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Financial Security Responsibilities

dbacks233's picture

I have 5 children of mine and 4 step children. All 5 of mine are now adults although typically one of them at a time may move back in to our house to get "back on their feet" from time to time. My current and 2nd wife of 4 years has 4 children. Two of those are teenagers and living with us. My wife always has an excuse not to get a job. She hasn't worked in several years (before we married). She is always citing it is because she needs to be there for her teens. Well I wish I could have been at home for my kids as they grew up too but these pesky household expenses kept getting in the way of that plan. We discussed it before getting married and she agreed she'd have a job within a year. That was 3 years ago. There's always an excuse. I have a good paying job and bust my butt to support the household. She gets a little child support from her ex but that's it. So I support her and her kids by paying 90% of the bills (estimated but pretty accurate). My wife doesn't cook or clean much at all. She is VERY controlling. She complains about whichever of my kids is living with us at the time which I admit I get very defensive about. I have a small retirement account (less than 100k) that I personally have been building over the years. I spent a lot of time raising kids (including 3 adopted kiddos) so the money didn't seem to make it's way to the retirement account over the years when I wasn't making nearly what I am making now. About 2 years ago, my mother passed away and left me with everything as I am an only child and dad had passed away many years ago. I received her house along with the equity and her retirement plans which were sizeable compared to what I had achieved of my own doing. When my mom died, my wife and I met with a financial advisor (the same one my mom used) and he helped get everything into my name. Evidently, law states that my wife has to be the beneficiary of the retirement plans unless she signs a document acknowledging she is willing to allow me to name someone else as the beneficiary. I discussed this with her and she was beside herself upset and refused to sign the forms. She feels she should be the sole beneficiary of everything we own. I then sold my mom's house and put the equity in my moms old checking account where I am the only one who can access it as of now. She is obviously not happy about this. I originally planned on rolling that money into our house that my wife and I both own but now am hesitant because we have been fighting so much.. .not sure where the marriage is headed. The problem I have is this money from the equity of my moms house and the money in the retirement accounts represents everything my mom worked for for the past 50 years to accumulate for HER family. My wife and my wife's kids are not part of that equation in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I will absolutely take care of my step kids while they live under my roof but in my mind, their mom and bio dad are the ones that have the responsibilty of setting up their kids for the future. The same is true with a sizeable life insurance plan I have. I have had it for 15 years and all 5 of my kids are listed as beneficiaries. My wife was upset that I refused to put her kids on the policy as beneficiarie's. (I did go out and get a separate smaller policy and list her kids as beneficiaries)   Am I wrong for how I am thinking? 


NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

I agree with you completely and would take all steps to protect my mothers life savings from your wife and her children. It's not an equal partnership. You are the only taking any risk and she doesn't seem like she holds up to her end of a bargain 

ndc's picture

You're not wrong at all.  I would consult with a lawyer (not a financial advisor) ASAP to make sure you have everything titled and set up so that your money is available for you and goes to your children (or however you want it) rather than your wife and stepchildren.  Do not put the money into a house you both own or otherwise commingle the funds.  Do not spend any of it on your wife.

She needs to get a job.  You're enabling her to NOT get a job by paying for everything.  Perhaps if you stop she'll have to stop being lazy and start working.  There is no way I would want to support a non-working spouse who won't even cook and clean.  It's one thing to run the household, cook, clean and care for small children (that's MY job); it's another to just freeload.

SteppedOut's picture

Even if things are titled properly, she still wont sign off on retirement accounts. 

He needs to see a lawyer, to divorce her gold digging ass. 

dbacks233's picture

I did contact an attorney a month ago to get an idea of where I would stand "if" I moved forward with divorce. I was told I'd be in a pretty good spot as long as I keep the funds separated for the retirement accounts (which she does not have any claim to unless I pass because she is listed as beneficiary) and the equity from the home. The biggest thing I'd be on the hook for is possibly a year and a half of alimony (pluse half the current house equity of course, which is not much since we just bought it a few months ago) and that would be a small amount each month..... now that's if the judge agreed with my attorney of course. Overall, I'm in a good legal position for the assets I'm trying to protect.  

