Should spouse pay rent?

kellyz2009January 8, 2009

Should spouse pay rent?

My spouse, Jessie, says I should pay rent while I say that a marriage does not include one spouse paying rent to the other. While the idea of paying rent to my spouse does not seem right to me, I am open to whatever the right thing to do is; hence Im posting to this forum in hopes of getting feedback as to what other couples in similar marriages are doing. Here are the relevant details (I apologize for the length; I am not good at being succinct):

WeÂve been married four years, and we each have two children from previous marriages; JessieÂs two live with us full time (the oldest is currently living at University) and my two were already out of the house by the time we got married, so they never lived with us.

We had what I thought to be a reasonable arrangement to cover expenses:

 Jessie owns a house which was ~75% paid off when we married; if something happened to Jessie, the plan was to sell the house and give the proceeds to JessieÂs children, with the caveat that after ~five years I would "probably" begin to get partial interest in the house. I took this to mean that we would eventually end up pooling all of our assets and resources.

 Because Jessie was already paying the household bills, I have been direct depositing money to JessieÂs bank account every payday so that I am paying my (more than) fair share;

 In addition, IÂve paid for all of our vacations, including costs for JessieÂs children (airfare, hotels, food, activities, etc.); IÂve paid for all of our entertainment, e.g., dining out, movies, Disneyland, musicals, etc.;

 IÂve also paid many incidentals for JessieÂs children, some of which include multiple University / College application fees, school supplies, personal hygiene purchases, etc, etc.

 In essence, IÂve paid for everything just as if JessieÂs children were my children.

When all is said and done, the amount of money I have given to Jessie, after accounting for common expenses, is equal to ~10% of the house value. It is important to note that this is over and above the amount I have already paid for common expenses.

This extra 10% that has been at JessieÂs disposal has provided for many things that Jessie would not have been able to do alone:

 Pay extra towards the mortgage such that it is now practically paid for (~94% paid off);

 Remodeling of the house;

 Re-landscaping the yard;

 Vacations including two cruises, two trips to Mexico and two trips to Hawaii, among other things;

In essence, I have subsidized our household such that we could afford all of these things, thereby providing a certain "quality of life" that would otherwise not have been possible.

While discussing how we should setup our trusts, I suggested that if something happened to Jessie that the house would be sold and I should receive ~10% of the proceeds, while JessieÂs children should receive the remaining ~90%. If something happens after 10 years, my share would be ~25%, based on my continued excessive contribution to our families finances. As time marches on (after 20 to 25 years) we would finally end up with pooled resources and assets, so if something happened to Jessie after this time, I would receive 50% and JessieÂs children would receive 50%.


Now Jessie says I get no interest in the house; it is for JessieÂs children only. Not only that, we need to keep all of our assets separate; and, in addition to paying my half of common expenses, I need to pay rent and the amount I am to pay is more than double the amount already being charged to someone who Jessie recently rented a room to.

"Okay fine", I think to myself. Then I say, "I want to be fair to both of us, so I think that since you do not want to pool resources and assets that I have been contributing waaaay too much money and the current situation is very unfair to me."

To me, I am JessieÂs spouse who provides much more in intangibles as a spouse and as a parent than I already do in extra money. Some of the intangibles (I am more involved with JessieÂs child (Casey) than Jessie is in many important ways):

 Since Casey has early morning school, I take Casey to school so Jessie can sleep a bit more before going into work (even though it is much more out of the way for me than for Jessie);

 I take Casey to and from school and other activities, e.g., scouting events, church events, friends houses, etc. Jessie rarely is willing to do this;

 I spend quality (and quantity!) time with Casey, allowing for spontaneous conversations about pretty much everything; Jessie does not spend quality time, and Jessie does not like to discuss things;

 I coordinate and attend individual school academic counselor appointments to ensure Casey is taking the right classes and is not getting overloaded (Casey is an excellent student already);

 In essence, I parent Casey just as if Casey were my own, which does also include guidance and discipline.

 BTW, I enjoy very much this aspect of being in a family, i.e., the parenting role is very rewarding :-)

Here is the crux of the problem: While we are coming to terms with how to reconcile the extra money IÂve given to Jessie, we are still very much disconnected in regards to my paying rent. To me, I am not a roommate who pays rent; I am a spouse and a parent in a family unit. To Jessie, since I donÂt want to continue paying extra money, I should pay rent in order to help with the mortgage payments; to me, this is ridiculous: if Jessie wants to keep all finances separate, then Jessie needÂs to pay for JessieÂs own stuff; I already add a lot of intangible benefits to the family, only a short list of which is pointed out above. Plus, with my paying half of all the expenses, JessieÂs expenses are actually less than if we were not married BTW, note that we each make reasonable money, but with significant monthly college expenses for the oldest child, Jessie is starting to feel a bit pinched.

After all of that, I again pose the question: should I pay rent to my spouse?

Thanks very much for any insight (and sorry for the long winded post)!

Best regards,


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If my DH requested I pay rent, I would have to reevaluate the entire situation. If my husband didn't want a portion of our home to benefit me in case of his passing I would be very concerned. Sorry I can't offer advice, I just can't even imagine it.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 1:04AM
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I'm still trying to pick my lower jaw up off the floor!

If you pay rent, I hope you don't forget to charge him for sex. or babysitting, housekeeping, etc. etc. etc. If this is a 'business' arrangement.. make it a real business arrangement. I'd write a contract up if it were me. (Of course this would not happen because as the poster above stated, I would also reevaluate the entire situation if my hubby wanted me to pay rent (his mortgage) so I would be out in the cold if anything ever happens to him.) Ummm, NO.

Advice: If you stay and pay 'rent', then I would stop paying for all of his other expenses. I would take MY money and invest it, buy some real estate, or sock it away into a savings account... anything! But you are going to need it when he isn't around anymore (due to death or divorce) because he obviously isn't going to provide for YOU... you need to provide for yourself. He wants separate finances, let him have separate finances. Split the bills 50/50, pay your half and NOTHING else. If you have lots of extra money, it's YOURS.

Personally, I couldn't live with someone like that and I was a single parent before I married, my husband also has a child, we have none together, so I understand providing for your own kids.. but leaving a spouse out in the cold... especially a spouse that is contributing significantly, not a stay at home living off sugar daddy trophy wife. That would be a different story.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:15AM
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and if he can't come up with his half of the air fare or cruise fare, then I guess he gets to stay home while you go have a good time.

LOL, if you have enough extra money (after you stop paying for his kids, vacations, and other extras) maybe buy a house so you can leave it to your kids.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:23AM
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Absent a prenup, the way it generally works is both parties keep whatever they had when they entered the marriage, and all assets obtained afterwards are owned jointly--50/50, which also includes any appreciation on those assets.

So say your spouse owned a home that was worth 100,000 at the time of the marriage, which was 75% paid off. Your spouse would be bringing basically $75,000 into the marriage, which they retain. Likewise, any assets you owned prior to the marriage would be valued in a similar fashion.

So, if the house is paid off, and 10 years down the road is now worth $200,000, Jessie retains that first $75,000, and the remaining $125,000 is divided equally between the two parties, so you would receive $62,500, while Jessie is entitled to $137,500.00.

Even if the house was 100% paid off when you entered into the marriage, you would still be entitled to 50% of any appreciation in value that occured over the course of your marriage.

If Jessie wants to keep expenses separate, then paying "your fair share" shouldn't include any of Jessie's children's tuition or other expenses. Jessie should also be paying for 50% of the landscaping, remodeling, vacations, and all other household expenses, minus, of course, 50% of the rental income the TWO of you are receiving from your JOINT tenant.

Can Jessie just arbitrarily decide after the 2 of you are married to give away the house to Jessie's children? Although the laws vary from state to state, in most states, absolutely not! Marriage is a legally binding contract, and one party to that contract can't just give away the rights their spouse obtained upon entering the marriage contract to someone else.

Before agreeing to set up any trusts or sign any papers, please get your own attorney. I seriously doubt any reputable attorney would advise you to agree to simply sign away your interest in this house to Jessie's children without receiving appropriate compensation, and if your spouse pressures you into signing away your rights without the benefit of counsel or just compensation? Well, that would constitute a contract signed "under duress" which would not be legally binding anyway and probably "voidable" at your option.

To avoid this very type of situation is the reason many people with grown children from prior marriages work all these details out with their respective attorneys in a prenupt. agreement prior to the remarriage--so their partner doesn't try to change the "deal" at some later date.

If you and Jessie are unable to mutually agree to an equitable solution, might want to consider each retaining separate attorneys to draft a "post nupt" agreement to ensure that the interests of all parties concerned are properly protected and financial obligations clearly defined and properly proportioned(ie., fair).

Best of Luck!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:32AM
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I never heard of the "way it generally works" that each spouse gets 50% of post marriage appreciation. Maybe that is true in community property states. My understsnding in my state, which is not a community property state, is that "seperate property" brought into the marriage by either party, stays seperate property unless co-mingled, and the owner maintains the appreciation. Yes, upon death a widow would have rights to the property, but not a divorceee. "Marital property" is subject to "equtiable distribution" My understanding. Yes there is tons of litigation as to what is seperate v. marital property. I suspect kelly's DH knows all this and is documenting how house is seperate property.

That being said, do I feel the arrangment is unfair? YES Do I think Kelly should consult a lawyer? YES Unfortunately you should have consulted a lawyer from the getgo.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 6:49AM
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I understand that if your living anywhere you should help with the household bills. The rent should be divided equally among all tenants.

So say the mortgage is $1600 a month. And there is you, dh, ss, and another tenant. Rent should then be divided 4 ways leaving you with $400 to pay. DH has to pay $800 because it is him and his child. Other tenant pays $400. Split utilities the same way and all other expenses to make sure your only paying your "fair share".

As for vacations I think it would be right to assume that you should only pay for yourself since your finances are now seperate. And as for his childs college expenses that should fall all on your dh's shoulders since it is his child.

This way you can be saving your own money to take care of yourself should something happen to him. And you will also be saving to give away to your children.

Keep seperate bank accounts.

And do consult your own attorney before signing anything.

