Money Moral Dilemma: Should I give some of the money I got in my stepfather's will to my mother?

MSE_Kelvin Posts: 346 MSE Staff
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edited 23 May 2023 at 1:45PM in Deaths, funerals & probate
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

My stepfather's will named his children and stepchildren, including myself, as beneficiaries of his estate, bypassing my mother, who thought that each of their wills had been written so that their estates passed to the surviving spouse. Following my stepfather's passing, I'm now in line to receive a large sum of money - should I give some of it to my mother, given what she thought they'd agreed on?

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  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 8,066 Forumite
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    I would not do anything without talking to your mother, and discussing any proposals. 
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • Obird63
    Obird63 Posts: 10 Forumite
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    You imply there are multiple children; I would say that it's a matter for you all to discuss. It shouldn't just be on you to decide to give up a portion of your share if you have brothers and/sisters. Then again, maybe your stepdad had his reasons... There are so many layers here and so many questions to which we don't have answers. Could your mother not contest the will as his next of kin - especially if she does really need the money... 
  • k_k_k_katy
    k_k_k_katy Posts: 54 Forumite
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    If she was a dependent of your step-father's then I think your mother's rights will transcend the wishes expressed in the will. Did they own property together, or have a joint bank account?  If so, I think your father cannot gift them away, as half of everything will belong to your mother.
  • nigelroot
    I'm impressed by the replies so far. My views are that you might like to consider the following, in the order of what's most important to you first:-
    1. How much does your mother need the money? At one extreme you don't want her scrimping on meals and heating, at the other, she may not know what to do with it and it'll just add to the family's inheritance tax bills.
    2. Tax. Yours and your mothers, principally income tax and inheritance tax. You may need advice. It may be worth paying her monthly, and care home bills if needed rather than a lump sum.
    3. The moral questions: you'll probably live more easily if you're generous.
    4. The family: this sounds like difficult ground all round so do try and discuss it. Other people may not have the same views that you hold, but you can still make your own decisions.
    I hope it goes well.
  • Androids
    Androids Posts: 10 Forumite
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    This shows the value of having discussed a Will with all parties.
    I believe you should give some or all of the money to your Mum if she was anticipating your (selfish/ mean / irresponsible) stepfather was in a joint agreement with her that the survivor of the two gets the money.
    Talk to your Mum. I think she will be hurting.
    Legally you probably don’t have to give her anything but she is your Mum. Ultimately it’s up to you and your conscience.
  • keithyno.1
    keithyno.1 Posts: 98 Forumite
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    I think it's hard to comment specifically without knowing the exact terms of the will, also I'm no legal expert when it comes to inheritance, wills, probate and the rights of surviving spouses etc.

    But if you feel that the right thing to do, morally and for practical financial reasons, is to give your mother some of your proceeds from the will, then go ahead and do it. 

    The way I see it, it's neither morally right nor wrong - it purely comes down to YOUR personal decision. By all means let your siblings and step-siblings know what you intend to do, but you can't really expect them to follow your example and nor should you. It's completely up to them and no one else what they decide to do with their inheritance.
  • neilmorgan
    neilmorgan Posts: 63 Forumite
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    There isn't enough information in the question for anyone to give a good answer.

    It may have been that your stepfather was trying to ensure that all his and your mother's children inherited eventually. I've seen cases where one spouse (A) has died then when the second spouse (B) died the estate went to only their children not to A's children as you would reasonably hope to be the case. Once B inherits everything from A it's as if A never existed so B must have a will to ensure A's children are not excluded.

    If each spouse was financially independent and well off then it may be that each spouse leaving their half of the total estate to all the children and excluding their spouse was the most tax efficient way.   

    Without reading the actual will and knowing the financial circumstances of each spouse there is no "correct" answer.     
  • honestcove
    honestcove Posts: 78 Forumite
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    Generous of the stepfather to treat the step children as equal to his children.
    But what does your mum’s will say?

  • Ed264
    Ed264 Posts: 104 Forumite
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    No. It's your decision, but the Will was made this way for a reason, whatever that may be. 
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