A few months ago I wrote about someone I know who expected her partner to leave her the bulk of his estate instead of the majority of it going to his children and grandchildren. Lots of commentary on that one. Some people commented that as she “cared” for him, she “deserved” the money.

Assuming that a couple is older, and have been together less than ten years, and do not share any children, I ask the specific question:

Does living with someone qualify as a reason to be left a large portion of an estate? Is the assumption that one has somehow “earned” the money for services rendered? Of course I mean service in the most pedestrian of ways- cleaning the house, taking care of certain tasks, etc.

Is being left money a sort of payback?

Should you take care of things in a relationship just because that’s what people do, with no expectation of recompense? Or should one be shown the money?

Discuss:

80 thoughts on “Show Them the Money

    1. I agree with you. But when I write about this topic a few months ago, some people thought that if you were sharing a living space, and doing a certain amount of cooking/cleaning, you were owed something. Was wondering what people thought

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  1. That’s a conversation that you have straight up. No namby -pamby worry about upsetting anybody’s feelings. Its a conversation that must be upfront and honest so everyone knows where they stand. Anything that is mine goes to my children and I don’t expect or want anything of his. Sharing our time together now is good enough at this stage of our lives – it’s actually a bonus:)

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    1. Iknow someone now, who has lived with a partner for like 8 years, and she’s getting all pissy because he said he’s giving most of his money to his kids. Meanwhile, he’s spent a fortune on her on vacations and jewelry. And she says she wants to dump him cause he’s not leaving her the money. It’s disgusting to watch her antics

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  2. This sort of thing always Vexes me, it might be because I have nothing (I don’t know), I had an offering of money from my god mother’s family after she had gone, which I did not take. Inside It felt wrong my love for her was for her not what her family thought I was owed…… Don’t get me wrong I appreciated the gesture.

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    1. Totally understand your viewpoint. It’s not that money doesn’t matter, it’s more like you don’t do things and expect “compensation “

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  3. If she contributed to the household in any way, even if it wasn’t financially, I can appreciate her wanting to have some. It was her home she shared with him when they were a couple, acting as spouses even if not legally married.

    But ultimately the decision is up to the person writing the will.

    So if it was me, yes I would expect something, and would be disappointed if I got nothing, question my life with him and “our home together” and whether it was meaningful to him to share his life with me for x years.

    But I would not contest the ultimate decision. Money and stuff cause more grief than anything else in life. Not worth the headaches.

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    1. The difference is somewhere between some and most…if he says he’s leaving her 15%, with the rest divided amongst his kids, is she being unfair to want 80%? I asked how she would feel if he asked her for 80% of his estate instead of it going to her kids…

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      1. If I died, and my husband had a new partner and didn’t leave the lion share of money to my daughter, I would haunt him forever . So much so that there’s a contingency in the will that she gets the money no one else

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      2. Yes. Agreed.

        Do you think there would be a difference if the new partner was with him for 17 years instead of 2 years? The child should get a significant portion, the question is, how would the new partner feel after 17 years and he leaves her the BMW and nothing else ..

        I don’t know what the correct answer is.

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      3. Whatever the couple earned during that period should go to the remaining spouse. But prior funds, if not used by the remaining partner should go to the original kids.

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  4. The idea of being “owed” detracts from the care given out of love for the other person. If I ever feel something is owed me because of the things I did for someone else, that would be (in my opinion), a sure sign of doing it for the wrong reasons. But the other issue with the children is that parents should always leave at least some to them. If I ever remarried, there is no way I wouldn’t make sure my children receive an inheritance. Personally, they would get everything.

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  5. I assume people would be frank about a discussion like this, especially if they marry when one or both parties are older.

    For me, it would also depend on whether the widow/widower could pull her or his own income.

    Then again, I see children as the future and am bothered by rumors of Helmsley-esque behaviors regarding inheritance…

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    1. I always think like this. My husband and I built up a bank account due to hard working and prudent savings. Our expectation is that whatever is left will go to our daughter. I would hate to have saved and scrimped, for my husband to eventually take a partner who did not contribute, and then she gets the money and passes it to her kids. I think that’s wrong

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  6. I have issues with the way that the whole thing is phrased. It sounds like the assumption is that this was a fee for service relationship not a loving partnership of sharing life between two people. And does it revolve more around the concept of what is deserved more in a “marriage” with that legal document versus a “partnership” without the legal document? There are clearly differing views on expectations but I don’t think there can be a one size fits all answer.