If your dh wants to treat finances separately when it comes to his home then he needs to realize that all finances will be kept seperate and he can say good-bye to all the extras him and his children have been enjoying at your expense.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:52AM
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Wow...this sounds like a business arrangment.
Answer: No, you shouldn't pay 'rent'.
1. youare his spouse.
2. you pay for other things other than rent
3. better to keep the finances seperate...saves alot of headaches in the long run.
4. If you are not investin gin the home and he has a will to give his home to his kids, thats his right. He owns it, he will give it to whom he wishes.
5.Make sure you iron out your wills. and soon.
But ,no i wouldn't pay rent. If he says its his house then he willpay the mortgage. you should work out the finances to be split with bill payments and food etc..etc...
You are living there. so bills and food should be split 50 50...
but you paying a portion to go to mortgage and him saying the house will not go to you?..nope.. no way...
If you dont mind living like this, thats fine, its your life. You sound like you are ok with it.
But no. I would not pay 'rent' You are married, are his spouse living under HIS house.
If he wants rent money tellhim to rent one of the rooms.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:02AM
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I suspect he wants "rent" and not a share of mortgage as he is laying paperwork to make certain that the house is not regarded as marital property. Kelly I do think you are being treated unfairly. Talk to a lawyer, every state is different. You should know your options.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:20AM
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Pardon me for being blunt but I think Jesse's full of crap. Marriage should be a partnership, not a business arrangement. When you get retirement age what are you going to have? Memories of being good to his kids and no where to live?

My DH & I married in our forties after failed earlier marriages, we have 3 children each. We each owned a house, he had more equity in his than I did. We chose to live in mine (it wasn't up for discussion, I wasn't going to live in his) and in the beginning his thoughts were that his kids would inherite his house, which was all he had, should he die. I told him fine if that's how he felt but in that case mine would get what I had which was my house plus money that I had that hadn't been discussed at that point. When I started showing him CD's he decided well maybe we should combine everything and have each other as beneficiary. So we put the houses in both names along with everything else we owned and it remains so 24 years later. Along the way my parents died and I inherited enough to buy 2 more houses that we rent out. Again, he thought his kids should be included in eventually getting a share of them. It took me a while to make him understand that this was my kids inheritance from their grandparents in the event we didn't have to have to use the money from them in our later years. My kids certainly didn't expect anything that his kids might inherite from their g'parents. When it finally soaked in he was fine with it and knows this is fair. While the houses are in his name also there is no doubt in my mind that should I predecese him it will go to my children. Our wills leave everything to the other spouse, then when we're both deceased everything will be split 6 ways except for the inheritance. Could either of us change it after one is gone? Absolutely, but we both know we won't. Our children, all grown & married with kids of their own, are perfectly happy with the way things are. None of them are greedy and they know they are all loved by both of us.

I have a friend whose DH has quite a bit of money and required her to sign a prenup. Since she wasn't money hungry she did so but didn't realize just how stingy he would be. He expects her to pay for everything and all his money is invested in his large farm that will be left only to his boys. They built a new home, partially paid for with the proceeds of selling her house, and she does get the house when he dies put that's it. He won't pay a penny on the upkeep of the house and wasn't buying any groceries until one day they went in to buy some milk. He stood back for her to pay for it and that's when she snapped and said no more, you'll be buying groceries. She's wished many times she had never married him but feels it's too late in life to start over. There are strange people in the world. If she should get unable to work he would not be willing to support her. If she dies before him it's not his problem to pay funeral expenses. He's not even going to be buried by her.

Having said all that ~ if my DH were to die and I remarried I would chose to keep finances separate at my age of 66. To put things together at this stage would be complicated because of the children's inheritance.

I wish you luck, Kelly. It seems to me he doesn't have your best interest at heart. I think I would work out something much more fair to you (with the help of an attorney if needed) and if he can't except it I would probably move on and leave it with him.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:43AM
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Doesn't sound either reasonable or fair to me. Sorry, but he sounds pretty stingy and selfish in regards to his money and your time.

I'm basically with Disengaging about 'Yours', 'Mine' and 'Ours' piles, with post-marriage assets and appreciation going into the 'Ours' pile. And I'd second her suggestion of getting a pair of attorneys involved - one for each of you - and work with them on a mediated agreement that everyone considers fair. Because Jessie's way certainly isn't.

One other thing -- Since Jessie seems very concerned about his kids inheriting his house, what about putting in a "life tenancy" clause for your benefit so you won't be put out onto the street. Even Jessie should be able to see that this is reasonable.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:16AM
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I guess the way I see it is for whatever reason husband [I'm presuming "husband" --- OP managed to completely avoid gender pronouns, for whatever reason] wants to make sure kids get house, or big chunk of house (maybe it was long-term family home husband wants to pass on to his progeny? maybe the home is the main/only item of real value he can divide up to provide for both spouse and children?) and that's why he wants to keep the finances separate. I noted that this idea was stated by Jessie, as OP indicated, as more of an "INSTEAD OF" OP paying for all those other "extras" than an "IN ADDITION TO" the extras. (The sentence about "if I'm not paying extras, Jessie wants me to pay rent" is what indicates that to me.) I think that's an important distinction, one which sheds more light on his intentions. Hopefully what Jessie realizes is that it's causing conflict for him to take OP's money for the "extras" when she's complaining about not getting a share of the house.

My way of looking at it would not be "paying rent" like Jessie's a literal landlord, but rather "paying an equal share, as an equal partner, of the household bills". Of course, I would say that if you're doing that, your name should be put on the mortgage. And of course you should at least have a decent-sized portion of the ownership of the house should Jessie pass away. The main problem with houses in family (especially blended family) estate situations is when ownership is split among beneficiaries and one or more parties wants to stay living there and not sell. That's where it can get ugly, which may be another reason that Jessie would prefer to keep that separate for his kids and bequeath other things to you as spouse (this would assume there ARE other assets of worth which can be yours alone and have things be roughly equal). But even that cause problems if spouse wants house. Another option is life estate, or a specified amount of time that you as spouse (presumably older than kids) would be able to live there before you would be obliged to sell out your share (that can vary, often it's a year or several years). The house thing is definitely a tricky situation, and a common cause of conflicts in blended families. Usually it's the case where everyone means well but simply doesn't know how to be fair, because even the concept of "fair" can mean so many things to different people. My guess is that Jessie ---and you--- have both just been trying various ways of making things fair and equitable, each with your different abilities & expectations, and finding that it's not working perfectly and there's resentment.

My advice would be that if things are otherwise good between you two, assume that Jessie is trying to come up with a fair arrangement but just is a bit clueless as to how to REALLY accomplish it. Don't assume he means "pay rent" ON TOP OF paying for "extras", but assume he means "pay towards household bills" INSTEAD OF paying for "extras" for his kids. Ask him about how it will work with co-ownership if you pay toward mortgage. Explain to him that there are some concerns you have that may not have occured to him, such as the fact that he will have equity and you won't, and how will this be resolved so that his kids still get a big chunk of the house without you resenting it? Then discuss will/estate plans and what will happen shoudl he die and if anyone wants to stay in the house forever and others wish to force a sale. Discuss alternate means of Jessie's providing for both you and kids. Try to determine in advance and have everyone be prepared in advance for what exactly IS going to happen with the house and who can count on living in it in the future, so that there are no surprises/disappointments. And yes, definitely discuss that he should pay for his kids' bills and you should pay for your bills. Planning, foresight and clarity are the three most helpful things regarding blended family finances. Ideally there should be absolutely no misguided expectations on anyone's part.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:35AM
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How is your relationship? Sounds like she is viewing you in a different light.

No, I don't think you should pay rent. If she insists on that, then you must separate the money completely. You pay only for your portion of the utilities and food. You go Dutch when you go on vacations, etc... That's the only way to protect yourself. Sounds like she's using you to bank roll some money for herself.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:38AM
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NO!!! You shouldn't pay Rent. What does he expect you to do when he dies for a place to live say Jr. decides he wants to live in the house and give you the boot.

DH and I don't always see eye to eye on money. He makes twice what I do and I have 3 kids at home and he has one. You can add up all the household bills and vacations cost then figure what you make and what he makes then you pay for your percentage of the cost for one person and he pays his percentage times 2 or 3 people (him and his dependents). Then buy yourself a rental house that you think would be a nice place to retire when that time comes or leave to your children.

Aside from that I don't have a clue what to tell him but get a grip.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 11:47AM
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Another option, if it's affordable & feasible (maybe not *right now* b/c the housing market stinks) is to either:

-move into a new place and Jessie can keep the current house to earn income as a rental property (if it's a long-time family home and he's dead-set on keeping THAT HOUSE for his kids)

-or move into a new place and sell the old one, putting a chunk of the profits into CDs to benefit Jessie's children (if the house itself isn't the crucial element) and start fresh with you & he buying the new house in both your names, paying equa shares on mortgage, and you get house (or at least life estate) should Jessie die first.

In general, it tends to work better in second marriages when couple can start fresh in a new house, if at all possible.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 12:04PM
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move out. rent an aprtment and pay rent to a landlord. in that case you at least have the rest of the money to spend on you and your own kids. if you stay in this marriage, you not only paying rent you also spending the rest of the money on your family (including her kids) having nothing for yourself. you are better off on your own.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 12:06PM
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Laws vary from state to state, however in "community property" states, any appreciation gained during the marriage in assets obtained prior to the commencement of the marriage is generally divided 50/50.

In states governed by "common law" however, yes, assets brought into the marriage are generally regarded as separate, however, for the purposes of determining "equitable distribution", an exception is generally made, AT MINIMUM, for any increase in value that, "resulted directly or indirectly from efforts of the other spouse during marriage." (from South Carolina statutes, which is not a community property state.)

That's generally the bare minimum, the state I reside in is NOT a community property state, but also requires the judge make a determination regarding "equitable distribution" even of supposed "separate" property on a number of factors, including: "The contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation, or increase or decrease in value of the marital or non-marital property, including the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker or to the family unit."

Cleaning alone is regarded as "preservation" which contributes towards any, and all appreciation, as a home which is not properly maintained, can fall into such a state of disrepair to the point where it is worth nothing more than the value of the land it sits on. If the spouse contributed financially as well, that generally only serves to strengthen their case regarding their rights to any so-called "separate", or non-marital assets acquired prior to the marriage.

In common law states where the division of marital assets is determined by "equitable distributon", a judge generally also has BROAD DISCRETION in deciding not only the percentage of appreciation the nonowner spouse contributed to, but also as the the percentage to award as "equitable distribution" on a "case by case" basis, also taking into consideration such factors as; the length of the marriage, tax consequences, age, health, and in my state, of particular importance, "The reasonable opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of capital assets and income..."

I'm frequently engaged to perform computations not only for divorce, but disputes that arise in probate as well, and at least in my experience, the end result regarding appreciation in value generally ends up 50/50, regardless of who owned what prior to entering into the marriage, unless duration of the marriage was only short-term. (forensic accountant, remember?)

I've even seen a number of prenupts. "voided" and thrown right out of court as having been signed "under duress", especially if the agreement is clearly unequitable, and/or the party disputing the prenupt. was not afforded the benefit of their own counsel at the time the agreement was entered into.

But yes, it does sound like Kelly's spouse is trying to pull some "legal shinanagans" by calling her contributions "rent" in an attempt to circumvent any legal rights she would otherwise possess. And depending on the state in which they reside, the possibility exists that it just might work!


