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Financial planning/distributing assets

Hesitant to try's picture

I realize this is a very private topic, but if anyone is willing to share, here’s my question.


For those of you in a long-term committed partnership (married or not), with adult Skids involved, and with some amount of financial assets… how will your assets be split when one of you dies? Does everything each of you brought to the union go to your own bio kids or other family/friends? Or does some of what you have together as a couple go the surviving spouse/partner and the rest to the bio kids? Does anyone have everything going to the surviving spouse and nothing to the adult skids in either direction?


I’m not looking for advice about wills and trusts and estate planning – I know how to do all that when the time comes. I’m just wondering how couples decide who gets what, when one of you is gone.


I have a SO (2 years) who is talking about us being together forever. All kids are in early 20s. I have 3 kids who we enjoy and see frequently. He has 2 kids – SS is harmless but distant, SD is hostile and now estranged for almost a year. SO admits he doesn’t enjoy his kids and seems to be happy becoming a part of our family. Assuming things stay this way, I’m having a hard time accepting that if something happened to my SO in the coming years, I’d get nothing and his bios would get everything that is his. I suppose things need to be fair across the board and if something happens to me first, I will want a lot of what I have to go to my kids but since they’re a loving part of our life, that feels right to me. Am I being a hypocrite? I think if I liked his kids I’d be taking more of a “team” attitude, but I don’t like them and as I said they’re not a part of our lives and I really doubt that will ever change.


Would love to hear how other couples/families have made these types of decisions. Thanks!



tog redux's picture

I don't have any kids, DH has one. Our wills now say that if he dies first, I get everything, and vice versa. Anything left after that goes partly to SS and partly to my nieces and nephews; HOWEVER, DH is disappointed in SS20's lack of character and has started talking about changing that so he gets nothing. Honestly, if he dies first (likely since he has a medical issue), then SS isn't getting bupkis from me, I'm changing my will - and I will let DH know that.  He's no kind of son to even DH, much less me.

Hesitant to try's picture

Thanks Tog. That makes me feel a little better. If he died in a year and the skids got it all, I'd feel like I didn't matter. Having a hard time accepting that possible scenario. Glad you and DH were able to put each other first.

notarelative's picture

We married when his kids and mine were adults. Everything we owned prior to the marriage is kept as separate property and goes to the bios. What we have saved or bought together goes to the surviving spouse. When the surviving spouse dies, anything left of the together inheritance is split between bios and skids.


Hesitant to try's picture

Thanks Notarelative, sounds like a really fair plan and something that could work for us too!

Merry's picture

Our kids were adults when we married. My DH has a nice pension but no assets. No savings, no financial instruments of any kind, so nothing to leave to anyone. Won't his kids be surprised. 

I will also have a nice pension, with sizeable assets. Inheritance from my parents goes to my bio. Retirement savings prior to marrying DH goes to my bio. Anything since goes half to DH, half to bio. I guess the only joint asset we have is our house, and I'm ok with that being sold and split among all the kids.

But when I retire in the next few years I need to look at putting funds into a trust so that DH has money for his needs, then distributed to my bio. Unlikely he'll outlive me, but you never know.


The_Upgrade's picture

And at which stage of their lives the parents divorced, and which stage new relationships were established. And the age of the bio kids if there are any. For example I can understand how wrong it would be if the dad met SM really late in life, got married and died a year later leaving everything to her. Steps can easily argue that she came at a time when their dad was vulnerable and cheated them out of their inheritance. 

In my situation DH split with BM when SD was young, she cleaned him out. Then continued to cash in well past SD reaching adulthood while at the same time destroying and chance of a relationship between SD and DH. DH and I built our lives and our business up from the ground. I have protected my assets in the case of my early death so that it goes to our DD who is only 3 years old. My DH has with the advice of our solicitor left as little to SD as possible but enough so that if she challenges the will, her chances of success are low. 