Thumper's picture

You are not morally or legally required to take financial CARE of step kids. Sure you feed them, have a roof over the heads etc. You are also not morally or legally required to have a life insurance policy for another man OR womans child. That is the duty AND obligation of bio mom and bio dad.  Let that sink in.

A marriage of 4 years, it unlikely to produce a divorce settlement of SHE wins the golden ticket. What was her divorce settlement with her ex?

Child support from ex?

You have a big mess here. Cut your looses before you are expected to pay for college too.

Sometimes it's ok to say you made a mistake...better now than later.

Focus on your bio kids, ok?





futurobrillante99's picture

Do not commingle any thing that you inherited from your mother in an account that you share with your wife. If you keep it separate she can't touch it

futurobrillante99's picture

Dude, my 2nd husband was totally using me. He had as much as you have in retirement, but he liked to dip into it from time to time. We both earned the same amount. I have 3 kids, he has 4. My two older kids are independent and my youngest is disabled. HIs 4 sons are not disabled, but floundering - drinking too much, not going to school, working crap jobs, smoking pot. Once I realized he was using me, I left him and we divorced.

He's now found an older spinster without children who has a great job. I'm sure the dollar signs popped up in his eyes. My nickname for her is "the retirement account."

The problem is that he's abusive in every way but physically (to me). I think he's 2 years in with this woman and I see signs he's messing things up with her.

I had to keep my assets completely separate from my XH2's and when we married, I refused to sell the house I raised my kids in until he signed a post nuptial waiving all rights to my retirement, alimony/spousal support and the proceeds from the sale of my house that I owned for 23 years before I met him.

NEVER co-mingle assets. My first husband, the father of my kids, inherited $ from his grandfather. We had 3 kids and had been married about 11 years when he used that money to buy me a new mini van and make improvements to our home. Once he put the money into the house, it became 1/2 mine. Thankfully, he kept the inheritance from his grandmother invested and I (rightfully) had no claim to it. I didn't want any of it anyway.

dbacks233's picture

"Retirement Account".. now that is sadly funny. I think that's what I am to my wife as well. I mentioned to her a few weeks ago what her plan is when I retire as I am 9 years older than her. Told her I wonder if she is planning on working or not while I am retired. Her look on her face was priceless... and told me a lot

Chmmy's picture

I have concerns about where my parents' inheritance will go. I have 2 grown children with good jobs and independent. My husband has 4 idiots, 2 college age and 2 middle school. My parents adore my husband but not his kids and agree that we need to do something so that my parents' estate trickles down to my children and not his. I don't think I could spend what my parents have in a lifetime but if my skids got ahold of it, it would disappear quickly. Their mom(BM) spent a $100,000 settlement in 2 years and is broke again even though her and her husband make well over $100,000 a year if not 150K between the 2 of them. The skids are all like BM.

We talked about putting the money in a trust for my kids so that if I passed away before my husband it would still go to my kids. If something happened to me first, my kids would get zero and his kids would get it all. My dad would roll over in his grave because he spent years scrimping and saving and making good investments as well as working as much overtime as possible and working 2-3 jobs at a time. He certainly did not do that for kids like my skids. He taught my kids how to save, invest and work hard. BM taught her kids how to steal, manipulate money out of people, and lie. My parents still have a lot of years left unless something happens to both of them  unexpectantly and most likely I will be long divorced from him and I'll never marry again.

Chmmy's picture

To add, I would be upset if my husband treated me like that...kinda hiding money and wanting me to sign off to someone else as a beneficiary. I've never done anything to deserve that though. I'm sure you are doing what you think is right to protect your kids and your mom's assets. Maybe it's because I'm in the same boat as you, I feel your mom's assets should go to your kids, not hers unless you choose to give it to them.

notarelative's picture

401k's are great, but by federal law the beneficiary is your current spouse unless they sign off. When my first husband died, I inherited his (small) 401k. When I remarried DH2 signed off. If I live long enough and spend it fine. But, if I die before DH2, it goes to my kids. It was their dad's. It should be theirs. 

