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

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  • ashpan
    ashpan Posts: 336 Forumite
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    This has also happened to my friend, not exactly the same but similar. Her late partner Took out a life insurance policy before he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, after the diagnosis he added his friend as joint signatory to the policy.
    She lived in his house and helped to pay the mortgage. The joint understanding was, when he died, the life policy would pay off the mortgage and she could live there until she decided to sell. Instead, the life policy has been paid out to his children, she has been left with nothing, and will have to sell the house.
  • MPGchecker
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    There are a lot of unknowns in relation to your question, but hopefully your stepfather made his will with legal advice as a way of ensuring all children and stepchildren benefitted equally, to prevent his assets being swallowed up by future care costs, inheritance tax, or being left only to specific children in future. You don’t mention property, but if they jointly owned the house your mother now occupies he couldn’t gift it away and leave her homeless. You also don’t mention her age, and whether her pension(s) are completely adequate for her day to day needs. Is there a chance your mother misunderstood the underlying financial benefits of not inheriting her husband’s estate in full? It’s a relatively new concept of not passing everything automatically from one spouse to another. 
     If your mother’s pension covers her needs but not any extras - ie holidays - maybe you could speak to your siblings and see if they would all like to give her a regular amount for that purpose once a month / year ?
    I understand you feel a bit guilty, but I don’t think it shouldn’t be down to you alone to forego your inheritance, unless you really don’t need it and the others do. We have no knowledge of this, or the family composition of children and stepchildren who are involved, but I do hope you can all discuss it together, and everyone is happy with the eventual outcome. 
  • Sparky6_9
    Sparky6_9 Posts: 12 Forumite
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    As next of kin your mum can contest the will but be wary that this could cost a lot in legal fees. I find it strange that your mum did not know what was in the will. Was it changed without her knowledge? Is your mum financially secure? Are your stepfathers natural children amicable? Maybe your stepfather wanted to make sure that all the children got an equal share i.e that she did not inherit everything and then just pass it onto her own children or fritter it away. Or maybe he just wanted to split the money to avoid inheritance tax. So many questions. Best to discuss as a family.
  • Malthusian
    Malthusian Posts: 10,980 Forumite
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    ashpan said:
    This has also happened to my friend, not exactly the same but similar. Her late partner Took out a life insurance policy before he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, after the diagnosis he added his friend as joint signatory to the policy.
    She lived in his house and helped to pay the mortgage. The joint understanding was, when he died, the life policy would pay off the mortgage and she could live there until she decided to sell. Instead, the life policy has been paid out to his children, she has been left with nothing, and will have to sell the house.
    Has she taken legal advice?
    Even if she has no claim on the life insurance or his estate (which may not be the case), your post suggests she is at least entitled to some of the equity in the property after helping to pay the mortgage. (Doesn't matter whose name the property and the mortgage was in.) Even if the house has to be sold to repay the mortgage, it may be better than being left with nothing.
  • stac1990
    stac1990 Posts: 5 Forumite
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    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?

    Unfortunately the MSE team can't answer Money Moral Dilemma questions as contributions are emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. Remember that behind each dilemma there is a real person so, as the forum rules say, please keep it kind and keep it clean.

    B) If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.
    :/ Got a Money Moral Dilemma of your own? Suggest an MMD.
    I personally would, I would also speak with your other siblings and ask if they would also consider spilting some with her. 
    Just think of how you would feel if his direct children got some and your mum did but not you. 

    It could have been an oversight that he just assumed it would go to her and the rest be spilt equally between the children, it may have also been a mistake in the will and in that case, your mum could challenge you all and receive everything.

    I couldn't personally live with knowing one had nothing after paying into it all those years so would definitely offer up some of mine to her.
  • JayD
    JayD Posts: 703 Forumite
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    edited 24 May 2023 at 4:58PM
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    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?

    Unfortunately the MSE team can't answer Money Moral Dilemma questions as contributions are emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. Remember that behind each dilemma there is a real person so, as the forum rules say, please keep it kind and keep it clean.

    B) If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.
    :/ Got a Money Moral Dilemma of your own? Suggest an MMD.
    I think it entirely depends on what the specifics, if the assets/share of property go to you, but she gets to live in the house for the rest of her life then there is no point in gifting her the share, if it is cash assets does she actually need them and what would be the prospect that they end up being confiscated for care home fees etc. anyway? Does your mother actually need any money? Too many variables to give a proper answer. 

    I totally agree with MattMattMattUK - as is so often the case with these dilemmas, there are way too many unknown elements to give an informed response.
    However, I do have too comments to make:
    1) Your father made that choice, for whatever reasons he may have had, so why would you want to go against his wishes?
    2) If you are happy to go against your father's wishes, then you would need to investigate the consequences of sharing your inheritance with your mother, speak to and get her thoughts on the matter, and go with your conscience, based on that information.
  • Shazla2322
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    As others have said, there are many factors involved, however, one thing that springs to mind is that, if you gave a large sum of money to your mum, and your siblings for whatever reason didn't match it, what would happen to it in the unfortunate event that your mother was
  • Shazla2322
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    As others have said, there are many factors involved, however, one thing that springs to mind is that, if you gave a large sum of money to your mum, and your siblings for whatever reason didn't match it, what would happen to it in the unfortunate event that your mother was to pass away before she spent it. If her Will shares everything between all of the children, your siblings could end up benefitting from some of the money which was left to you.
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