It wasn't an easy road to reach this decision. Originally DH wanted his assets split evenly between his two daughters, not wanting to show favouritism. But luckily our financial planner sat him down and crunched the numbers in front of him. For DD to have just basic support for schooling and cost of living, the amount would be nowhere near adequate, whereas SD who was well provided for in her childhood gets a massive lump sum in her adult years. Equal distribution upon death means different amounts. He also grudgingly accepted my decision that none of my assets will go directly to him to protect it from SD but considering the history, I'd rather have that tough conversation now than worry about things I can't control when I'm gone. 

JRI's picture

Altho we each have bios, his 3 and my 2, our steplife has revolved around the 7 of us as a family.  Altho there have been assorted issues and altho the kids now mostly interact with their own bio sibs, we choose to treat the estate as a family unit.  When either of us dies, it all goes to the survivor.  When the survivor dies, a 5 way split.  It seems fair: in the early years, DH provided most of the $; in the later years, it was me.

I realize a later marriage would have us making different choices but this mode reflects what we have tried to achieve, one family.


Hesitant to try's picture

solid plan, JRI. Great that you can feel that the 7 of you make the family, as imperfect as it is. I think I could get there if My SO's kids were more accepting, involved in his life. Maybe that day will come, but I doubt it. We are coming together later, both in our 50s, with well established finances from our earlier lives, but hopefully we stay healthy and can have a good 20+ years together. I wonder if plans/arrangements would change over time, see how things play out as the years go by. 

SteppedOut's picture

JRI, given particularly your one exceptionally mooching sd, do you have a trust or something similar (besides a will) to ensure your children do inherit? If you were to pass before your husband, could she talk him into changing his will? 

JRI's picture

I've thought about that.  DH is 8 years older than me and has prostate cancer so it's likely he will go first but in the unlikely case I go first, he swears be is going to immediately give each of the 5 a chunk.  I don't think that's wise, I think he will need it all but he will do what he wants to do.  He plans to get financial help and advice from DD and our daughter-in-law, a very stable person.  He will need ongoing monthly help to pay bills and handle things since dementis (I think) is coming on.  I have spoken to both and both have agreed to help him.  Both know about SD so Im counting on them to help him hold the line against her, for their own sakes, if nothing else.  I have a file marked "Emergency" that both of them and DS, but no one else know the location.  It outlines everything in detsil. Sigh...steplife...


MissTexas's picture


His kids beyond middle aged adults, and very wealthy. They need nothing, owning multiple homes and other assets.

We have been together for years. I have been there for his every need, and "kids" are nowhere to be seen.

It's a very long story, and I think you may've seen some of my posts.

I will get a life ins pay out on the policy, but it will not be enough to last for the remainder of my life. He is drawing his retirement now, so no beneficiary to that. Anything we have purchased during the time we have been together is mine (not much). My life insurance is  split with my BK's. My kids also will recieve their inheritance from their BF. 

Many people feel the spouse should get everything from the other one in the event of death, irregardless of which number spouse it is (first, or subsequent marriage). Some feel their kids should get it all. That's my DH's case. He suffers tremendously from divorced daddy guilt and wanted to give his weathy kids EVERYTHING, though they own multiple houses and are very well off. But daddy has met their every whim, all their lives, so why would he stop now?

Good luck!

Hesitant to try's picture

before you do, his kids gets everything except the 1 life insurance policy in your name and the small amount you have acquired since you've been together? That's it? I assume this is not what you'd prefer? Do you guys ever argue about this? How long have you been together? 

tfsimmons's picture

Miss Texas, Could a divorce be a more fair means of maritial distribution??  I'm sure you've looked into it  just wondering what the pros and cons could possibly be!!  I can honestly say the majority of step life sucks -  with the exception of my stepgrandkids!!

MissTexas's picture

on me and I discovered who I was married to wasn't who I thought he was at ALL.

He has given them everything, so no, a divorce wouldn't be feasible at this point. 

I agree with you. If men were "MEN" and knew that under all conditions and circumstances their  spouse must come first, and your marriage must come before other relationships, then it wouldn't be the hell hole it is most of the time.

I honestly thought that by marrying someone older (no mother-in-law etc) than me (giving up a career, sex, and much more to accommodate this very needy man) & that our kids were grown, (no visitations to contend with) that it would be a mature, worry-free life, and we could focus on our future lives together. NOT SO. 