Your predicament is why I ama fan of a prenuptial for a second marriage. You iron out all the thorny inheritance issues before the marriage. And if you can't iron them out, you should call off the marriage.

You need to see a lawyer. You need to understand how the law in your state considers inherited money. You need to be sure that you title accounts correctly. 

dbacks233's picture

I think what's in my mind is that if she had been contributing to the family unit where it also benefited me and my children all along instead of just her and her children, I would feel much more comfortable to blend the money into our "family". Because she doesn't contribute much is why I think I'm so hesitant to take the equity and roll it into our shared house. I'm not at all an agressive person until I feel backed into a corner. I bite my lip every day to the point it feels like it is bleeding non-stop. If we only had arguments once in a great while, I would feel more comfort... but the arguments are too frequent. I feel like I'm always walking on egg shells. She says she feels the same way when I say that of course. Whenever I give my opinion of how something is effecting me or my kids she always turns things around and says I just have to play the victim. Wtf is that? Where I was trying to have an adult conversation to discuss why something doesn't sit well with me, it gets turned around every time into a negative... but of course she then claims I never communicate. Well duh, it's because I get shut down if I give my opinion.  Grrrrr   I hate hiding money but  I think I am just protecting my mom's assets because of the uncertain feeling I have in our relationship. I don't want to lose what my mom worked so hard for. 

Tried out's picture

My 401K is primarily my divorce settlement with 20 years of interest. It was always my intent that it go directly to my kids, bypassing my now husband. He was aware of this from the get-go. My kids are the sole beneficiaries.

What I discovered recently is that accounts with beneficiaries override a will and don't have to even be mentioned in a will. It's a relief to me because I can be sure my SKs will not ever get their hands on it, even if they should try and contest the will.

futurobrillante99's picture

That's not how inheritance works where I'm at. If you accept an inheritance and keep it in a SEPARATE (not joint) account, your spouse can NEVER lay claim to it. Have it set up that your children are beneficiaries. Or, if they really do have enough for you to never spend, have them split it between you and your three kids, but NEVER put it in a joint account or buy a joint property with your spouse using those funds. Once you do, that amount is 1/2 his.

Laws may be different where you are, though.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I'm taking a page out of someone else's book and am telling you to RUN.


This woman is a money pit, and anything you acquire will get fed into her bottomless pit. You're getting close to retirement age with not nearly enough money to retire on and no way to accumulate more retirement because you can't get ahead since your wife isn't pulling her weight.

No, no, NO.

She is a GD adult! She can work! She SHOULD work. She NEEDS to work. You are NOT a sugar daddy, but she has hitched her wagon to you and is expecting you to drag her into her golden years with ease.

Marriages cannot survive on love alone. The point of joining into a legally binding contract with another person is so your mutual assets you accrue together remain together. She isn't contributing, so WHY stay married?! If she were just your GF, you'd get all the perks of a relationship without her baggage.

Meet with that advisir again, figure out how to protect your money, and then meet with an attorney and get divorced before you end up owing her half of everything and possibly a lifetime of alimony. This woman is a sinking ship, so jump before you get dragged down and spent your golden years busting your arse working overtime just to keep a roof over your head and food on your table.

She IS NOT worth it.

dbacks233's picture

This really made me think  "This woman is a sinking ship, so jump before you get dragged down and spent your golden years busting your arse working overtime just to keep a roof over your head and food on your table."   Thanks 

CLove's picture

Get thee to a lawyer! Find out all the nitty grittys of your situation. If you are in California its all about community property, but inheritance is NOT considered a marital asset. Retirement accounts ARE considered a marital asset. I have spoken to DH about a post nup because I want to keep my retirement account in case things dont work out.

SO, about your situation, which you have laid out pretty clearly and concisely (read your post a few times over, I find that it helps me gain clarity...):

If you stay

- she needs to get a job so that you are not paying for everything. That way you can pay more into a savings account/retirement account.

- You need to take the skiddos off your life insurance policy. You say that it is small. Put YOUR bios on it. Shes already getting a lot if you pass on.