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    1. I wrote a more broad post a few months ago about what the expectation is for people who get together later in life, post retirement. Some people thought that the partner deserves more because they were in the day to day. I don’t think anyone “deserves” anything, and I don’t like the thought of being in a relationship with expectation of money. I thought I’d toss the more specific idea around

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      1. I remember that post. I’m with you on the concept of deserving. While someone may be a worthy, even outstanding partner is there a rule that they are owed a reward for what they do…

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  7. If she’s only staying with him waiting for him to die and leave her money , he should ditch her . Or if she needs the money now, why doesn’t he just give it to her if they have a “relationship”?

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      1. I agree with your assessment. I know of THREE different situations, relatives, in which a second wife married the guy when he was wealthy then took all of the inheritance that the guy’s adult would have gotten. In one case, she was suspected of having slowly killed the man to get his money. His son sued and successfully won back part of the estate. In this case, the man was close to his dad and he was sure that he would not have cut him out of the will like that. In another situation, the second wife cut his children out of their lives as soon as she got the ring on her finger. Then when his health declined, she would not tell the children WHERE HE WAS! He died in a nursing home, without them getting to see him for the last few years of his life and there was nothing they could do. She controlled everything about his life, especially his money. Evil!

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  8. There are so many factors to all of this. A lot depends on the relationship with the spouse, kids, grandkids, etc. Did the live in give up a portion of their life, ie their career, or earning potential, for their new partner? Have the kids been financially supported throughout their life, such as their doctorate being paid for, downpayments for their house, bailed out financially many times, etc. Have both combined their finances which benefited all parties? I don’t think living together means you deserve a payback if you are doing so as a caregiver or want to financially benefit. I believe when two people are together who have found their soulmate and love each other deeply the money situation and who gets what is a mutual decision by both parties who want to be fair to each other and to all parties involved.

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  9. I think that as the person who is writing their own will, they can leave their estate to whomever they want – blood family or not. It’s all about the relationship one has with the ‘deceased’ and not that it is owed one way or another. To be given part or all of an estate is the choice of the will writer. Just because you have a second wife or children from another marriage doesn’t entitle you. It’s a choice that is made by you, the person who has the money and how you feel. Dictating that it goes wherever isn’t anyone else’s choice but that person’s.

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  10. I hear people judging upcoming generations as feeling they are “entitled” to this, that, and the other thing. I don’t think it’s youth that are alone in feelings of entitlement. We are such spoiled societies. Relationships based on what you can get from the other person, rather than what you can give or share make me edgy.

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  11. This is such a perplexing and complicated issue. Money makes people crazy. I say money earned in tandem, while the couple lived together, goes at least partially to the surviving spouse. Estate money, earned or saved prior to the new relationship stays with the children of the original family. But new children can be another issue to consider along with the original spouse who put you through law school. I don’t have the answers but I know when my parents passed away my sister and I made a vow to each other that nothing material or monetary would ever come between us. Hugs, C

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    1. I, doing the lion share of helping my parents, only because I live closer. I completely expect my parents to leave my sister and I the exact same amount of money. I don’t think I deserve more cause I do more. My parents love us equally…split it equally

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  12. I would say no expectations unless you got it in writing before the wedding. Love is the thing, not money in my opinion in a true relationship. My hubby’s mom came into a lot of money when her husband died and she had no idea it was even there! He will inherit when she passes (split equally between his brother) but if he should pass before her, the trust says that our kids will get the money not me. I have no problem with that. I know that my kids would not let me starve or go homeless.

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  13. Lots of interesting thoughts here. I break it down for myself as:
    1. If this is a later in life relationship, you should discuss eventual arrangements before you unite your households.
    2. What is built up by two people jointly (not necessarily both working outside the home) should mainly go to the children of that union, but..
    3. If you love someone, you would not want them to live in poverty after you die, so they should be left a reasonable amount to sustain a middle class lifestyle with something apportioned for longterm healthcare.
    4. All of this is based on your original premise that the couple has money to argue over.

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    1. I don’t want anyone in poverty either…but if say, two people move in together, is it because one of them “needs” the money to live, and if so…is it a relationship of love or money? If the person never moves in, how are they supporting themselves? There’s so many ways to look at this

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  14. I think it’s up to the couple who marries later in life what they want to do with their money. I see all sorts of issues with money and death because my husband is a financial advisor. Grown children get really upset when their parent leaves money to a “new” spouse. In reality, nobody is entitled, not even the children.