Please seek the advice of a reputable attorney.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:10PM
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We will have to agree to disagree on this. I beleive at best you are stating as absolutes some very difficult and frequently litigated issues, which may very well have different outcomes in different states. Your experience is what it is, but I can give names of plenty of case law with seperate property being held as such. As to value provided by SAHM, etc, I think you have over-rated it in context of seperate property.

Now Ima will critize me for giving legal advice, but as long as you are supporting SM favorable thesis, you will not be critized for giving legal advice (or hijacking threads, or anything else for that matter).

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I feel so special that kkny is always thinking about me....

oops, sorry for hijacking the thread for a second...

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 3:07PM
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Ima, I am certain all the people in your life whom you try to control are always thinking of you.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 3:40PM
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"I beleive at best you are stating as absolutes some very difficult and frequently litigated issues"


That is not true. I qualified most of my statements with the word "generally", which specifically indicates that I was NOT stating them as absolutes. Please go back and reread what I actually wrote, or are you not understanding the definition of the term?

I feel so special that kkny is always thinking about me....


yeah, me too :)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 4:04PM
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- "Cleaning alone is regarded as "preservation" which contributes towards any, and all appreciation, as a home which is not properly maintained, can fall into such a state of disrepair to the point where it is worth nothing more than the value of the land it sits on"

I guess I missed the generally there.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Thanks all for your responses; I actually feel appalled by this whole thing and you have validated my feelings.

As some have suggested, we are in counseling and have been for ~two months; we are also (assuming we can work through this) considering to purchase another property together that we will live in, thus leaving the current house for her to do with as she wishes.

The problem persists though on how to reconcile the imbalance in financial contribution over our four years of marriage, since her intention of not allowing even partial ownership is now clear, and also due to her insistence on my paying rent over and above our common expenses.

BTW, we are in a community property state, but really to me that is irrelevant unless we end up divorcing; is what I want to do is understand the fair and equitable thing to do for both of us so that we can work this out.

BTW2, this is interesting because from all the responses it would seem I'm the wife, but actually I'm the husband; Jessie is my wife... I intentionally wrote this to be gender neutral because my wife says expectations are different depending on which gender is in which position. Again, my intention is to do what is fair and equitable, so if conventional wisdom is such that your responses would now be different please feel free to say so and please let me know what the difference would be.

Again, thank you very much for your insight

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 4:09PM
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You had to know when you posted this that the you know what was going to hit the fan. If my husband asked me to pay rent I'd tell him to shove the rent where the sun doesn't shine. What an ego!

Imamommy asked if he paid for all of things that you do. I'd say your rate just went up for everything. You'd have to pay me to live with him and I doubt if he could afford me. LOL

I would either see a lawyer, one that had some experience in blended families and make out a will or I would see a lawyer for a divorce. Sorry to be so blunt but what an ass.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 4:15PM
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My first instinct was that it is not as clear-cut as everyone else seems to think it is. Now, first of all, I'm not married, nor have I ever been, so take that for what it's worth. And, if I were to get married, I would be disinclined to have separate finances in the first place, although I do understand people who have both assets and children wanting to preserve some of the assets for the kids.

But I think that if you do have separate finances and you are both living in a home that only one of you owns, deciding what is fair is tricky. One the one hand, if one person is contributing to the mortgage but not earning an ownership interest in the home, that seems pretty unfair. On the other hand, generally speaking everyone has to pay something to someone to put a roof over their heads, be it mortgage or rent, so if you are living in a home that is not yours and paying neither, that can come off as a bit of freeloading, and unfair in the other direction.

Hypothetically speaking, if Jessie's home were worth $200000, and you've paid for about 10% of its worth in vacations and things, that's $20k, Over 4 years, $5K per year. Or just over $400 per month. If you were not married to her and living in her home, would you be spending more than that in rent? She has obviously benefited financially from having you there, have you also benefited financially from living there? She has been able to pay her mortgage more quickly, have you been able to save more/drive a fancier care/etc? Has one of you benefited significantly more or less than the other? Obviously I don't know the answer to these questions, I'm just throwing out things to think about before deciding she's being unfair or taking advantage of you. Especially before deciding she's intentionally taking advantage of you.

Ok, everyone can tell me how wrong I am now. :)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 5:05PM
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I guess I missed the generally there.


No, the 2 things you actually missed were;

1) where I stated in my 2nd post that I qualified MOST of my statements. Use of the term "most" is also another qualification, just like "generally" is. While your subsequent comment was inaccurate, frivilous, and made, at best, probably for the sole purpose of being argumentative, which invalidates it completely, and;

2) that the cleaning reference was for the purpose of clarifying the previously referenced statute directly preceeding, which included in the definition of constitutes "preservation" as "the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker," which is how it has been interpreted in MY state, which is specifically what I was referring to in that particular sentence. "Preservation" can also include a number other factors as well.


I actually did think you were the husband and originally wrote my first post under that assumption, but changed it to be "gender nonspecific" prior to actually posting because I wasn't positive, and then with everyone else making the opposite assumption, well....

"Expectations are different depending on what gender is in which position"? I'll admit that the reason I thought you were the husband originally was because of your statement that you had "paid for all of our vacations; including costs for Jessie's children.." which would have struck me as a little unusual if you were the wife...

If she was a mother raising young children, I could see being concerned about being able to properly provide for them in the event something happened to her spouse, but division of assets? In a "later life" marriage? Especially where the primary concerns are usually inheritance issues and rights of survivorship?

No, I don't see anything "fair and equitable" about her desire to a greater division of assets on the sole basis of gender. Especially not if she's just as capable as you are of earning a living. It sounds more like she's just trying to make an argument for whatever works out the most advantageous for herself and her children.

Even though the house my husband and I live in is in my name, and my name alone, and even though we DON'T live in a "community property" state, I could not sell this house, obtain a mortgage, or do anything with it at all, without first obtaining his consent and signature because in addition to his marital rights, in our state, he also has homestead rights. We keep our assets separate as protection against potential business liability at this time, but intend on changing it all to "joint tenancy with rights of survivorship" when that potential no longer exists.

I think it would be great if you and your wife could purchase another home to reside in, owned as "community property", but if you don't also specify "with rights of survivorship" then 1/2 of that house will also pass to whoever she designates in her will, so be careful!

If she then wants to keep the other house as a rental for herself and her kids, in that case I think it would be perfectly reasonable to request back all the money you spent for those extra mortgage payments, remodeling, landscaping. If she feels she should have the right to "change the deal" originally agreed to, well, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander, right?

Is there a possibility that you could get her to agree that you should each obtain separate attorneys to "sort all this out" and resolve it by legal agreement? Otherwise, absent a legal agreement, she has no assurance her will won't be nullified in probate regardless.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 7:28PM
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This doesn't sound at all like a relationship to me. Most of the people on this forum don't even believe in charging their adult children rent while continuing to live at home. To me it's not even about the money. Maybe it's about control, a lack of trust or whatever, but it just doesn't sound like a healthy place to be. I'd personally move on.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:16PM
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My perspective is a little different. DH and I live in a house I inherited from my father. We live in a community property state however, inherited property is not subject to community property law so there is no question that the house when I inherited it and all subsequent appreciation belong to me alone. My DH and I also own other property together and he owns a business. We treat his business as his separate property even though in our community property state it really belongs to us both.

I would never ask for rent and I think your wife just couldn't think of a better way to ask for you to help pay the mortgage without having you pay directly to it which would give you ownership rights. The deal DH and I have is that he pays for utilities and I pay taxes and insurance. He knows that if I die first the house will go to him, then our son after him. It is still set up in a trust from my father. I have left this in this way deliberately to exclude the kids from his first marriage from inheriting it. My son would have to die before my DH for that to happen and he is only 6. I feel my parents left it to me to leave to DS not my skids.

DH is OK with this arrangement. We split a lot of things casually. He is OK since I did not want to move to this house (a long story) and living in it benefits him greatly versus paying the mortgage we used to have for our old house plus he has gone from an hour commute to less than 10 minutes.

He does not pay rent which I would never ask for and he would be seriously insulted by. We are married. The house is our home. We do not own our home together but we own other things together. Do not pay rent like you are some tenant. Work something out on the common expenses since that is fair, or at least it's fair to my way of thinking.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:27PM
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I commented becasue I didnt agree with you as to legal rights re seperate property. If you consider disagrement arguementative, so be it.

My initital reaction is and was this arragnment isnt fair. Sometimes the law wont always provide a fair result. All you can do is state your position to your partner and either try to work it out or not.

The other problem is we can never know all the facts - we cant -- there are years of history. There could be issues with who is making more, retirement funds, etc. Its a lot to deal with.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 8:53PM
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I do not understand why grown children have to automatically inherit the house? why? I don't have any hopes for inheriting my parent's house, in fact I don't want them to do it because then me and my brother would have to split it somehow. it is too much to deal wiht. i want them to sell that house, downsize and spend money on themselves.

i could never understand why kids have to get the house. they didn't buy it, didn't pay for it, and usually don't even live in it as soon as they are 18. so why are they getting it? what do they need parents' house for?

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:30PM
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I think every situation is different. I think many may have a concern, that absent a trust, if step parent inherits, it will not eventually go to biokids. It may or may not. I think most children have an expectation that they will inherint upon the death of the second to die of their parents. It gets more difficult with step families.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:37PM
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"I think most children have an expectation that they will inherit"

and I expect to win every time I buy a lottery ticket or I wouldn't just throw away good money! Doesn't mean it's going to happen. Expectations can lead to disappointment. My kids don't expect to inherit anything from me because I have told them not to. I may spend it all, or give it to my favorite charity, or need it for my care... who knows? If you don't expect it, you won't be disappointed. It isn't any different than a parent choosing to give all their money to charity or losing it in Vegas, it's theirs to do with what they want and if they want to leave it to a new spouse, that is also THEIR choice. (I guess that's the good thing about financial planning... set up what you want to happen with YOUR money and if your kids don't like it when you die, oh well)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:07PM
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Let me expand -- most children expect that whatever their parents have left when its all over, it will go to them. I dont have any issues with people planning, its when they dont plan it gets ugly.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:13PM
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I'm 39, my mom and dad are 63 & 64 respectively. They are divorced and dad is much better off than mom. I have NO IDEA what my dad has 'planned', nor would I assume or expect anything of what he has worked all his life for. It's his and if he meets a 25 year old cutie that makes him feel like he's 30 again and leaves it all to her... that's his business. If she is a conniving gold digger con artist, unless I can prove it, there isn't much I could do. (of course, there is no harm in doing a background check to protect him from being taken advantage of) but he is a big boy and can make his own life choices. Some older guys get involved with young women they KNOW are just there for the money but they want it anyways. If they don't care, why should I? I work & have my own life, my own money and will build my own future... not wait around for an inheritance that may or may not come. Where are these "most children" you speak of? Most people that lose their parents after age 40...