- do not consider the inheritance a marital asset, unless you pass.

- get your will in order. She will get everything, so a will helps give your kids your inheritance money.

If you decide that you do NOT want to deal with the financial issues that you are having to deal with, and have realised that your wife has that special snowflake syndrome I call LAS (Lazy A$$ Syndrom) and also do not want to deal with lazy skids and all that comes with it...then

- get a lawyer stat.

- Do it today

- alimony can last forever if you dont get it done today.


Winterglow's picture

OP, can you explain to me exacty why she thinks a couple of teens need their mommy at home for them?  And she doesn't even take care of the house nor feed those living in it? Dude, this woman has a sweet deal going on. Extricate yourself from it ASAP. 

Merry's picture

My DH has a good pension that he worked hard for, but exactly zero in retirement (or any) savings. I, however, have a nice amount saved, including inheritance from my parents. My DH will never have unfettered access to that, much less his kids.

Now, I love my DH. We have a good life. II have no problem using my assets to support our life, should it become necessary. Once I retire I am planning to live on our retirement income and not touch the corpus of my savings and investments.

But I also don't feel particularly compelled to leave a large amount to my own kids. I intend to enjoy myself.

I can't for the life of me imagine feeling like an unrelated adult needs to take care of my kids. That's greedy, and ridiculous. Do not let your wife bully you into doing what you don't want to do. If she goes ballistic, that's her problem, not yours. I'm sorry she's looking for Easy Street.

ESMOD's picture

It sounds like you have gotten decent legal advice regarding keeping those assets you inherited very separate from your joint finances.  Do nothing to muddy that line.  Do not put a cent of your mother's money into any joint asset.

I would be upset about her bait and switch with the job.  I don't know if you feel wholly decieved by this.. I don't know what the balance of your relationship is like.

I do think that she has put a fairly high price on what you are paying for "companionship" at this point.  

Maybe your relationship has run it's course and cutting your losses now with the limited amount you may be on the hook for in alimony and equty would be a good deal.  It will only get to be a higher price the longer you wait.

But, if you are inclined to want to save your marriage.. you could pursue counseling but I just don't see her coming around to contribute fairly in your household finances... so if you stay, you may have to accept her dependent status.

dbacks233's picture

I think those are all fair comments. Yes, I do feel deceived regarding the job commitment. Like I said, there is always a "reason" she can't work right now.   This is a great line that I need to let sink in   "I do think that she has put a fairly high price on what you are paying for "companionship" at this point". Your comment reminded me of what I was once told. It went something like this ....."The art of negotiation is when it is done, you decide if you can live with what is being presented. If the answer is yes, stay the course. If the answer is no, then end it and move on".  I really need to think this through I guess.   Thanks for your insight. 

This.Is.The.Remix's picture

This is why I'll never get married again. I live debt free and have a chunk from inheritance invested for my retirement. I didn't work hard to have to support some other person who made bad financial choices. 

The freeloading wife needs to go. 

dbacks233's picture

My kids have all told me they get to pick my next companion since I have screwed it up twice now. I do think I agree with you though that I will never marry again. I have worked hard all my life to have it taken from me by having to support someone else. It feels kind of selfish but I feel better knowing that I'm being selfish for my kids.

lieutenant_dad's picture


It's not selfish to want to spend YOUR OWN MONEY that YOU EARNED YOURSELF on you and your kids!

What IS selfish is expecting your nearly-retirement-age husband to work himself to the bone to support you and your kids that AREN'T his because you want to sit on your arse eating bon-bons all day.

Now, I would think differently if there were any equal contribution from your wife. However, SHE ISN'T CONTRIBUTING. She hasn't EARNED your money. She didn't stay home and raise mutual kids, giving up part of her career to do so. She isn't helping you run a business that you both benefit from. Hell, she's not even maintaining the house so you can rest easy!

What is this woman giving you that warrants her the title of "wife"? Is it attention? Sex? Those things are readily available, either for a fee or "free" by dating someone who is your equal. Do you feel like you need to save someone? Tons of good charities exist that will put your time and talents to use. Don't want to be alone? Retirement communities, hobbies, clubs - those all exist.

