Ask Amy: Spouses disagree on sharing inheritance

ask amy: spouses disagree on sharing inheritance

A frustrated wife and husband.

Dear Amy: My mother recently died, and I’m expecting a relatively substantial inheritance from her (my dad died several years ago).

My younger brother, also not living, has two adult children.

My mother (who was a difficult person) originally told me she intended to halve the inheritance between my brother and me when he was still alive, but after he died, she then decided to pass her entire inheritance to me, giving nothing to her grandchildren (who are my brother’s children).

These granddaughters were good to her.

My beloved brother always believed in fairness, and to me my mother’s favoritism is unacceptable.

I would like to take half of my inheritance and gradually gift it to my two nieces (my brother’s children), on an annual basis so the gifts will stay under the legal limit where taxes would be incurred.

The problem is that my control freak, anxiety-ridden husband of 40 years, who feels we need more money (most people could use more money), has told me what he intends to do with the inheritance.

He wants to keep and invest it all, and to give a tiny amount to my sweet nieces, who were written out of the will.

He sees this as a financial issue of our “need,” and feels it is generous to give anything to my nieces, but I view it as a marital issue and an issue of my wanting to do right by my dear brother, who would be brokenhearted to know about the situation.

Your thoughts?

— Loving Aunt

Dear Aunt: Before making any decisions, you should consult a financial planner with experience dealing with inheritance in your state. My understanding is that (depending on where you live) inheritance is special; unlike other income, earnings, or real estate, inheritance is not considered marital property, unless you comingle it by depositing the inheritance money into a joint account.

ask amy: spouses disagree on sharing inheritance

Amy Dickinson

So let’s assume that this is your money, and you have the right to spend it as you wish. If your husband inherits money, he will have the right to use it as he wishes.

Your plan is to take half of this money (what you see as your brother’s half) and to give a portion of it to his daughters each year. A financial advisor will also let you know if this is a sound plan.

This leaves half of this “substantial inheritance” for you to use as you want — or as your husband wants, if you choose to share it with him.

Dear Amy: I have been dating “John” for three years now.

We are both widow/widower for over a decade.

John wants me to live with him his home, but he still has wedding portraits and lots of pictures of him with his late wife displayed around the house that he doesn’t plan on putting away.

I would be happy even if he chose a bedroom to dedicate to all his memories.

We talked a lot about marriage, but constant talk of his “wife” makes me feel like we should just live separately.

I have a deceased partner. I refer to my late husband frequently, too, but when we’re around lots of friends, I refer to him by his first name, and not as “my husband.”

I have been through the same things as John regarding losing a spouse, but I just want to live the rest of my life happily and move on.

Do you think I’m asking too much? I just need your insight.

— Ready for a Fresh Start

Dear Ready: If “John” wants you to move in with him, then the house wouldn’t be only his house, but your house, together.

This means that he should compromise regarding the decor.

Doing this is a physical expression of literally “making space” for you.

You are approaching this in a spirit of compromise; he is not.

John doesn’t sound ready to make space for you. Given the length of time that has passed since his wife’s death, I don’t think you should expect him to change.

Dear Amy: I was disappointed in your response to “Agnostic,” whose friend had re-established her Christian faith and had invited Agnostic to her baptism.

The kind thing is to show up for your friends, no matter what.

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: Many readers agree with you.

“Agnostic” believed her friend was making attempts to pressure her back into the fold. She did not want to attend this religious ritual. I suggested that she should offer her congratulations, while being honest about her reasons for not attending.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2024 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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