I'd pose this question to the readers: Anyone of you over 40 expecting your inheritance? (maybe I'm too optimistic!)

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:40PM
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Sorry but in my opinion that is not a marriage. I think i am a very modern woman in most ways but not when it comes to dating and marriage. At the last minute my husband wanted to live together a while before we married. i gave him back the engagement ring immediately. he quickly decided he didn't want to lose me and we married at the scheduled time. i found later that his ex didn't want him married in case she changed her mind and wanted him back.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 10:53PM
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I am over 40, and I expect when my widowed mother passes away everyhting will be divided between her children. Would I rahter she spent it all on her heself -- yes. DO I think she will -- no.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 6:46AM
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I was over 40 when I inherited and yes, I knew I would have an inheritance. My parents made it clear many years ago that they wanted to leave me something and I am very clear that it is my responsibility to leave my DS something so he doesn't have to start from scratch.

That's how wealth is built from generation to generation. However, I never expected my parents to sacrifice in any way so I could inherit and I don't think they did, they just kept things intact. But, I still worked, saved, and invested on my own and with DH, still do.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 9:33AM
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I am the middle aged daughter of an intact family. My father died three years ago leaving everything to my mother. when she dies what is left will be divided between myself and three other siblings. Now if my husband dies he has a will stating that everything be divided equally between his two children and myself. I will get our home. My will states that the remaining portion of what I have and have inherited from my husbands estate will go to my children. If there were to be any dispute about the house with his kids I would divide the profit of our home between our four children. He built the house before we were married and we have lived in it together for the last ten years. He added my name to the deed after we married. This is how we have agreed to do things.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 10:15AM
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Kelly, I happen to agree with you that there can be a gender bias in the perception of these things. And I think it was an interesting experiment you conducted to ask your question with the gender factor removed from the equation. It would also have been interesting to see the question asked from the other side, also with the factor of gender removed. We actually have seen several instances on this forum where a woman discussed a situation where she was the primary breadwinner or the one with the more significant assets, and most posters on this forum were outraged that the man in question was not paying more toward household expenses (and, by the way, the question of ownership rights/equity never came up). When wife is more solvent and husband doesn't pitch in towards household bills, it is usually seen as he is a freeloader/ gigolo/sponge who's 'taking advantage'; when the genders are reversed it is seen as 'the way it should be', with husband 'taking care of' wife. There is definitely a double-standard, and to me personally it's upsetting and limiting for both genders (I happen to be a woman).

Not to mention, from my perspective as an adult step-child, that there's also a double-standard regarding the concept of "adulthood". The belief is held by many step-parents that when the stepchildren reach the ripe old age of 18, they are "adults" and as such should never be helped out financially ever again. A very mega-big deal is made out of the word "adult" and it's often used in all-caps --"ADULT"-- like to remind everyone how little right the stepchild has to EXPECT (that's another big bone of contention: EXPECTATIONS) anything. Meanwhile many of these exact same step-parents ---ADULTS themselves--- EXPECT to be 'taken care of' financially (in one way or the other), kind of like the dependent children they not only *don't want* their stepchildren to be but flat-out *judge and condemn* them for being ---again, as 'freeloading', 'sponging', 'spoiled' and just plain rotten. When any financial issue comes up between spouses which questions that EXPECTATION, they get real mad and even morally appalled that their expectation is even being questioned. It's an inherent double-standard and logical fallacy, much like the gender one. Which ADULT loved ones are to be financially provided for and which aren't? Who has a right to EXPECT certain things and who doesn't have a right to EXPECT a G.D. thing? And based on what rules/criteria? I only bring this whole second issue up because some posters seem absolutely bewildered by the idea that a spouse who is also a bio-parent would want to provide for not only one ADULT whom they love dearly (their spouse) but for other ADULTS whom they love dearly as well (be it their ADULT children, their ADULT best friend, their ADULT hairstylist or for some people their ADULT CAT.)

I actually bring these points up frequently, and no one ever really responds to them. I think that's because, admittedly, it's easier for any of us to feel like WE, because of our supremely important role (as spouse, or as offspring, or as cat...) have a right to EXPECT and others don't, because it gives us an illusion of reassurance or certainty even where there isn't any... b/c at the end of the day, people are going to do what they want to do. But if we convince ourselves that OUR ROLE, OUR PLACE, OUR NEEDS are ***THE MOST IMPORTANT***, it lets us delude ourselves for a while that we stand a greater chance of getting what we think we deserve, or just what we want.

There's biases related to all these things, and admittedly we all have some bias or another, but when you really start breaking some of these things down, it doesn't often make a whole lot of sense. And even worse, there's often valid points on all sides which are in direct conflict with each other and so many of these things are simply never going to be resolvable in a way that pleases all of the people all of the time.

Again, I don't think surviving spouse (of either gender and no matter which marriage) should be displaced out of their house if at all avoidable, and I agree that anyone who contributes to a house should have an ownership stake in it if possible. With contribution should come the privilege of ownership/residence (and vice-versa). But I also understand why it's just not that simple for Jessie to say "oh well, I guess that means my kids are S.O.L." because I understand why she wants to look after their future interests too, simply because she loves them, no matter how old they are. That's why it's good that there are fair workable alternatives such as keeping that house as a rental property and/or setting up a 'life estate' arrangement by will so no one is completely put out.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 12:16PM
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Ah the magical age of 18....

If said 18 yr old is a decent kid going to school working whatever being productive I have yet to see a step/parent complain about helping said child out.

But if the same 18 yr sleeps till the crack of noon reacts to everything like they are 12 then want the same hand out thats when step/parents gripe.

and productive is subjective as well what may be productive in one house may not be in another.

Are they working to support their drug habit while you pay all their bills? not productive

Are they enrolled in classes for college but have yet to buy the books even though you gave them the money 3 months ago... not productive.

Going to school working minimal but wants XXXXX sure let me see what I can do.

Going to school working minimal but wants XYand Z because afterall you brought me into this world.

And as we all have seen on the news recently .... just because you're rich today doesn't mean you will be tomorrow. Maddoff scammed lots of people out of lots of money.

Ask your spouse do you really want me to pay rent? when she answers yes say ok well

I'll be deducting from my monthly rent payment anything I do that is a landlords responsibility.

Taking out the trash from the backyard to curbside.
Recycling bins same goes
Major and Minor maintenance of said dwelling.
right down to plunging the toilet if your spouse had to pay someone to come in and do it it would cost a fortune.
YOu said you drive SC to school well thats chauffeur pay.
you charge per mile.

She might rethink "rent" but still charge a little extra for you to remain her bedmate.

Personally if my spouse said I had to pay rent I would be the worst tenant in the world. any apartment dwellers would know I would be banging the ceilings with my broom every time his kids walked down the stairs. (always lived in a house no clue that you shouldn't stomp up and down the stairs to go up or down)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:25PM
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I like the fact that you are the man in the relationship. It makes my response even easier.

First of all this should have all been worked out BEFORE the wedding. I am sure that you can see why at this point.

There are many women who think that their husbands should "take care" of them because they are "THE SPOUSE" In this day and age both people work and need to share in the expenses. You cant live anywhere for free. I dont care how much homemaking a women does. You have to pay to live somewhere and the bills that go with that. It sounds like to me that you are paying way more than you should be. Why are you paying for HER kids? Let her and their father pay for them.

From the way it sounds is that she is using you at this point. She has you to pay for her kids, take her on trips, pay for other expenses and now she wants rent?

At some point in your life you are not going to have a place to live. That would be my concern at this point. I would tell her to take a hike and move out and move on. I have a feeling she knows that the relationship might not last and she is trying to suck every penny out of you she can.

Ask yourself this-What are you getting out of this relationship? You get to give your money to someone who does not appreciate you and you get to raise someone elses kids! WOW what a deal.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:03PM
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I apologize for assuming you were the wife. My response would be the same. Look out for yourself if you are not in a true 'partnership'. In my opinion, in a marriage both parties take care of and look out for each other. You can't have a one sided marriage... unless BOTH parties are happy with it being one sided.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:29PM
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I guess at my age, I am never going to understand what someone else referred to as a modern woman. I knew you were the male gender because I kept looking for some kind of gender reference, only to be disappointed at first and then angry that you were obviously trying to hide it. Reading the first several responses kept me wondering out loud, while I sit here alone, why everyone was assuming you are the woman. No one, absolutely no one, writes that way. There would be some mention of "him" or "her." Thus, it was apparent you wanted non-gender-biased responses. I'm sorry I cannot oblige. Like I said, perhaps I will never be a modern woman, at least not in this respect.

To me, "the man pays for the bed." Those were the words spoken to me when I was 17 years old by an elderly couple, who were close family friends. I realize that is the way it used to be, but I am not going to fault your wife for feeling you should pay more. Not in the form of rent because I don't understand a spouse asking their partner to pay rent of all things. I can't help thinking she feels the same way I do or that she feels you are not paying for enough for some reason. You can itemize all you want. It won't answer the questions I have, which is mainly why your wife is asking rent of you. Besides, I don't understand what you mean by that 10% thing anyway. You pay for as long as the bills walk through the door every month. How could it possibly matter what it all amounts to? Aren't you still living there with her? What does When all is said and done, the amount of money I have given to Jessie, after accounting for common expenses, is equal to ~10% of the house value" mean? It means you are telling me you're counting (just like all your other itemizing) and keeping track, and you probably do it all the time, which is so annoying that I would more likely tell your butt to leave than ask you for a nickel. If I'm wrong, which I doubt since that is exactly what you found reason to do here, then I apologize. But, that wouldn't change my answer. You need to be a man and step up instead of trying to show your wife and us that you have more value than you actually do and how determined and tight you are to only do just so much for her. And stop counting every time you lift a finger and every penny that you part with. You are getting on her nerves.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 12:28AM
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This must have really bugged me because I can't sleep, and this is just about all I could think about. The very idea that you posted this the way you did is evidence you know what you are supposed to be doing but refuse to do it. No double standard for you, right? You insist you will force her into your version of feminism and equality. So, you came here to itemize and nitpick your way into favor and garner support by deception. I think what bothers me most is what some women put up with. No way should she ever have married you, but no doubt you fooled her into that just like your effort to dupe everyone here. She's on to you now and finally making you pay your way. I just hope she stands her ground. I also hope she stumbles onto this thread because I keep ruining your plan to show it to her.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:44AM
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I'd pose this question to the readers: Anyone of you over 40 expecting your inheritance? (maybe I'm too optimistic!)