To be perfectly clear, I absolutely ADORED THIS MAN, (before I learned about all of the back door legal dealings with his "kids")  and because I thought he was taking care of me and I wouldn't have to worry about my future, I was ok with giving up all that I did. I married him in my prime and though sex isn't "everything" it's a pretty important part of marriage for many people. 

I'm glad you enjoy the grandkids. I DO NOT, as I see the repetitive entitlement life cycle repeating. People who will never hear the word "NO" or ever have their butts whipped for any reason. Make no mistake, the "time out" generation, for the most part, has not produced the quality citizens that the "ass busting" generation produced. 

Sandybeaches's picture

Are you married?  In most states you can not disinherit your spouse and that is what he would be doing if you get nothing ... Again I am not sure if you are married but usually spouses are entitled to the first 50,000 of the estate.  If married I would check into that.

MissTexas's picture


I poured all of myself into this man, thinking that's how marriage works, and when you're in the trenches, they dive in with you. Mine actually created this chaos, so I have zero sympathy or empathy, as it doesn't make sense at all.

I have checked into it. It's complicated. You can message me if you'd like, for a more detailed scenario.

twopines's picture

My DH will probably die first, due to our age difference and a health issue. His adult kids will get nothing. If I die first, most of my assets go to my DD, because what I brought into the marriage came from $$ when her dad died. DH can stay living in the house I own, and he will get some $$ from life insurance. The only thing we own together is a vehicle. 

Tried out's picture

a spouse is entitled to 50% of everything. Not just things held jointly - everything. If there is no will or trust the other 50% is divided between the deceased spouse's children and parents. I discovered this after we were married and I was horrified. Had we been in this situation, I would have had to buy his family out of the house that I owned prior to my marriage because it became a joint asset when we said "I do." 

Miss T's picture

... that I insisted DH sign before I married him. It was no-go otherwise. Everything I have is mine to do with what I will.

All my property and every cent of mine is willed to a trust. If I die first, DH gets a small income and lifetime residency in the house we share. After he goes everything gets sold and the proceeds go to charity. For the first years of our marriage I made a great deal more money than DH. I put him through a job training program, and also kept him from falling into arrears on child support.

Due to a certain amount of what I will politely refer to as bad faith that now exists between us, he is not aware that he will never have any legal interest in the property we share. Left to his own devices, he would leave everything he has to SS. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that SS would try to force me out if he had any claim on my property. So this is what I did. It's hard to describe the sense of relief I felt once all the documents were signed putting everything into place. I know, I'm a witch. Sue me.

Offspring? I have 3 bios, all--how can I put this nicely?--all ne'er-do-wells. They will get zip. I have taken care that his bio, who has been nothing but snotty and worse to me for 15 years, will get the same.

I try always to follow my own advice: Never miss a chance to keep your big mouth shut. None of my nearest and dearest know how things are set up. This has required some tight-rope walking on my part. Believe it or not, life chez Miss T is pretty decent despite that. I'm just glad I won't be around to hear the shrieking if I die before any of the rest of them do.

tfsimmons's picture

I think I got a "Girl Cush", Miss T!

hereiam's picture

Does anyone have everything going to the surviving spouse and nothing to the adult skids in either direction?

I have no kids (by choice, don't feel bad for me!), my DH has 2 daughters. One is completely estranged from him, the other, he has more of an over-the-phone relationship, as BM did a pretty good job over the years of ruining their relationship.

Besides the fact that DH and I have been together for 24 years and he had nothing when we met, he doesn't feel the need to leave either daughter anything, so everything goes to me (to him, if I die). If we were to die together, most goes to our niece (my sister's kid), some to my other sister.

