Inheritance and Will. Is it fair for a husband to give his son (wife's stepson) a higher share of his assets?

Inheritance and Will. Is it fair for a husband to give his son (wife's stepson) a higher share of his assets?

I've been with my husband for 21 years and married for 5 of those. A few years ago we both wrote and agreed on our wills. My husband wants his son and I to get equal amounts. This is achieved by me sharing the son's inheritance tax bill. As wife I have no tax liability so because of this setup I'm effectively receiving less than his son. Because of the value of the estate the amount is significant.

The main asset is property which my husband had inherited from his family and had when we met. I didn't have children with him and through my job earned more income than him. We've therefore pretty much kept finances separate. My situation has now changed.. Current taking time off and I think then working part time so I'll be earning less. Whilst I'm not working Income from his property is paying day to day bills.

I'm interested to know what people think about the inheritance situation.

DianePrince's profile thumbnail
"Fair" only depends on what you believe and what you've agreed to and negotiated in your relationship. There's no right or wrong answer. You mentioned that you both wrote and agreed on your wills. Has your husband changed his will from what you agreed to?
@DianePrince thanks for your response. I'm curious about what other people believe to be "fair". I expect there will be varying opinions. Each person has the right to write a will as they wish. The will has not been changed from what my husband said he would do.
iynna's profile thumbnail
Thank you for posting! As a quick housekeeping note, I removed your duplicate post and tagged the community “Family&Relationships” here!As far as your question: I am not super versed on the matter, but I’d agree with Diane, I think the definition of “fair” would really depend on your individual situation. Another avenue might be to ask a lawyer?
@iynna thanks for removing the duplicate. I think the definition of fair is down to one's personal values. As I said to Diane I'm just curious what others think. There is no right or wrong answer.
I agree with DianePrince - what you discussed and agreed to is what's fair. Whether that was at the time you made the wills or when your situation changed recently. It will be different with different folks and relationships. I think it's pretty common for people to carve out family assets for their children from previous relationships. I can't speak to the tax side of it.
@lyla59 yes I definitely also believe assets should be carved out. I've given more background below.
I think you come across as petty, cheap, greedy and mean. You're misconstruing the issue because you don't want to admit you're greedy. The issue here is you:1) want to receive the same amount of money as his SON 2) Don't want to pay the tax bill from the estate. Please clarify, the tax bill would be the bill from the estate, right? and after the estate settles the debts, it would be shared. OH NO you don't want that. 3) Claim to be an 'independent woman' YET4) You want all the $$$ you can get I won't have kids but if I marry someone who does I will want the child to have as much money as possible through inheritance from the father. Why? BECAUSE I AM GOING TO DIE SOONER THAN THE CHILD WILL.You can't have it both ways. You can't claim to be 'independent' and yet complain if the actual child gets 1/2.
@sierra166 this is exactly why I posted this post, to see what response I would get.You've got me totally wrong. Definitely not greedy, but my version of fair is different. The will is written as the son gets his father's share of the property. My share stays with me and is not part of the estate. The remainder of the assets are used to cover the tax bill. The non property element is around 20% of total asset value.I didn't explain that the son is 8 years younger than me. He is 44, living in another country and receiving a stipend from both parents each month. They also pay for his 3 flights to visit them each year and expenses while he visits. The parents split when he was 2 so the parents feel guilty. Since I joined the family, I've had to spend Christmas with the ex wife and the son. It's got more tortuous for me as the years have gone on. Finally my husband has worked out that I can't do it anymore. The other point I haven't mentioned is that the son may return from that country and move into the house. If he doesn't move in my husband will pay towards his rent at another place. He has a low paying job in this country. He is an excellent photographer and has won some awards. He's on sites but doesn't seem to push at making a go of this. It would be too stressful for him. The son is dyslexic and the most selfish person I've ever met. He's given lots of clues to indicate this over the years. One statement in particular stood out "Why would I do something I don't like". I inferred this is because his parents are there to support him. Of course the parents are responsible for bringing him up to be so dependent on them. It's not healthy. For the past 20 years, all his holidays have been with his mother. I expect she pays a lot of the costs.I think he is a passive aggressive narcissist. Actions I've seen from him over the years have indicatedthis. You might argue that all this background data is irrelevant and shouldnt impact or upset me but it unfortunately does.I read a book over the weekend called "Too good to leave, Too bad to stay". It's a fantastic book and demonstrated that I have a good relationship but this is a big sticking point. On the back of the book my husband has agreed to relationship counselling. I think I'll end and I don't think I'll be getting anything. My husband won't want to let me go and not asking for anything will be my bargaining stick. I thankfully have a very small place I bought before I met my husband and savings. I can't go immediately because of an application that states I'm married. I don't know how my husband will react and could mess up this application which is important to my future. This situation is consuming me and impacting my ability to do things including job hunt. Replies from people here are helpful even if hurtful. They help me get closer to what I need to do. So my share of the non property element will be used to pay the son's tax. My share of the property is not part of the estate. The other assets I'd inherit are tax free. Wives have no inheritance tax liability