My parents were divorced, and our mom, well, she doesn't have any money to inherit. She lives the "life of Reilly" regardless because we all fiercely compete for the privilege of taking care of her.

Our dad has money, but frankly, so do we. Neither I, or any of my FULL siblings are in any need of his money. However, our youngest half-brother, has been through hell, is pretty screwed up and our dad's taking care of him now, so we fully expect he'll leave everything to him.

Our dad has a lovely girlfriend and it would be great if they got married, but neither one want to burden or obligate the other in the event they became incapacitated. For that sole reason, they also keep separate residences and don't comingle anything.

But before her, when our dad had just turned 60, he was engaged to another woman, and they didn't get married for this very reason, Basically, she had a house and other asset, but while she felt her assets should be kept private, his house should become "community property" and wanted him to designate her as beneficiary of everything else as well. Her reasoning for this was not only that she was female, but also a number of years younger. So she was facing the probability that he would pass long before she would and didn't he feel he should help provide for her in the years to come, when she would be all alone?

Well, he told us flat-out that there was no way he was going to allow the efforts of his entire life's work end up being inherited by HER children, instead of his own. He didn't work that hard, for that many years, to give it all away to someone else's kids.

They tried to work this out for 5 years. He suggested a number of compromises to ensure she was properly provided for after he passed, but she wouldn't budge. He finally gave up and moved on. She wasn't expecting that and then tried to get him back for quite a while, but he was all done.

I can see her side, but I'm with my dad on this. I don't have any problem with our half-brother receiving all our dad's inheritance, but her kids? Why would he ever agree to something like that? Aside from not being family, they were full-grown and were rude, nasty and treated him horribly! For that, they should get rewarded by receiving everything he owned?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:49AM
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If people do not like word EXPECT, then here goes. I do not WANT to inherit anything. yes i am after 40.

I sincerely want my parents to have good life when they are elderly, so i want them to spend every penny on themselves or whatvever. believe me, i am being sincere. It could be cultural, but for me discussion about what's going to happen with their money or house when my parents die, is a bad taste.

i also think that often because parents weren't taking care of their children when children needed it (such as help wiht college for example) then maybe it is expected to at least get something when they die. Maybe if one resents their parents for not ever being there, then hey at least give me something when you die. maybe...sounds bad but who knows.

I don't know... but we help each other (sometimes maybe with money, or sometimes wiht other things) when anyone needs help and we do it while we are still alive.

Some people here don't think that parents should help children to obtain education but they think it is OK to expect parents to put money or houses aside so kids can get it when they die. I just find it well beyond my comprehension.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 9:48AM
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answer to your question about expecting inheritance. I am 42. My dad is 71 and mom is 63. I do not expect anything. My brother is 41, I know he expects nothing either.

We are not wealthy. We are all professionals and have a decent life but we are not rich. maybe, imamommy, those who are wealthy expect more. We don't.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 9:58AM
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there is a big difference between helping and providing for, in my opinion.

as about who is ADULT. In my opinion if children are still in college (or vocational training)which normally is anywhere between 18-23 (maybe 24) they are still dependent, not fully adults. after that it is OK to help, but they are ADULTS and should not be fully provided for. if they want to continue education beyond their initial one, they usually take loans and manage it part time etc.

maybe it would be nice to still feel like a child in 30s and 40s and expect people ro provide for you( you in
general not YOU) but I would be rather embarassed.

We do not consider DD fully independent because although she pays her cost of living and maintains her own residence, her dad pays her tuition and it is a lot of money. DD will graduate college in 2010. she will be 22. She eventually plans to get graduate degree but she plans on doing it on her own. Of course we will always help her when she needs it. But she does not expect that. and knowing her, she cannot wait to get her degree so she can be fully independent (not like we won't ever help of course).

i know for a fact that DD has no plans for dad's house. I could actually ask her as a joke, if something happens to her dad what should happen with his house. DD lives on her own, and does not need to have anyone's house. She visits but does not live there permanently. It is not her house.

Like with your dad and SM, they lived there. You live on your own. It was not your house. If adult children actually phsyically live wiht parents, then maybe it would be different. i don't know.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 10:12AM
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Maybe the problem is with the word expect. I do anticipate that my mom will leave her estate to her children. I would rather she spend on herself, and me and siblings to give her money.

I also expect that I will get up Monday morning and go to work.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 10:46AM
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Maybe I should have also asked what would you do if your parents left everything they have to someone else.. not family. (ie. the neighbor that had coffee with them everyday or the kid that stopped by to visit and keep them company or anyone else that they WANTED to leave it to that isn't family)

As to parents not wanting to let someone else's kids be the beneficiaries, that is the purpose of wills and planning. I guess I should have been a little more specific in asking the question. Expecting or anticipating something like an inheritance might lead to hard feelings if you later find out they left it all to the SPCA or someone else. How many people know exactly what their parents are going to do with their things/money? I know I don't know what my dad has planned, nor do I care. If he gives it away to a friend or one of my siblings (or me), that isn't even a thought.

I was just curious who kkny was talking about when she said 'most children'. My kids, when they were younger, knew I had written a will just before I had a major surgery. They discussed who was going to get what (personal belongings) and almost started an argument. I read them the riot act but they were just kids. They were acting childish. The saddest court papers I have to serve, are on family suing family in probate court. Nothing as sad as 50-60 year old siblings fighting like teenagers over their parent's things. And wills being contested??? If they wrote a will, they made their wishes known... right?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 12:02PM
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I meant most adult children, not small children. I am sorry you had to face major surgery when your children were small. I think most middle aged children expect that last surviivng parents will leav to them. Ima, part of my conern is that without a will default in most sttates is dad's estate goes to current wife -- even if she is has been married to him for 2 weeks.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 12:14PM
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I also wonder if it is more a question of "expecting" an inheritance from spouse but "not expecting" one from parents?

The blanket admonition that "one shouldn't expect anything" gets applied, but without distinction.

So I would ask those of you who strongly maintain that you have absolutely no expectations of your parents leaving you an inheritance: do you, similarly, have absolutely no expectations of your spouse leaving you any kind of inheritance?

I make a point of asking that because I see many people adamantly denying ---even morally outraged at the idea of--- "expecting" any inheritance from their parents... and I also see many people morally outraged at the idea that their spouse might NOT leave them an inheritance, or not 100% of the inheritance and instead might dare divide his/her own hard-won assets between spouse and children (or spouse and anybody else) as s/he sees fit. Sometimes these are the selfsame people trying to argue both points simultaneously, which are basically inconsistent. At least as regards the concept of having "no expectations".

Either you argue for having "no expectations" or not. Personally, I happen to agree with the philosophy that NO ONE should EXPECT an inheritance... or expect much of anything in this world. Not so much from a moralistic viewpoint (although a little bit) but from a more self-protective stance and the desire to stay flexible, free from emotional hurt and to avoid bitter deflation. But this stuff about one's kids should have no expectations but one's spouse can/should expect everything is more than I can stomach. It's basically a statement that some people have the right to expect and others don't. Which is fine if one cops up to believing that and doesn't hide it under a moralistic and hypocritical umbrella admonition that "NO ONE" should expect while secretly believing that they themselves are allowed to. Many people believe, based on various worldviews, etc. that spouses are simply "more important" than children. I don't happen to agree, or think it's that simple, but many people have this philosophy. They should just have the guts to say that out loud instead of hiding it behind an unevenly-applied false platitude about "expectations".

Because really ---and no matter firmly "in the right" spouse (OR KIDS, for that matter) may believe their position on the subject to be--- the "split" platitude about expectations is a dangerously hypocritical position to adopt, which I'll explain by way of personal example. I know my SM sure as heck "expected" that my Dad would leave her absolutely everything he owned, even though for many many years and from the very beginning he adamantly informed us both that he would be dividing things between she and I in his will. And SHE smugly warned ME, up through the day before his will was read: "you're only disappointed by your own expectations", as this had become her new favorite thing to say to me. Like she thought *I* needed to be warned about having inflated/unfounded expectations. She so EXPECTED that she was so "obviously" and firmly "in the right" about her position ---even despite everything she'd ever been told by my Dad on the matter--- that she felt she could hypocritically tell ME to not have any expectations, and therein lies the irony and the danger. When my Dad's will was read the next day and he had divided things between us, just as he'd always said he was going to do, it was not what SHE was expecting. It wasn't what *I* was expecting, either, because I'd long-since steeled myself for the possibility that SM would succeed in making him change his will to accomodate her expectations. I'm not sure if my SM had prepared herself to be disappointed by her own expectations, but I hope she was prepared b/c her expectations were out of line, all along, with the realities of the situation she continually chose to stay in. Which I have to wonder if she stayed in, in part, based on her own expectations.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 12:59PM
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Serenity, I find it hard to believe your SM was surprised by the content of the will....What kind of relationship exists where the husband or wife dont know whats in each others wills?DH and I have a copy of each others, cant fanthom otherwise...

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 1:48PM
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Hi thermometer,
I agree with you, we pay the bills as long as they come in the door; the disconnect here is that while Im paying my share of those bills which are coming in the door, my wife does not want me to have any share in the house. After this came up ~three months ago, I did spend time to ascertain whether or not that would be fair to me, because I have felt I had been contributing a significant amount of money for our family, including paying for many things for her children just as if they are my own. So, after reviewing the past four years it became clear to me that I have contributed much more than my fair share and that if we had reviewed this stuff before marrying, I would not have contributed the amount that I have.

I have to say that you are on the same page as my wife in that she has made similar statements to yours re; my needing to be the man. To her, if she passes, I am a man and I have a job, I can take care of myself and should not need any portion of her house. So, it is slowly sinking in that to take care of myself means that I should not be contributing so much money to this "family"; because I will not get my fair share and will be left out in the cold with a large financial loss.

That is why Ive posted this question, because I believe I am being a man in every sense of the meaning as far as finances go, and even more so by being a parent to her high school age child who is still living with us (and I can say with a very clear conscience that I am the one who has been the parent by being there for and guiding her child).

Oh, you have a second post right after well, what can I say? Ive been honestly looking for feedback to my situation, for which Ive received a lot ** thanks everyone! **. Ill try to clear the air with you: In this second post you say she is finally on to me and finally making me pay my way? I respectfully point out that you have it backwards; to use your way of thinking, I am finally on to her. Also, my intention was not deception but fairness; I subsequently posted why I wrote it the way I did, and asked that if anybodys response would now be different to please say so because Im looking for the fair way to deal with this, and if my wife (and you) are correct and conventional wisdom states that I as the man should contribute significantly more money than my share and be okay with, I dont know, my wife passing in twenty years and my not having a place to live or even a share of the value of the house I dont know, thats what Im trying to understand and deal with.