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    1. No one is entitled…and I hate when people think they are. The situation I wrote about a few months ago has gotten so much worse…the women is “threatening” to leave because he said he’s leaving most of the money to his kids

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  15. I must have missed your earlier post related to this, but I have Some thoughts regarding this blog…

    Any man or woman who dates or gets involved with anyone who has children, ( small or grown) is very naive if they think his or her children aren’t entitled to inherit his/her money. After I divorced my first husband and eventually met and began dating my second husband, I made it very clear that my son would always come first, that I was the main disciplinarian, and any of my income saved in the advent of my passing would go directly to my son. ( As a teacher I’d seen way too many step parents beat or punish their step children too severely and was not going to ever let that happen to my child.) So I made it very clear that my son was number one. If a man couldn’t accept that then I moved on.

    I chose not to remarry after my second husband died of cancer because it’s way too complicated as you get older. My husband was only 55 when he died. I decided at that time to write a will. Any funds I have left after passing are to be split equally between my sons. If anything were to happen to one of my sons, then the remaining funds are to be split between the surviving son and the other son’s offspring, held in trust until they are 18. It may sound crazy but I didn’t even want my remaining funds to go to daughters in law. I was divorced so I can’t assume both my sons will stay married forever. So either or their children benefit, but nobody else. I wanted it very clear that my heirs are the only ones to inherit.

    Now, if I were to purchase a home with a new partner, than of course that dwelling would legally go to the surviving mate. But legally any inheritance money is not split even in a divorce. So why should it be split in a death? Anything the married couple bring into their marriage they leave with intact. And inheritances are Only given to legally designated people. Those are never divided up in a divorce or death. But anything acquired before the marriage is not considered the surviving spouses. If someone dies and was married ten or more years they are legally entitled to that spouses social security benefits.. There are a host of legalities in this death stuff. I only know because I went through a divorce, had one husband die, and unfortunately I learned a lot.

    However, if I were to remarry at this stage of my life, other than sharing a home together, I would NEVER want to take away money from my partner’s children. That, in my opinion, is wrong and selfish on so many levels.

    But, the Best scenario is to see a lawyer if you have kids and want to remarry. An attorney will advise you on how to set up a trust to make sure your children are protected.

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      1. Thanks. As moms we need to protect our babies even when we aren’t around any more. I’m not sure men think the same way as women. I once asked my first husband what happens if he dies. He said everything goes to his current wife. I asked what about our son? He said that if both he and his wife die everything is split between my son and his new wife’s son. So since he’s older than his second wife I have to assume that my oldest won’t see a dime from his father. And that ticks me off. But, at least I convinced him to pay for a year of college for each of our grandchildren . I explained how I set up a Florida pre paid College account and pay monthly for both kids. So he set an account for both children too . And I made sure to tell him to put our son as the beneficiary in case he died. ( who knows if his new wife would give the money to the grandchildren.). So at least between the two of us we’ve got two of the four years covered on our grandkids. Honestly, sometimes I don’t think men use their brains! 😵‍💫

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  16. This is another situation where people look at it through their own life lens. Everyone – without exception – holds beliefs around money, and what is right and what is wrong. But the only thing which is relevant is whether conversations on the subject were had between the two parties, and what was agreed. If money and financial security matters, then speak about it up front, or be prepared to live with the consequences of not having done so. It’s a terribly unromantic subject, and a surprising number of people avoid it until after making a commitment to another person – even if the commitment is only one of time. But let’s face it, at our time of life, any waste of time is serious.

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  17. Why do people think they are owed things? I just don’t understand. If she worked and that was their money together. Fine. I tell my mom to spend her money and to have fun. Don’t save it to give to me after you die. It’s not my money. It’s hers and my dad’s

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  18. That is a good question especially with regards to step children, nephews, my family-who will I leave our home to assuming I pass after my husband? He tells me, “That is up to you. No expectations.”

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  19. Okay I’m back to discuss – I don’t think it should be the bulk and honestly no one should expect to receive anything – that only gets you in trouble. However…if it’s a solid relationship, then the person departing this world may want to consider the aftermath and figure out a way to show respect to his/her partner. Leaving it all to other family members and excluding the partner, well that could also raise a lot of heck. I have no experience in this specific situation though.

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