There isn't something this woman can give you that you can't get elsewhere, but her price is FAR steeper than any of these others. And the longer you stay, the more expensive is becomes to leave. Even if you do divorce, she benefits. Right now, it's mitigating how much damage that benefit will cost you.

dbacks233's picture

Fair enough points. Thank you

dbacks233's picture

I have to say I am overwhelmed by the comments I've received since puttng my orginal post up yesterday afternoon. I stumbled upon this forum yesterday not really looking for a forum. Decided to post and then wondered if anyone would even care to respond. I came in to work this morning and logged in and was shocked at the number of responses and with them being so one sided. To everyone who has taken the time to care about my situation and me directly, I thank you. I have felt alone. I have felt uncertain. I have questioned if it is just me that is causing my frustration or if it's warranted. It's good to hear I have support. Thank you all

Chmmy's picture

 A lot of us are in the same boat as you...although we are mostly women. I see many here with irresponsible husbands. We do what we have to do to protect ourselves and our children, altough I feel the partnership should always come first, if someone is not a partner how do you put the partnership first.

Gimlet's picture

Just for the record, it's rare for a comment thread to be one sided around here so that should tell you that your case is pretty compelling.

I agree with the others as well.  It's time for the gravy train to pull into the station.

Picardy III's picture

From another perspective... I'd be pretty hurt and questioning my marriage, if my husband wanted his inheritance to bypass me simply because I was not "family," being the second wife and not the mother to his kids.

But it sounds like you want her bypassed because she's a freeloader and the marriage may be doomed, not because you think assets shouldn't commingle in a second marriage. And that makes sense.

dbacks233's picture

Yes you are correct. I'd have no problem with it if I felt she was equally contributing to our relationship. In full disclosure, I would still feel pretty strong that my children should get some of the retirement plans as beneficiaries and I was never entertaining any notion of them not getting my life insurance that I've been paying on for 15 years. I once suggested 50% of the retirement plans be split between my children and the other 50% goes to my wife, and then she can share with her kids if that's what she wishes to do. That was shot down too. My original intention for the equity from the house was indeed to roll it over into our joint house but the more I thought about it combined with the escalation of how much we were arguing all the time made me stop moving that direction. 

SteppedOut's picture

Seriously? You are trying to be more than fair. She is nothing but a gold digger. Uugh. I am angry for you. 

I was taken by a male version of your wife. Cost me about 100k actual and who knows how much unkown.

It feels like crap. But its best to cut your losses than to keep trying (and losing more).

dbacks233's picture

It does feel like crap. I hate divorce and am doing everything to avoid it, but I can't get over how bitter I'm feeling about everything so that may be where it ends up

GrudgingSM's picture

So, you don't need her permission to go to an estate lawyer, though I have been very straightforward with my DH about how much my kid gets, and what's for him and VERY clear that his kids get nothing. They AREN'T my kids. They are entitled to NOTHING from me. She can shoot down whatever plan you put forward, but it's your estate! And if you've been paying all their bills for the past few years, your wife and her kids are already benefitting. It is HER responsibility to have a job and leave them something if she wants to! And those kids' dad! Also NO KIDS ARE ENTITLED TO AN INHERITANCE. Rad for them if it can happen, but GET JOBS, KIDS. 

Really, your wife's response is totally unacceptable and even kind of gross. Your feelings are valid, and I hope your protect your kids and what you'd like them to inherit from you. You can set up trusts ahead of time or other things, but for sure talk to an estate lawyer. Depending on your job, you might also have an employee assistance program through your insurance that can advise you a bit, but you built that without her help and she doesn't get to dictate who you can leave it to.

dbacks233's picture

Thank you for the tips. This all feels so dirty but dang, just trying to make sure my side of the family doesn't lose everything when I'm gone and I don't have any confidence she would help my kids once I'm gone. Sad I know

GrudgingSM's picture

very sad, and I'm sorry. It doesn't feel good not to have that trust there. I'd be clear with your kids too about what the deal is with the will/estate so they know where to find documents and what to expect. I wouldn't create bad feelings between them and your wife but it would be good for them to be prepared.