BTW, my wife is the one who told me about this forum about a month ago, though I dont believe shes ever posted. I dont think shes seen this yet, but I know she will; either very soon when I show it to her or on her own.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 2:56PM
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It don't know that Kelly's problem is so much about inheritance, per se; it sounds more like a disagreement of what constitutes mine, yours, and ours . Jessie brought a significant asset (a mostly-paid-for house) into the marriage and thinks it's "hers". Kelly has since been contributing enough to ongoing expenses that he feels he's earned a stake in what he now sees as "their" house. Personally, the strict division of finances that Jessie seems to want doesn't sound like the kind of marriage I would want, but there may be reasons for it we don't know about. Kelly is old enough to have grown children, claims to make reasonable money, but didn't mention having any assets of his own that he brought into the marriage; maybe he has a history of financial irresponsibility that makes Jessie leery of combining finances and assets? Or maybe there are other reasons we don't know about. I do NOT think gender should be an issue, but I do think we don't really know enough about the situation to conclude Jessie is taking advantage of Kelly (although it's certainly a possibility). A couple of you above also mentioned having separate finances and/or separate assets in your marriage, it's just the word "rent" that has everyone up in arms. I wonder if his situation is really that different from yours or if it's just the language being used.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 3:06PM
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Kelly, here is a drastic, but possible solution: Jessie should sell her house and the two of you should buy a new house - one that will be both of yours. You each need to kick in money for the down payment, as well as the montly mortgage payments. This way it should be very easy to determine the percentages of each parties' interest in the house.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 4:07PM
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Wow! What a story about the SM. Can I ask what her reaction when she found out?

I also find it very mean to have said those things to you.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 4:46PM
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I think what gerina said makes sense as it's similar to the plans that I have with my future H. I own the house we live in currently. I have 2 teenagers. Future H has offered (I never asked) to contribute 25% of the mortgage payments every month. In exchange for doing this, we've agreed that he will get the equivalent of what he put into the house back as credit when we sell it. Our plan is to sell the house when the kids go off to college and buy a house together. Future H also pays around half of the household expenses, but none of the kids' expenses.

Is your wife receiving child support for her children?

If her children are older (high school age) then it's possible that your wife has started looking at the shocking expense of college and has begun to panic a little bit - I know I did at first. This is the time to start discussing what you're willing to contribute towards their college, if anything. Know that your income must by law be included in any financial aid forms that she files, regardless of your intent to contribute. With your added income shown on the forms (FAFSA and Profile) it's very possible that the children will not be eligible for need-based aid that they might otherwise qualify for with your wife's income alone.

I agree with others who have suggested that this is something to be discussed and formalized with a pre-nup, but it's not too late to come to an agreement. Perhaps if you were to start from the stance of "I love you Jessie, I love your kids, I love our life together, I want us to be equal partners from now forward, let's figure out what that means from a financial perspective..." it might open up an honest conversation about expectations that both of you have for the medium term (while kids are at home) and the longer term (when you're on your own just the 2 of you).

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 8:42PM
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I think parents would leave money to someone else not family (i mean not children, grandchildren or spouses) when someone else was closer to them than the family. I think it would be fair. If parents were ill and elderly but kids weren't helping to take care of them then why would kids expect somehting? It would make sense if parents leave money to a hospital nurse.

i am not saying they should leave money to whoever takes care of them, but I think if someone is closer than the family then why not? some families are very distant so why not leave money to some closer person. like the best friend.

I would not expect anything from a spouse either. but spouses usually live with each other so they share a house, also they take care of each other on a daily basis while most adult children live far away and rarely see each other.

it makes sense whoever is there a day after day and shares good and bad probably could expect something. at least expect not being kicked out of their house for the sake of adult children who maybe saw their parents once in a blue moon.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:05AM
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dotz, I also found it rather strange that SM was supposed not to know what is in the will. Does not make much sense to me. I think at first serenity said that SM acted like it is fair. Because it was fair. If she was surprised, then about what? That DH was fair? weird.

Kelly, I would not stay in this kind of marriage. You running a risk to be on the street one day and since you contribute to a family so much you won't have any savings to move on. maybe you should move on now. sounds like Jessie is married to her children, not to you.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:18AM
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"Ima, part of my conern is that without a will default in most sttates is dad's estate goes to current wife -- even if she is has been married to him for 2 weeks."

I agree. A will is something everyone that wants to direct what will happen after they die, should have. If someone fails to make a will, it's their irresponsibility that may lead to their adult children not getting anything and their current spouse getting everything. It wouldn't be the new spouses fault, it would be the parent's. If someone wants to provide to their adult children, they should make those provisions while they are alive and of sound mind. A will should be updated whenever there is a major change such as marriage, divorce, birth or death. and when there is a substantial change in assets. and always, when the parent changes what they want done with their things and who they want to get what.

When my husband met me, he had never changed the life insurance beneficiary from his ex. They had a policy that paid each other if the other died. He said it was to take care of his daughter if anything happened to him. Now, I agree he needs to think of his daughter, but his ex is SOOO irresponsible... I mean her mom is raising her other daughter while she is still collecting the child support to live off of. So, I talked him into changing the beneficary to his parents in trust for his daughter with his brother taking over if anything happened to his parents. I would not be involved at all.

Financial planning is important and if someone doesn't want their wife of two weeks to get everything, instead of their middle aged kids, then they need to take care of that by making a will. I agree it would irritate me if that happened but if my dad wants me to have anything, he should make a will. If he doesn't, he's gambling that things will happen the way he wants. Fortunately, I know my dad does have a will. I don't know what it says, but it has his wishes and whatever they are, I won't be disappointed because I don't have any expectations.

and FD, I agree if there are non family members that are closer to them than family, it's up to them. I know a few situations where kids are terrible to their parent (including my stepmom) and the kids expected something just because they are 'family'. They sure didn't act like family.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:35AM
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"So I would ask those of you who strongly maintain that you have absolutely no expectations of your parents leaving you an inheritance: do you, similarly, have absolutely no expectations of your spouse leaving you any kind of inheritance?"

I don't 'expect' my husband to leave me everything. I expect to have what we have worked for together. I am working, I am paying on the assets he brought into the marriage, so yes I think I have an interest in those things, even if I am not titled on them. I also have an interest in his retirement... an interest, not that I should fully benefit with it all. His daughter is a minor and should be provided for. His will should direct what he wants to happen with regard to her, as a minor and as an adult. Parent/Adult child relationship is not the same as a spouse relationship, which is usually a partnership. I rely on my partner for support... I don't rely on my parents for support. If my husband wanted me to quit working and stay home to take care of his daughter or if his daughter was grown and we agreed I would stay home to take care of the house and him, it is still a partnership if it's what we agree on.

Of course, every marriage (and relationship) is different and a whirlwind marriage is not comparable to a long term relationship where the partners aren't even married. That is why it's important for people to make a will, not leave it up to the state and the laws that don't consider the extenuating circumstances of each individual relationship.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:54AM
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I agree, I think full disclosure of all assets and liabilites before marriage and time to consider issues and then agreement and then will (and prenup if necessary) is way to go. Of course, if you have two people getting married right out of school, without a lot of money and no kids, it likely isnt necessary to do much of anything. The further you get from this, the more foresight is necesssary.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:24AM
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I might feel I'm entitled to more if I am married (or in the relationship as your SM was) for 20-25 years, but I would never expect everything and his (or my) kids get nothing, unless the kids gave reason to exclude them. It sounds as if your SM has serious character flaws to say such nasty things to you and it's also possible that she was told (by your dad) that she was getting more (or everything) when you were not around and now the joke is on her... if so, high five your dad on that!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:26AM
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Ima, every relationship is different. You may be contributing to financial assets of household and caring for minor children of your DH. I cant remember everyone here, but I dont think Serenity's SM does. You're right -- Serentiys dad could have been two faced, but given that the SM tryied to keep the kids from seeing dad, I dont think so. But we never know about all facts hear. Serentity's SM could have been expecting all on the theory that if dad didnt have a will, current wife gets all.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 11:35AM
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"I would not expect anything from a spouse either. but spouses usually live with each other so they share a house, also they take care of each other on a daily basis while most adult children live far away and rarely see each other. It makes sense whoever is there a day after day and shares good and bad probably could expect something. at least expect not being kicked out of their house for the sake of adult children who maybe saw their parents once in a blue moon."

FD, I agree that if any expectations are to be had by spouse, the argument that spouse lives in house and provides (hopefully at least some) financial/logistical/emotional support on a daily basis makes for as reasonable an expectation as any that spouse will inherit something, at least a big chunk (if not all) of things directly related to house itself. I wouldn't find that to be an unrealistic or hypocritical expectation, because it follows a certain logic and there are practical reasons for it.

The main area I could see it getting very tricky specifically with family home is if the house was where stepkids grew up during their bio-parents' marriage... or if house is something like Graceland or some other extreme circumstance where it's clearly far more significant than just any old house. Which is why, too, I agree with Gerina and everyone who has advised that if at all possible, Jessie & Kelly should have the goal of starting fresh in a new house that they both share responsibility/ownership of, meanwhile ideally finding alternative ways of providing for Jessie's kids since Jessie obviously finds that important.

It also seems like most of us on this forum can agree that if anyone's going to 'expect' anything, that expecting things to be somehow DIVIDED (even if it isn't totally equal) between step-parent and step-kids is much more understandable than anyone expecting to get absolutely everything, which I find ridiculous for anyone to do. That is really the only thing that I found objectionable about my SM having expectations: her expectations were excessive, completely exclusive and greedy out of all reality per the situation. At least any *version* of the reality of my Dad's plans that I'd ever been privy to.

But I, too, wonder whether my Dad made her certain promises. If he did, though, I truly, truly don't think it was just to be deceptive for no reason. I was there enough to witness how pushy she could be with her demands, relentlessly bringing them up over and over and over again and pouting or otherwise throwing fits to make her points when other tactic backfired. When he got sick, it was probably just too much effort to put up the resistance he had for so many years prior. I think maybe he was scared of her leaving him with cancer, and that he possibly nodded his head or said "don't worry" or something like that to her to get her to momentarily cease her demands. And she ought not to feel 'betrayed' or anything now because it serves her right for pushing him so hard.

As for how surprised she may have been, it's a double-edged sword: hopefully not SURPRISED, but probably DISAPPOINTED. And of course I am not inside her head to really know what she's thinking, I can only guess. The day of will reading, she was stoic, and of course she SHOULDN'T have been surprised, and most likely she'd rather die than show her disappointment in front of me (and/or Executor). But she also wanted me out of that house ASAP, and she's also made no effort to reach out to me or respond to me since he died. So she may not have been surprised but my guess is she was/is disappointed.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 12:36PM
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Maybe I should have also asked what would you do if your parents left everything they have to someone else.. not family. (ie. the neighbor that had coffee with them everyday or the kid that stopped by to visit and keep them company or anyone else that they WANTED to leave it to that isn't family)


If my father would marry his current GF and leave absolutely everything to her, all my siblings and I would be just fine. She is a wonderful woman and a beautiful person in every way. She makes him happy and is so good to him that as far as we're concerned, she is entitled to every and anything he wants her to have.

