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Inheritance: Why Does Money Usually Follow Blood

TatinGTatinG Posts: 2,862Registered User Senior Member
edited July 2010 in Parent Cafe
Within the last year a good friend of mine was widowed. She is 55 and her husband died of a heart attack at age 58. They have two children both in college.

A few months after the husband died, his mother passed away. Now the mother had cash and assets in the multi-millions (I'm not sure exactly how much, my friend didn't specify and I wasn't going to pry).

My friend was surprised to learn that the money her husband would have gotten if he had outlived his mother was going to pass directly to the two children and she got nothing. (This after 30 years of marriage). So her children will be well-fixed and she will have only her husband's life insurance and their small savings.

My parent's will is the same way. It says that if I predecease them, my share goes to my children. My husband's mothers will is written the same way. I think it's probably standard boilerplate will language. (Even though the child that died before his parent would likely want his spouse to be provided for with the inheritance he didn't live to collect.)

As an old woman in my family says "Money always follows the blood" meaning unless you share DNA you are cut out.

I don't know what I'll do when my children marry. But I think that if they have spouses that are good people, long marriages and getting older, I'd likely leave them a portion.

What do you think?
Post edited by TatinG on
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Replies to: Inheritance: Why Does Money Usually Follow Blood

  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Posts: 16,413Registered User Senior Member
    I guess I'd assume that the money that goes to the kids is really to be shared with their mom? Hmmmm. I don't know. But certainly that sentiment is strong in dh's family. Whenever his mom sends an e-mail about "family" business, she never includes any of the spouses of her kids.
  • JHSJHS Posts: 14,150Registered User Senior Member
    You're right on several scores.

    -- The pattern you describe is completely common (and the state law that would apply if someone dies without a will would do the same thing).

    -- People don't think about it that hard. I try to get my clients to think about the issue of wealthy children with an impoverished mother or father taking care of them.

    -- But even when they think about it, many people feel ambivalent about their children's spouses. (Lots of them feel ambivalent about their children, too. They rarely feel ambivalent about their grandchildren, though.) Remember, your child's widow can elope with the pool boy next week if she wants. No one wants to see the pool boy wind up with half their grandchildren's college money.
  • DocTDocT Posts: 6,883Registered User Senior Member
    In my father's irrevocable trust, we had to add the stipulation that things would also go to my wife and our adopted daughter and not just our biological son when I die.
  • IgloooIglooo Posts: 4,424Registered User Senior Member
    There's some benefit giving it directly to grandchildren. It is taxed only once that way. If the spouse has enough to live on without getting something from in-laws, I don't think it should be an issue.
  • garlandgarland Posts: 12,673Registered User Senior Member
    When my grandmother died, we were 20, 18 and 15. My father, her son, had died years before. so her very modest estate was divided between his two brothers, and my siblings and me, officially (bypassing my mom). Unofficially, of course, my mom used the money to replace our television (got our first color TV!) and the refrigerator. I don't even remember signing something, just knowing that "our" inheritance would be used by mom for household upkeep. which was fine with us.
  • TatinGTatinG Posts: 2,862Registered User Senior Member
    JHS:

    I agree with the 'running off with the pool boy' issue. (Although most 55 year old women can only fantasize about marrying a 25 year old hunk.) But if the husband had outlived his mother by only a few months, the widow would have had all the mother in law's money and THEN she could have run off with the pool boy. :)
  • memphismommemphismom Posts: 1,019Registered User Member
    after my f-i-l died, I found out that he had very specifically written me INTO his will- should my dh, who had had cancer, have predeceased his dad, the money from my f-i-l was to diveded three ways - my 2 kids and me. This was written BEFORE my m-i-l died, (she did predecease f-i-l) so I was surprised and confused, but so touched I cried. So apparently his attorney had suggested this as an option.

