Is It Right For My Wife to Keep Almost All Her Inheritance For Herself?

Dear Neil:  I am a 46-year-old married man with a 14-year-old wonderful son.  My wife and I have always shared everything.  But recently my wife inherited a large sum of both money and property.  We discussed our good fortune and decided we would set aside some money for our son’s college, invest in our retirement and possibly build our dream house.  Our lawyer recommended that we redo our wills, since our financial situation had changed so drastically.  But when we were at the lawyer’s office to sign our wills, I was shocked to see that my wife had changed her mind about what to do with her inheritance.  She put approximately 10% in our name, and the other 90% is in her name only—or is in joint name with her twin brother.

I was so shocked that she’d put her brother ahead of her son and husband that I didn’t pursue the issue at all.  However, this is really nagging at me.  Should I pursue this issue with her?

Hurt In Kentucky

Dear Hurt:  Legally your wife’s inheritance is hers and hers alone, and she is entitled to do whatever she pleases with it.  But legalities are not the only things that count in a marriage.

I’d recommend you pursue a conversation with your wife telling her of your hurt at how she is choosing to deal with her inheritance.  Ask her if she has trust issues with you, or whether she is thinking that your marriage may not last.  Ask her what she is now thinking about retirement funds and the dream house the two of you had talked about, and what is the implication for your son’s college education.

Sometimes twins have loyalties to each other that are so strong there is little room for other people.  You might ask her whom she sees her primary loyalty as being with.

Inheritances can change the power dynamics in a marriage, because the person with the newly acquired money may now feel entitled to additional power, control and unilateral decision making that heretofore didn’t exist or wasn’t an issue.  Address these issues with your wife.

Dear Neil:  I am 28 and have been married four years, but we’ve been separated since May, and in July we filed for divorce.  One time early on in our marriage, I was unfaithful to my wife.  After that incident, she didn’t want me to see my friends, and she always wanted me to be at home—which I was—but she still accused me of seeing other women.  Later on, she started to get violent, scratching me on my face and arms, until one day I got tired of it and I hit her.  This happened a couple of times.

I was incarcerated for one month.  When I got out, she told me she wanted a divorce with full custody of our son, and that she was moving to Las Vegas.  But she said she wanted us to live together after our divorce.  How are we supposed to stay together after our divorce?

Confused In Colorado

Dear Confused:  It sounds to me as if your wife wants a divorce and has no intention—regardless of her words—of being with you afterwards.  I think you’re being duped about her intentions, so you’ll go along with her now.

One comment on “Is It Right For My Wife to Keep Almost All Her Inheritance For Herself?

  1. Hi Neil,
    My husband and I have been married 9 years. We have struggled financially the entire time. He lost his steady job of 10 years 2 weeks after we got back from our honeymoon for doing something inappropriate on the internet. This unfortunately affected my job too but I suffered through for another 2 years before I found something better. He has since jumped from job to job, never holding anything down for more than 1 year. He also has contributed significantly less to our monthly budget than myself the entire time. I will say we live in a house in my name with a higher morgage than his. His home is rented out and he receives 400 in income each month. That being said, he just received an inheritance from his sibling of close 800,000 plus two homes which are completely paid off. He said to me in an insulting tone that he wondered if I wanted my share. I am so hurt. I am happy for him, but the money feels like the other woman. I am glad he won’t have to bounce from job to job and he will have stability and a nice retirement but I am also hurt that he is hoarding. Worst of all, we will now be living two completely different life styles. I will continue to work for a minimum of 10 years and most likely struggling while he will be buying things and free to do whatever he wants. I don’t see how this is going to work. It’s been hard for him to discuss and be transparent in this process. Advice? Thoughts?

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