If he had married that other one though? OH MY GOD! She was very pretty, ever so sweet, great company, lots of fun to be around....and we were scared to death of her! Oh so charming--like a snake!

If any possibility had existed that this woman might actually have taken CARE of our dad, especially considering she was 15 his junior, why wouldn't she be entitled to his entire estate? Well, that possibility did not exist.

His GF owned property only about 20 miles from my house, while our dad lives a good 1,200 miles away in Florida. One day, our dad called me from Florida, about 1 hour after he had an operation, for colon cancer, not to tell me how his operation went--but to ask whether his GF had arrived at my house yet! Apparently, the day before his surgery was scheduled, instead of remaining by his side, his GF decided to come visit ME, and check on her property instead. Not only hadn't she been invited, she didn't feel it was necessary to tell me she was coming in advance!

When she arrived later that day, she proceeded telling me about all the problems she had on her trip--never once calling our dad, asking about him, in fact, his name never came up! I waited and waited for her to say something about our dad, or ask about his operation--for 4 HOURS SOLID! I couldn't take it any longer and finally interrupted her to say, "By the way, my dad called and his operation went well," and she actually responded, "Oh," and just kept on going with stories about her trip!

And then, while our dad recouperated all alone, she remained at my house FOR OVER A MONTH! Along with her very sick, elderly puppy dog--who was also incontinent! Oh, and then she picked up her 6 y/o GD to stay with us too! Not only did she never once buy food or help out, she never walked or cleaned up after her dog, and in fact, she never once made a single meal for her GD! Every night when I got home from work that poor little girl was starving, so I had to start getting up in the morning to make her breakfast, and prepare lunches for the both of them in advance!

Couldn't very well say anything to our dad about it, not while he was recouperating from his operation. The only reason she left was because my sister called one day and left a message on my machine that our dad was doing well and "BTW, his GF's been MIA for over a month now." Obviously, I wasn't home, but guess who was, and overheard that message? No, she didn't go running back to see how our dad was doing, but to yell at him about that message my sister had left on my phone!

When they announced their engagement, her own family reacted by cringing. Oh, and 2 previous husbands? Yeah, they both died under somewhat "mysterious" circumstances.

Right there and then, my siblings and I labeled her, "the black widow", formed a pact and swore a BLOOD OATH, that if that wedding ever went through, and our dad died an untimely death, as we were 100% positive he would, we would all dedicate the REST OF OUR LIVES, not only tying his estate up in probate until there was nothing left, but also actively pursuing every possible legal means to TAKE HER DOWN!

We had already hired PIs to start investigating those "mysterious circumstances" surrounding her previous husbands' deaths, when our dad dumped her--thank the LORD!

I can't say we ever wondered what our dad ever saw in her in the first place because we already knew. It was those 3 little magical letters, s e x.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 2:57PM
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"It also seems like most of us on this forum can agree that if anyone's going to 'expect' anything, that expecting things to be somehow DIVIDED (even if it isn't totally equal) between step-parent and step-kids is much more understandable than anyone expecting to get absolutely everything, which I find ridiculous for anyone to do."

And may I ask how you would suggest ours be divided? I'm 66, DH is 71,we have 6 children all married with their own family and all doing well. I brought more into the marriage than he did, worked all my life until I became disabled a few years ago. So if he dies first you're saying what WE have should be divided between myself & 6 children? And my standard of living should go WAY down in order to do this? Suppose I need help taking care of myself? Even though we've worked and planned well for retirement if what we have is divided 7 ways I think things might be a little tight. I feel the same way should I die first, why should he not have what we've worked for. I feel very confident that none of our children want anything of ours until we are both gone and if they don't get anything then that will be OK too.

My kids dad recently got a serious girlfriend 28 years after we divorced. He is rather well off and my daughters' opinion is that if they marry and that makes him happy in his remaining years that's fine with them if they don't get the money. My DS has no use for him and has told me he doesn't want anything the man has.

Sorry to hijack your post, Kellyz. Like others have said I think the two of you should start fresh and accumulate your finances/property together. Most people don't want to 'rent' and not have anything to show for it. Sounds too much like a business deal to me.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 6:55PM
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I don't think there necessarily have to be any 'shoulds' (i.e. expectations) regarding what any individual chooses to do with their own assets... this is the crux of the point this thread's been debating (but mostly agreeing on) about the importance of NOBODY having too many expectations... Or at least making sure that one's expectations are not out of line with reality, and/or not out-of-line with the wishes/plans of the person whose will/estate is the one in question.

That said, though, because we're all human, we probably all do have our *opinions* on the matter, and I'm no different. So if you're asking me what my personal *opinion* is on your question, or what *I* would personally do... Well, to start with, I probably would have not comingled my finances before discussing wills and other majorly important issues with my spouse and determining that we were both absolutely on the same page about all financial questions that we would be capable of forseeing (the "death and taxes" thing definitely applies here). I hope that is the case with you and your husband. Hopefully your question is merely rhetorical and that by now everyone in your blended family is fully aware of what would happen in the event of anyone's death. So in that case my opinion doesn't matter.

But, again, you did ask for my opinion, so here would be my approach, in your situation:

-determine if my spouse and I agree on how to provide for our (respective and/or collective) children in the event of our deaths. If so, comingle assets. If not, keep 'em separate for ease of more accurately determining which assets are each spouse's own to allocate as each sees fit.

-if neither spouse wants to give anything to kids, make out simple "sweetheart wills" and leave it at that.

-but if one or more spouses wish to provide something for any kids, probably best for each spouse to deal with their own bio-kids' inheritances (and agree on joint contribution to any bio-kids they share in common)

-then consider relative needs of all parties, size of family and other logistics and priorities. Obviously a widow in her 70's who's never worked outside the home but raised all her husband's children for many years ---or grown child in his 20's who has a severe disability--- has greater dependency needs than a person who is young, capable and earning a decent income. Obviously a family with 6 kids is going to mean things have to be spread thinner than in a famly with one kid. And there's nothing saying that "dividing" assets has to mean *in equal parts*. It may be, in your situation, that each of you only decide to leave your own kids a small fraction of what you have. Or, again, nothing at all. But that should be a decision that each parent makes regarding their own children. And just as the kids should not necessarily expect to get anything, it's my opinion that a spouse should not expect to get everything. Again, we're talking about *my own opinion* on what's right, which may or may not be yours or your husband's (or that of any of your kids). But it should by no means be surprising to any spouse (in blended OR intact family) to find that their spouse may wish to leave their own children *something*.

It is your decision and your husband's decision what you want to do with the funds you've each contributed to the marriage. And it's generally not expected that a step-parent will leave assets to stepchildren. This is why many people in second marriages keep finances separate, and/or have prenups, or other means of making "whose assets are whose" more accountable and easy to figure out. But these aren't 'rules', they're just common norms the main value of which is to provide some insight into what many people have found to be fair ways to deal with a very tricky and potentially contentious issue. You and your husband are each free to do whatever you want with your assets.

I think all this can be summed up with "you're entitled to your opinion... but it doesn't mean others will agree with it" and the importance of at least discussing the issue honestly ---and EARLY--- to find out if you're on the same page or not.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:56PM
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So if he dies first you're saying what WE have should be divided between myself & 6 children? And my standard of living should go WAY down in order to do this?


My husband and I have willed everything we have to each other, and after we both pass, whatever remains will be divided in half to be distributed equally, as

1/2 in accordance to his wishes, currently, divided between his 2 daughters, after not only both of us have passed, but, well, shall we say, after an additional event occurs.

1/2 in accordance with my wishes, currently, also be divided between his 2 daughters (who else do I have to leave my money to?) also after both of us have passed, and also after that same additional event occurs.

Of course though, my husband and I have been together going on 25 years now, and we both entered the marriage with absolutely nothing other than debt, so everything we own, we've earned together.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:12AM
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Disengaging, in general, I think the idea of leaving it to SM as to whether children inherit is fraught with issues -- and the if "additional event occurs" -- should be in the judgement of a disinterested party (for example, an aunt or uncle). You, in your vast professional life, have likely seen many situations where a parent has thought his children would ultimately inherit and they did not. As women tend to live longer, it is more likely that, absent estate planning, her children end up with more.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 9:46AM
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"And it's generally not expected that a step-parent will leave assets to stepchildren."

I agree this is true in most cases, but in ours whichever of us that goes last will. We consider all the kids OURS. I recently gave my SS an antique that I could have sold but I knew he wanted it badly so that was worth more than money to me. My DH would do as much for my 3 as he would for his and I would do the same for his.

Disengaging, I'm glad to see I'm not the only person that thinks we deserve to use what we've worked for. Of course we want ALL the kids to have what's left and neither of us are concerned that the other won't do what's right. Until that time comes they're just going to have to work for what they have and I'm quite confident they don't expect otherwise. They've all been told how our will is written and none have a problem with it. Hopefully we have enough to take care of us should we have serious health problems. I don't think any of the kids would want to quit work and have to take care of us.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:13AM
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I wonder if adult children expect inheritance and hope for it because they built up resentment towards their parents, who didn't do enough to their children while children were young and in need.

Also if parents weren't involved enough in kids' life (not money wise but devoting their emotions and time to their children), then i can see how adults can grow up wiht resentment. And maybe they subconciously want that money or a house to make themselves feel better. And when they dislike stepparent maybe winning more than them would make them feel better.

But I don't feel that my parents owe me anything.
My parents were involved wiht us as much as one can hope. they owe me nothing. In fact i owe my parents (not money per se).

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:58AM
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as about who grew up in the house...Just because someone lived in the house at some point as a young child, it does not mean one needs to have it 50 years later. I wonder in divorced families do adult children expect to inherit both houses: mom's and dad's? just because they are their parents? what do adult children base their hopes for the houses?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:59AM
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FD, at least in my or my DDs case, it has nothing to do with resentment, I love my mom, she has been good mom. I just think it is normal that last to die gives to kids.

So if SM inherits, and she remarries, does it end up with her new husband? His kids?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:19PM
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I don't know neither I care. maybe if I would come from a very rich family, I would care.

and if parents are divorced do kids inherit everything from both parents? including houses? and including what parents made together wiht new spouses? how nice...

