Second Partners and Inheritance Monies

In today’s post I would like to share some real-life stories about the role of a partner or second spouse concerning inheritance monies.It has been interesting to see very different scenarios playing out concerning inheritance monies.

The stories I have witnessed pose many questions: Why “should” there be inheritance? Who “should” inherit? What is the parents’ philosophy about their assets? What criteria, if any, do they use in deciding who inherits? You probably have your own questions! So let me start by sharing some real cases.


Real Life Stories

Case 1: Sue and Thomas were both happily married before. After the death of their spouses they met some years later and have been together for close on 15 years now. Sue and Thomas are not married and both live in their own houses. They have had open discussions about what would happen when either of them dies. Both of them agreed that they would leave each other a nominal amount. The remainder of their estates would go to their respective children. After all these years they still feel the same.

In fact a second couple, have a similar scenario except that they do live together. Neither of them have any expectations of each other with regard to their inheritance. Both will be leaving their assets to their own children.

Case 2: Cindy and Bill have been married for 7 years. It is her third marriage (both her previous husbands passed away). Bill was previously married but his wife also died some years ago. Bill has 3 children from his first marriage and Cindy has one daughter.

Cindy inherited everything from her first two husbands even though her second husband had 2 children. The latter received nothing from their deceased father despite the fact that they had a wonderful relationship with him. Cindy has been using that money to treat her own daughter to big ticket items such as a new car, a flat, etc.

Apparently Cindy is a very “sweet” person. She has built up a sizable estate from her previous 2 marriages. The questions we can ask:

  • Will she be the sole beneficiary in her third husband’s will?
  • Was she justified in just keeping quiet and accepting her second husband’s inheritance even though his children received nothing?
  • “Should” his children have received something?

Case 3: Natasha has no siblings. Her father is in a relationship with a partner, Nikita, who has no assets of her own. Natasha is terrified that Nikita will inherit everything from her father. As a result there is constant tension between the two women. Upon further questioning it became very clear as to why Natasha is so concerned.

Her grandfather became ill in his old age. He was a widower at the time.  Finding someone to take care of him became a priority. Somehow the grandfather reconnected with a woman from his past: Rita. The children disliked her intensely and were really unhappy as they did not trust her. Despite their concerns, the grandfather married Rita. Upon his death he left his property to Rita! Only when Rita dies will the property revert back to his children.

So the questions we can ask are:

  • Did Rita only marry him because she knew he was ill and would die soon?
  • Did she pressurise him to leave the property to her?
  • In what state of mind was he when he changed his will?

So it is no wonder that Natasha is concerned about what will happen when her father passes on.


Some thoughts on inheritance monies

There are some official guidelines with regard to inheritance. But clearly there is a great deal of room for each individual to decide how they chose to handle their estate. I certainly do not have the answers. What I do know is that the expectations around inheritance and what happens in real life causes so much hurt, anxiety and distrust. Contact me if you find yourself in somewhat of a dilemma about how to handle your assets.

And I wonder: Could we just be happy with intangible things we have inherited and just not expect anything else? Could we just be really grateful if we are fortunate enough to have inherited something material too? Would it not be wiser to realise that each of us is tasked to build our lives from scratch with what we have and who we are?

What do you think?

Posted in Family, Money.