, very unlikely both to die together - and would presumably want to leave the surviving partner at least the right to remain in their home. So you either need to leave it to each other, and trust the surviving person to pass it on in accordance with your wishes (which might not work well if you died first and your DP felt he needed to be 'fair' - in his eyes - with the money to both his children)

Or you need to set up some sort of trust fund for the DC(s) involved and work out how to ensure that the surviving one of you two isn't pushed into homelessness/poverty because of money that's tied up in a trust fund and not available to them to help them provide for the children during the rest of their childhood.

Corygal Wed 12-Jun-13 16:33:37

Well, of course you must leave everyone something - I'm with you entirely about making sure that a) people have two sides to be left things from b) that both sides do so.

I think your idea of 60:40 is right.

parttimer79 Wed 12-Jun-13 16:31:21

To add this does not mean that as stepmooster says, if both DP and I died at the same time they are all provided for in the same way in terms of guardianship and money to take care of them as the as DSCs have their Mum still. It does mean that in terms of DPs death that all 3 would be treated equally. It was quite a complex will to set out, was glad we had a helpful solicitor!

Stepmooster Wed 12-Jun-13 16:29:22

If DSS mother predeceases us, and he is still a child that too would be entirely different...

parttimer79 Wed 12-Jun-13 16:28:57

We made sure 2DSCs and the bump on the way are equally provided for in terms of our joint estate and life insurance.
However money left in trust to me by my father who died before I met DP is left only to "bump" as DSCs will be left money in a similar way by their Mum's side of the family.

Stepmooster Wed 12-Jun-13 16:28:30

Corygal, but what if the youngest sibling will end up a homeless orphan? Would it not worry you that they will end up with very little to see them through their young years because both mum and dad are not their to provide for them??

Sometimes people don't have a lot of assets to split, and it becomes the lesser of 2 evils. If we had oodles of cash then I would agree to split it differently. Our decision is more practical really, DSS is going to have the less upset to his life if we both pass away, DD on the other hand her whole world will change.

cathpip Wed 12-Jun-13 16:26:27

I have 2 dc with dh and 1 dss, everything has been split equally between all 3. IMO I choose to marry a man who already had a child and that child is part of my family and therefore should be treated equally.

Corygal Wed 12-Jun-13 16:21:51

My mother was left nothing - her biological father died when she was a child, and her mother and stepfather split their assets between their mutual children, on the grounds that the assets belonged to the stepfather so should only go to his children.

It didn't do much for family unity.Later, when various (step)cousins needed support, we were fairly taken aback to be approached.

The moral of this story being don't be mean with stepchildren - it can backfire.

kefybaby Wed 12-Jun-13 16:13:41

I am in a similar situation to you, OP, and my approach is the same.

tigerrose Wed 12-Jun-13 16:12:34

Stepmooster: very good point that I have not considered before thanks

Lattetogo Wed 12-Jun-13 16:05:06

Why not compromise and go 1/3 -2/3

Stepmooster Wed 12-Jun-13 15:59:30

I would consider writing one will for when my children are children and then update it when they are adults. If both DH and I were to die tomorrow, DSS still has his mum, his main home and a stepfather. However DD will not have any parents, no home and will be at a greater disadvantage. So in that sense if both DH and were to die tomorrow we'd want to make sure our assets were used to take care of DD, with perhaps a token amount put into trust for when DSS gets to 21 or something. how that all works I have no idea and we too are going to see a solicitor about it.

Once all the children are adults, then I don't think it really matters so much how you split it. I never inherited off my mother she left it all her to her boyfriend.

or you could just leave it all to charity...

Smartieaddict Wed 12-Jun-13 15:55:45

I'm with you OP. Seems as fair as you can make it!

RubyrooUK Wed 12-Jun-13 15:53:57

Tiger, my advice would simply be that whatever you decide, write down/explain your reasoning.

My mum and stepdad have tried to be fair with their wills, taking into account that while they met too late to share children, they share grandchildren and assets. The specifics are different from your case but the best thing they have done is tell everyone their reasoning.

Even though the situation probably works out best for my stepsister, who inherits from most people due to being an only child of her parents, my brother and I still think it is the best solution which shows how fair and loving our parents tried to be. That is worth more to me than any of the money, knowing how they tried to make sure everyone was cared for in as fair a way as possible. The last thing I would want is for any of us to fall out or feel upset.

tigerrose Wed 12-Jun-13 14:56:39

Catsmother, yep I think you hit the nail on the head. I think my other half tends to try and forget that his son still has a mother who is better off than we are and that she got more than the lions share of their assets on divorce.

catsmother Wed 12-Jun-13 14:38:44

Forgetting the step issue most parents try to be as fair as possible when considering inheritences if they have more than one child. That usually means that the estate is divided equally between the number of children, e.g. 2 = 50:50, 3 = 1/3, 4 = 25% etc. However, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances such as a child having special needs where their future is less assured and parents therefore make the decision to adjust percentages accordingly.

If you consider all I've said as a starting point it's really not so different to what you propose re: making adjustments. No-one can predict the future of course, but so far as you possibly can, your suggestion is intended to "equalise" the inheritence(s) of both DD and SS. You don't know for sure what SS's mum will leave him - or if she'll leave anything at all - but on the basis that it's most likely his mother will want to leave something for him then your suggestion is as fair as it can be IMO.

Say, for the sake of argument you and DH leave £100. £50 of that is yours and goes to DD. £50 is DH's and DD gets £25 of that and SS also gets £25. Therefore DD's inheritence is £75. SS also inherits from his mother who you describe as "reasonably well off" which suggests she has more - potentially - to leave than you do. Say she has £200 to leave - each of her 3 kids gets £66, meaning SS ends up with £91. Obviously, these figures are nonsensical, but you get the gist. You're never going to be able to make it absolutely "fair" - what with all the unknowns but I think you'd be doing DD a dis-service if you went 50:50 as what you're trying to do is balance things out as much as possible between the two of them after you've gone.

SignoraStronza Wed 12-Jun-13 14:29:13

We've done mirror wills and spilt it 50/50 between the two dcs. dc1 is not dh's biologically. We have no idea what she'll inherit from her father, for whom she's the only child (and likely to remain so) however this is what we consider fair.

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