From what you've written, it sounds like you do not think your husband is a good parent and you are the quintessential "wicked stepmother."To be clear, I do agree that it's preposterous for a 44-year-old man to be supported by his parents, and both your husband and his ex-wife are parents with poor boundaries who never taught their child how to be independent. However, this must have been clear long before you married your husband. There are many people who have made parenting choices I disagree with. But the difference in our values would be so great that there is no way I could continue a romantic partnership with such a person, let alone marry them.It's quite disturbing to see your perspective — to me, what comes across in your post is that you do not enjoy being part of your husband's life, especially where it concerns his child. Rather than break up or get a divorce like a decent person would, you are waiting for him to die so that you can get his money, and you are scheming about ways to take money away from his child.The fact that the child is only 8 years younger than you and that you cite coming from a financially-disadvantaged childhood as a rationale for deserving his money doesn't really help your case. I certainly hope this isn't the case, but it makes you seem like a gold-digger who deliberately entrapped a much older man into a marriage to financially support you.Everyone else commenting is correct that inheritances don't have to be "fair." That said, you should bring up the topic with your husband directly, and if you really do having a loving relationship, he should be able to see your perspective. Especially if he asked you to give up your career, it could make sense for him to ensure that you are financially taken care of.If you have such strong feelings about his son, you should talk to your husband about cutting off the son's allowance while your husband is still alive.This post truly reads like an Agatha Christie novel, and dude is about to get murdered with a bunch of prime suspects.
@marcene83 thanks for your comment. I have told him on numerous occasions how I feel about him sending money to his son but that is one I can't change and I'm accepting it. He asked a female business contact and she thought it was a small amount and ok given what her husband is sending to his daughter (her step daughter). My husband and I get on really well but this aspect has always been a niggling point for me. Relationships are complicated and what works for one person doesn't work for another. We get on and up to now have been able to talk frankly about all subjects except this one.
Ultimately, it's his money and his choice. Inheritances don't have to be "fair" and often aren't. To be honest, it sounds like you're not hurting for money even if you're cutting back on how much work you're putting in now. I honestly don't see the issue. He's not cutting you out completely. He's choosing to give a bit more to his stepson. His assets; his rules.
@sang113 thank you. Again I agree it's his choice. I think this whole episode is triggering something from my childhood. I was the second of six and never got anything new. All my sister's stuff was handed down. Also, I never asked for anything as finances were tight. My mother mentally abused my brother and I and had 3 favourites. At the age of 10 to protect myself, I emotionally cut from my mother. So, I've never really had a mother daughter relationship. I've done various therapies over the years to let go of this but it seems to be still there. Writing here is really helping. I think if 51% of people come back saying my husband is being fair then I think it will be easy for me to change my view on this.
Did your husband set it up this way because he doesn't want your step-son to have to sell the property (which you said provides income) in order for him to pay the inheritance tax? If anything were to happen to me and/or if my husband and I got divorced, and my husband remarried, I would want my son to have a higher share of assets/inheritance than any new wife/stepmother, no matter how great she is. Particularly if these assets were themselves inherited (versus created). If I were in your situation, having been in a relationship with this person for 21 years, I can understand being a little annoyed or feeling that my husband values me less than he values his son - but it's a different type of relationship/bond. Otherwise, unless you are expecting your husband to pass away soon, I don't understand why your current situation (taking time off) has anything to do with his will.
@isa41 thanks for your reply. Thanks to this post I've spoken to my husband and we've resolved the misunderstanding around how the will was written. He thought it was written with a choice about how much if any of the tax bill I should pay. The whole scenario has been taking out of context because I haven't given all the background. The son has no interest in the property or running any business or taking on any projects that might entail stress or working long hours. Yes, my time off has nothing to do with the will. I'll be back working in a month n a part time basis as I'm now more involved in my husbands property and product business. I've contributed to these businesses since I met him, but will be more involved now that I'm going to work part-time.