We had very simple wills printed up and notarized just this summer and had a separate affidavit notarized that he purposely left his daughters nothing, so it could not be questioned as a mistake. Almost everything we have has a "transfer on death" beneficiary, anyway, even our house.



shamds's picture

They are now almost 25, 22 and almost 15.

i have been married to my husband for 6 yrs and have 2 kids with him aged 3 & 4. Recently hubby withdrew a large chung if his retirement savings to buy a home in my country as our kids are schooling there. This home is solely in my name. Exwife as of 2 yrs ago after 5 plus yrs of no contact decided to have sd's continually hassle hubby to maintain child support to them indefinitely. 

sd25 still gets a monthly allowance despite being in full time employment from her graduate job since over 1.5 yrs ago. She has been harrassing my husband every few months that he owes them and needs to transfer a home he bought post divorce to them because he owes their mum

i pre-empted what their intentions were which is to start with hubby gifting one property then another. 2 skids are friggin adults and another will be an adult in a few yrs and our kids are yet to start compulsory schooling. I told hubby his duty was to ensure minor kids are provided for and i was not gonna be in a marriage where he'd rather i fight the crazy exwife and skids making us homeless and trying to disinherit us. 

hubby knows he can't trust skids because they continually tell him that me and my 2 kids are strangers. Hubby's pension retirement is willed to me solely as he figured if anything happened to him then our kids financially require the most upkeep as skids have benefitted more and 2 finished school and university and another one has a few yrs of high school to finish. 

my pension retirement savings from superannuation is willed 40% each to my kids and 20% to hubby. 
my husband has told all skids together that his retirement savings is allocated to me. His life insurance policy for his job would automatically go to me. 

hubby set a savings acct for all 3 skids which i think will have $100,000 in each. He doesn't see them needing any more financial support from him when they are leeches and disrespectful arseholes.

Wilhelm's picture

We have kept our finances seperate. I am leaving my assets to my two children. I own the house we live in. I paid for the house on our last move so my husband could take his share of the cash and use it. He has given some of this money to his children My husband is older than me but in the event of him outliving me he will be allowed to remain in the house as long as bills are paid and the house is maintained to the satisfaction of my children. One of my children who is diabled lives with us.
I am his full time carer so unless his children step up and help their father he will have nowhere to live. 
I don't think it likely this will happen but one never knows.

I am just too annoyed at one of his daughter's asking what she is going to get when he dies to let her have anything.

Swim_Mom's picture

We spent a good year and a half doing a post-nuptial agreement and separate trusts/wills. DH and I have been married 4+ years, together for 6. He has 4 kids and I have 3. We both do well professionally, but until earlier this year half of his income went to his ex (now maintenance is done!!!). I have worked way too hard in my career to see a dime of what I earned and invested go to his kids. So our terms are as follows:

-finances are totally separate - only one joint account we use to both contribute to large expenses such as property taxes and homeowners/auto/umbrella liability.

-401k's, after tax investments, stock, everything is his/hers NOT ours.

-all assets held in separate trusts including the equity in our home. I have ~80% of the equity as I put a lot more cash in (proceeds from sale of my "Single Mom" house). 

-We each leave 40% of our estates to each other and 60% to be divided among our own respective children. 

-The spousal portion of estate reverts to the deceased's children upon the recipient's death. In other words, if I die first, he can use the 40% but whatever is left goes back to my kids. Again, not a dime from me to his children.

-However - like any other happy couple we look forward to a shared retirement. We both have pretty good retirement savings, and I also have a pension. Ultimately our finances will be more blended, even if we keep separate accounts, since we will decide for various reasons (tax planning, health situations, etc) the order in which we access retirement income that will not necessarily allow for a 'his and hers' approach rather than 'ours'. We will need to revisit this and how we handle it. But this is why I feel it is very important to marry someone who has similar 'financial style'. Even if we were completely separate, any debt is looked at as marital property (we have no debt) and ultimately retirement is together. One could end up supporting the other if both are not disciplined and thoughtful about retirement planning.

-In conclusion - separate but together and protect yourself and your children!

ESMOD's picture

I have no bios.. my DH has two adult bios (were 5 and 9 when we met.. so I have been in their life a long time though).  Both girls are independently living without any support from us.. one married with kids.. one not married yet.. but dating a guy for a while.

They both are well employed.. no drama (to speak of really).. no substance abuse issues.. no major history of estrangement etc...  I get along much better and have a closer relationship with my younger SD.. but no real problems with the older one.. she is just a bit more distant..even with dad.. but relationship is still decent.