ESMOD's picture

I can tell you an example that illustrates the point exactly.  My grandfather on my dad's side was a surgeon... and my grandmother died when her 4 boys were quite young (suicide was the story).  In any case, their dad did remarry and had another son with his new wife.  When my grandfather died... the lion's share of his estate went directly to her.  She ended up remarrying again and at the time of her death was a very wealthy woman (based on inheritances and investment of her inheritences/property appreciation).  She owned a penthouse in the same building Oprah once lived in Chicago.. very much expensive and she had inherited pretty much everything.. including things that belonged to my dad's deceased mother.

When she passed away her estate was distributed to HER two sons (one prior to marriage with my grandfather and one from that marriage).  The entire estate that she had inherited from my grandfather went wholly to her kids.. nothing went to her stepchildren.  

I actually have talked about this with my dad... and amazingly, he really doesn't resent her for this.  He said, he didn't expect to get anything..   I don't know.. maybe he was upset in the past.. I know when their father died.. she tried to make them repay the estate for the prep boarding schools where they were all sent when she married their father... and changed the locks on the apartment during the funeral.  Yet.. my dad kept in touch with her for the entirety of her life.. and never seemed to harbor resentment.

Shoot.. I have some resentment on his behalf.. haha.

I think it's reasonable for parents to want to leave something behind that their children can have to make their lives easier.  I can also see wanting to ensure their spouses are comfortable in life too.  I am also fairly certain most parents don't want to see money that they and in some cases their late spouse built end up bypassing their own children for the children of their spouse. (well.. they won't be around to see that happen.. but you know what I mean).

In estates of sizeable amount.. assets can be put in trust to benefit a spouse during life.. or for whatever time period is reasonable.. remains unmarried/uncohabitated with etc..   But. clearly getting estate advice to ensure that what you want is done. .that's important.  I don't necessarily think that a spouse is automatically entitled to the entirety of your estate via marriage certificate.

The_Upgrade's picture

It's pretty clear what will happen to your kids after you pass. So what are you going to do about it?

option 1: stick your head in the sand and do nothing

option 2: stay married. Set aside exactly what you want to leave to your kids. Put it in a trust account where it is untouchable. You can set up a revocable trust so that in your lifetime you can alter it but once you're gone it's set in stone. Attend marriage counselling so both you and your wife can express your concerns and opinions in a safe controlled setting.

option 3: leave your wife and leave this mess. Consult an attorney on what to do with your funds currently so they don't count as assets of your marriage. Kind of defeats the purpose of leaving if she gets a scoop of the money on the way out. This may require biding your time and playing the long game for a bit. Same game she's playing.

Winterglow's picture

" in my mind, their mom and bio dad are the ones that have the responsibilty of setting up their kids for the future"

Not only in your mind, I think you'd get 100% agreement from all on this site on that. The trouble is that your wife is convinced she can get you to take over her responsibility for doing so. Please, protect your assets and do not get sucked in any further.

"My wife was upset that I refused to put her kids on the policy as beneficiarie's. (I did go out and get a separate smaller policy and list her kids as beneficiaries)   Am I wrong for how I am thinking? "

Your wife has a highly polished brass neck. What right has she to demand that you take care of HER kids when neither she nor their father is lifting so much as their little finger for them?

YES, you are wrong in how you are thinking. Go out there and get that smaller policy cancelled and put any proceeds into your retirement fund! Cater to you and yours and not her and hers. If she wants hr children to have a nest egg one of these days she can get off her lazy arse and damn well EARN IT!

Please make me happy and tell her that she'd better have  job by the end of the month (OK, maybe next month) or you will be GONE. It's high time she started pulling her weight.

Stepmama2321's picture

Who the hell gets to stay at home to help raise THEIR teenagers?! Let alone when it's not YOUR children and on YOUR dime? That's crazy! And she was a SAHM before she got with you? HOW? And no, everyone needs to set up their own children's future, that's her and their dads job.