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:22PM
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Could also sometimes be that kids expect to inherit from parent because parent repeatedly tells them throughout their whole life that they will inherit. If kids are never told this, then sure, any number of things could cause them to have expectations. Perhaps one or more of the things FD described, or because most kids in intact families end up inheriting at least something from their parents, or perhaps the same state intestacy laws which lead many spouses to expect they'll inherit without being told so.

And again, there ARE many, many shades of grey between "spouse gets everything/kids get nothing" and "kids get everything/spouse gets nothing"... or between "spouse gets house forever/kids never get jack" and "kids get house forever/spouse thrown on street like pauper". Reason, balance and a full consideration of needs/assets obviously has to prevail for the desicions to be made fairly.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Well, what can i say I GOT EVERYTHING and i am having a ball spending it. WHOOPIE!

and ya know what, his kids and one of mine made our lives miserable for 30+ years over money. they lived beyond their means and wanted us to pick up the slack which we did and it caused a lot of hard feelings between my husband and myself. Shock of all shocks when my husband died they didn't ask for anything except one daughter asked for a couple of personal things for keepsakes. She even let me pick them.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 7:41PM
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why would parents repeatedly tell their children that they inherit something? why would this topic even come up? how would it start: hey i am going to leave you XYZ. lol repeatedly their whole life? why? I can see how maybe when they wrote the will they said something...but repeatedly tell them their whole life...what for? I get upset to think of my parents dying, as I watch them getting older, why would they be bringing it up my whole life?

Frankly most elderly nowadays don't have anything left at the end. even the rich ones. My mother is a director of a a retirement facility. Not a cheap one.
Even 5 years ago elderly did all right, now they try to break a lease because they have no money left and they are moving in wiht their children.

Who are all these old people who have all this money left? Of course if one dies at 60-65, they have money at that point. But life expectancy is way more than that. My grandparents on dad's side lived over 90. People have many many years of old age, retirement to survive. That's where their money go to. surviving in old age. Some people live 30 years after they retire. we supported my grandmother, not the other way around.

there of course are rich people who accumulated wealth generations after generations. But i do not know too many, if any actually.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 8:12PM
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good for you stargazzer. you were married long enough. and good for your stepkids that they didn't demand anything. I have few keepsakes from my grandparents. they mean the world to me. I want nothing else. I would want keepsakes from my parents. I want nothing else. if they would have extra money, they can leave it to animal shelter. my dad is crazy about animals.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 8:18PM
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Finedreams, I can see how some people might tell their children they will inherit something. Growing up, my family talked about what would happen with a family run business. My grandfather started it 50+ years ago and growing up, my mom would often tell us kids that we will someday own it. When he passed, he left it to his son's (my dad & uncle) My aunt received the residential property. There wasn't much else to distribute... his debts & burial costs took up what cash/liquid assets he had.

My dad bought my uncle's half of the business and is now the sole owner. He has told us that he'd like the business to remain in the family, but has never said we will inherit it. When my stepmom was alive, he took measures to keep her children from laying claim on it when she died. (as if they could. She had no will and they live in a community property state). The assumption was that someday, his children (me & my siblings) would inherit the business since he was very adamant that it should remain a family business. Well, my older sister assumed it would be inherited. Dad has decided that he wants to retire so he is selling us the business... my other (younger) sister and I are buying it. Dad will get retirement money from the sale and we will keep the family business in the family... just as dad wants. Since I am buying it, it may become community property to my DH and me, not sure. We will have to come to terms of how it would be treated if we were to divorce or if either of us dies. Since it is in my name only and I am the one working there (he has his full time job), we will have to discuss with an attorney the legalities of ownership.

However, I never 'assumed' I would inherit it, but I would have been greatly disappointed if my stepmom's children had been successful in claiming any ownership (as they tried to assert it was 'community property' and their mother had an interest in it) but when their attorney conceded in court that it was NOT community property because my dad inherited it from his dad, they went away.

I'm much happier obtaining the business this way. My dad will get to enjoy his retirement, partially funded by us buying his business.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 8:50PM
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Thank you finedreams, thought for sure i would get slammed for my flip attitude. when my husband and i got married, he put my name on his money and his retirement plan. He said he wanted to keep a piece of property for his kids and i was ok with that, but after a couple of years he put my name on the house we lived in, later he put my name on the piece he was going to give to his kids. i think he realized who would always be there for him and that i put up with a lot a lot of crap from his kids and did it like a lady.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 9:34PM
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I can see imamommy when there is a family business involved and people would love their family to continue running that business, such questions would be discussed. And yes it would be very dissapointing if your dad's stepkids get that business. They weren't there neither for their mother, in times of illness, nor for your dad. In fact i hope that they got nothing from their mother.

It also seems to me that your father is there for you while he is around as you are for him. I do have objections when parents aren't there for their children much and yet leave them money when they die. where were they when kids needed help? and I have a problem with kids expecting much even if adult kids were never there while spouse was there 24/7, especially in old age or illness. Like in stargazzer family. i am glad she got it.

It is always more honorable to be there for people while everyone is still alive.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 11:11PM
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"why would parents repeatedly tell their children that they inherit something? why would this topic even come up? how would it start: hey i am going to leave you XYZ. lol repeatedly their whole life? why? I can see how maybe when they wrote the will they said something...but repeatedly tell them their whole life...what for? I get upset to think of my parents dying, as I watch them getting older, why would they be bringing it up my whole life?"

In my case, I suspect it was a need on my Dad's part to periodically "set the record straight" because SM (for many years GF) brought up money issues incessantly. (Generally with the theme being "gimme, gimme".) I never once brought up these issues. My Dad got together with SM when I was 13 and inheritance (again, among many other money issues) was already being brought up then, long before I could even really comprehend the issue or had any reason to imagine my Dad would ever die (kids don't think about stuff like that). Another major talk occured when I was about 18 (surprise, surprise), then another one when I was about 20, then again when I was 24, then again when I was about 29, then several after he got sick when I was 30 up until he died when I was 32. His statements were always pretty much the same, with his wishes being to pretty much split everything he owned 60/40 (SM's favor). The only major change occured when *I* told *HIM* that I didn't think it would go well if he left the house for me and SM to split thusly, that it could cause any number of problems for both she and I. I told him he should just leave her the house outright. He then took it upon himself to arrange things so that his intended 40% to me was maintained by allocating other assets to me, but I had not asked him to do that. Overall, his wishes stayed the same for years, even though SM kept insisting she should have more. And even though she might have *expected* that she could make him change his mind.

One very crucial little encounter, especially in hindsight, really drives home the point to me why he kept feeling this need to "set the record straight". (Sorry in advance to those who've read this story before... and sorry, too, that it's a little long.) It was about 1996, I was about 20, and my SM and I had gone last-minute holiday shopping together. I had only so much cash on me, which I'd used up on presents for my Dad (and her, btw) and others. We were kind of far from home and really hungry, and discussed going to the McDonald's that was on the way home. But this decision became a full-on philosophical crisis for SM, as she agonized out loud: "Hmmmm... well what should we do? I mean, you don't have any money left to get anything." And I said: "I can pay you back when we get to the house, I'm really REALLY hungry..." and after some serious moral rumination she finally agreed that was do-able. In hindsight, I think she was so consumed by her one-track mind obsession that as an ADULT, I, stepchild, should not EXPECT ---literally--- a dollar for ANYTHING that it next precipitated the following exchange, once we were inside the McDonald's eating our Happy Meals:

SM: "You know, when Dad dies, everything's going to me. And then, when I die, if there's anything left, you'll get it at that point."
ME: [bewildered as to where in the heck this subject was suddenly coming from] "Why are we talking about my Dad dying? Is he sick or something?"

So over a decade later, when I finally had the nerve to tell my Dad about this little exchange (b/c he asked why I don't trust SM), and when he reacted with shock and said "I never told her that!", I believed him. Because in all those times he sat she & I down and told us what's what, that little plan of hers didn't enter the convo. I believe she was either 'testing' me out, trying to get some kind of rise out of me to start a family feud, or living a freakin' delusion in her brain. Which to me clearly illustrates why my Dad kept feeling the need to divest her of her persistently unfounded expectations. Which leads back to the orginal question. So to sum it up I think the reason my Dad regularly had these "sit-downs" with us all together about his will and what would happen is precisely because he wanted us both to hear the same thing out of his mouth at the same time in case either of us [she] tried to pull some deceptive little crap on the side. And he didn't want either of us having expectations that would be disappointed... especially her, apparently.

My point with all this is that the situation that some SP's may view as "typical" ---that is adult kids "demanding" an inheritance--- is just simply not always so. Sometimes it's adult spouses who "demand". That's the main difference with my story, and perhaps it's unusual. I'm sure there are plenty of bratty, spolied adult stepkids who not only DEMAND an inheritance but who mean-spiritedly believe their parents' spouses should get nothing. I can honestly tell you that even though my SM has been a royal arse to me for many years, I would never think she deserved to get NOTHING, or less than what my Dad promised her in my presence.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:25AM
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Please, my X has taken this to an extreme. He has said he will give my DD his very expensive house when she is 25. I doubt she will even be able to take care of it. I suspect he just wants to make certin his SO wont get her hands on it.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:31AM
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Serenity, hopefully nobody thinks anything is 'typical'. You had a greedy SM. My dad has greedy SK's that sued him BEFORE their mother actually died, because they expected to get, not only what was left of their mother's (which was really NOTHING) but half of what belonged to my father. Her oldest son didn't even attend her funeral, but he attended a family meeting at his sister's house the day my stepmom died... to discuss what???? It's pretty disgusting when they will make time to hold a pow wow the day their mom dies (and their dad was there too) but not attend any kind of services.

There are just greedy people in the world. Some happen to be step kids, some happen to be step children. Nothing is 'typical'.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:51AM
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"Some happen to be step kids, some happen to be step children"


    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 9:57AM
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yes, step parent and step children... sorry

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:01AM
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I think there is range of issues, yes greed can there be. Also lack of planning.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:07AM
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Agreed, all around.

Also I think there is a factor of acceptance of what you can't control, or facing the music that's playin', that's important. The common relationship advice applies: "Don't marry someone thinking you can change 'em."

Whether or not anyone agrees/disagress with the way my Dad chose to do things ---and there's probably many people would judge him harshly for not leaving SM everything, for example her whole family--- and even if you might be a person who thinks he was stubbornly wrong on the subject, the point is he wasn't going to change. Even with all the planning he did do, even with all the open communication about it that followed, if it isn't HEARD or it isn't ACCEPTED that it's his choice, then no matter how convinced she is of her rightness she was still going to be disappointed. It caused so much tension for so many years, and not just between she and I but between she and my Dad also... because she just couldn't accept what she was hearing and just couldn't believe she wouldn't be able to make him do things her way.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 10:43AM
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