    That same small town attorney's son, upon learning from me that my f-i-l had does and that all his cash was in an account with MY name on it, suggested that I leave immediately for Rio. There was a long silence as I am sure he worried about whether he had overstepped his boundaries! I noted that it would take alot much than the cash on hand to make me Rio ready.
  • JHSJHS Posts: 14,150Registered User Senior Member
    Tatin, Not if mom had put the money in trust! There are lots of 55-year-olds out there with trusts their parents set up to keep their daughters/sons-in-law's grubby hands off the family dough.
  • rodneyrodney Posts: 9,406Registered User Senior Member
    There are definitely tax implications involved as someone has mentioned, but I think another reason one would possibly bypass the surviving spouse would be because they might imagine a situation where that said spouse could/would remarry which would create a difficult situation....

    Given that this happened only a few months after the husband/son passed, I would imagine that there was not really much consideration given to changing the will at this point (even if the MIL wanted the DIL to have some of the $$ directly).....

    Personally, as someone who actually experienced this exact situation, (I was the child, my dad passed and my grandmother followed him 4 months later), I would have preferred to directly have inherited whatever my grandmother had left; instead my mother used the $$ as she saw fit (and I was financially independent at 18 yrs old and had to support myself through college)...

    maybe that's what this particular person was trying to avoid for her grandchildren?
  • DougBetsyDougBetsy Posts: 5,828Registered User Senior Member
    In my family the bulk of the estate goes to the surviving children (or grandchildren as the OP describes). But, before that happens, the DILs and SILs get their "cut"...a flat dollar amount right off the top. We've had a lot laughs at holiday dinners musing about the ways this could turn out. ;)
  • jyber209jyber209 Posts: 653Registered User Member
    Many years ago a bachelor uncle of mine, who had significant financial assets, died. He had been my father's brother and my father had pre-deceased him. They had been part of a BIG Irish family of 11 kids.

    This bachelor uncle had been very involved in helping numerous family members, including the children of a sister of his who had been widowed at a young age with "Irish triplets" -- children ages 3, 2 and 1. He acted as a surrogate father for those nephews and sent each of them through private high schools and colleges. That is just one example of what he did.

    When he died, no will was found. It is hard to believe he did not have one, as he was a treasurer of a large international corporation and very responsible. In any event, the law of the state where he lived did provide that in such cases the money went with the blood. My mother, as the widow of my already deceased father, was allocated nothing, while my brothers and I received what would have been my father's share divided among us. I was a newlywed at the time.

    I always considered this money that should have gone to my mother, as that would have been my uncle's and my father's wish, so I put it aside in a separate account for her old age. (My mom was the "live for the moment" type, and had I given it to her at the time, she would have spent it all on travel.) My brothers gave her a portion of their share at the time of disbursement.

    Decades later, in her 70's, my mother was struggling financially and I was able to tell her that I had that stash of money set aside for her needs. It is still being used to supplement her retirement and care. (I still manage it for her.)

    One of my cousins purchased one of my uncle's homes (actually my grandparents' vacation home that my uncle had purchased from them at one point) from the estate and made it available to the entire extended family for their vacation or family reunion uses and promised not to sell it for a stipulated period of time (I think a decade).

    I think in general people tried to treat this money consistent with how my uncle would have wanted it used.

    So sometimes these matters can work out fine anyway. I hope the children in the case the OP mentioned do the "right thing."
  • memphismommemphismom Posts: 1,019Registered User Member
    and that is a very nice story ---big families that do work it out.
  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay Posts: 16,413Registered User Senior Member
    jyber, what a nice story. If only every family was so functional!
  • TatinGTatinG Posts: 2,862Registered User Senior Member
    Yes. I hope they do the right thing also. These are wonderful stories. But my friend is really in a bad place mentally now. She is grieving for her husband and now also grieving in a sense for the loss the her dreams for retirement and travels that are now financially in doubt. And she worries that her children will graduate college and not see a pressing need to get a job and just live off the inheritance.
  • jyber209jyber209 Posts: 653Registered User Member
    ^ Thanks, I do feel very good about having been a part of that family.

    That same uncle, when I graduated from college, had offered to send me to grad or professional school if I wished. I was eager to start a career so declined the offer. He asked what I wanted instead and I let him buy me a stereo for my first apartment. But that is the kind of guy he was. His family was the entire big extended family and he did what he could to encourage the next generation. He would visit regularly and ask to see recent report cards.

    I had over 50 first cousins on that side of the family so it was a lot for him to stay on top of!
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