My DH did not have a lot of assets when we met.. I had a home (with some equity) which we have since sold and rolled proceeds forward into property we own now.

Our plan is as follows... if one of us passes first.. the other gets 100% of the assets and proceeds.  Then... it will be up to the remaining person how to distribute their own wills.  Obviously.. my dH would leave things to his girls... honestly.. it's pretty much likely that I will do the same.  Even if I were to be the surviving spouse.. I have had a long and pretty close relationship with the girls.. I'm in my mid 50's.. so thinking I would remarry at this late stage?  not so sure that would be happening... Ultimately, there would be a risk.. but since most everything we have built came during our relationship.. there was not a clear line of what was "his" to will.  

Barring some major estrangement.. I would feel that it would be the right thing to do to have some distribution to his kids in my will even if I did move on and remarry.  I mean.. at least a portion of what I would have had was due to their father's efforts... and while he would want those things to be available to me as long as I was alive... he would hope that I would do the right thing and pass along some of his legacy to them.

Kaylee's picture

When my ex and I were still together and talking about the future, I said that I wanted a property relationship agreement whereby

Everything we owned prior is kept separate

My estate goes to MY kids, and vice versa 

If we bought a house together - when one of us dies, the surviving partner stays in the house until their death. Only then is the house sold and the proceeds divided 50/50 between the kids from both sides.

That kind of thing.....

I would have that agreement drawn up with any future partner too. No two ways about it.

Picardy III's picture

We really need to draw up our wills, though we're relatively young. I would leave everything to DH, and he to me, I'm fairly confident. We are the 100% primary beneficiaries of each other's 401Ks and life insurance.
If DH passes with or before me, I'm fine with assets being divided equally among my 3 SKs and 1 DD if they're adults, or proportionately based on their remaining years to adulthood if any of them are minors at the time of his/my death.

Neither DH or I had huge assets going into our marriage (though I had more). I was early in my career, and his assets were decimated by his divorce. So any assets we build are joint.

Christine435's picture

My DH and I finally went through all this last year. I have no bios and he has two. Both were adults when we started dating. 

DH is steadily employed and owns 1/3 of a small business. I am on disability (which I was able to support myself with before meeting DH). I was renting and be owned a house that needed a lot of work, which we've both contributed to. My name was not on the deed and we found out that if he died first, in my state, I only get a certain percentage of the house, and the 2 kids get the rest. It's a large percentage I would get, but I'd have to sell or buy them out. 

Last year we finally stopped procrastinating and had a new deed drawn up with both our names on it so it's my house as well and goes to me. He is also much older than me and he didn't want me to have to worry about where to live. 

I asked him about the assets (everything is combined at this point) and he wanted all assets to go to me if he passes first. If I pass first, it all goes to him. We had a Will drawn up outlining this and we specified that if he were to die first, a few specific items (some of financial value) would go to each of his kids...especially certain items passed down from his parents/grandparents.

If he's gone and then I die, the house is split between the two kids but my life insurance, retirement, bank accounts, and any other assets, except the house, go to my brother. 


Hesitant to try's picture

Thanks for sharing your plans, Christine. Hearing other's decisions is quite helpful.

NYCEastside's picture

DH and I were together 5 years prior to marriage. Unfortunately, as stupid as it sounds, we never talked about money. I had my own successful business and owned a house. DH had a great job, owned an apartment and did well. Two weeks before the wedding he gave me a prenup which was totally one-sided. If he died, his only son ( I have no children)  got everything and I could live in the apartment - which his son had the right to sell at any time. It was crazy!  We argued about it and I reluctantly signed it 48 hours before our wedding. We have now been married for almost 10 years and have never resolved some of the issues regarding the prenup. Despite two attempts to do a post-nup and my hiring one of the top matrimonial lawyers in my city, nothing got resoved.

In the meantime, the last 5 years have been terrible for my business. I am filing for corporate bankruptcy on December 1st. At this moment in time, I don't want to have anything in my name or joint names as I may have to file personal bankruptcy as well. The stress from all this has caused me to have high blood pressure and other ailments. I know he would never throw me in the street, but I have no sense of security should something happen to him. I am in therapy which is helping me to deal with all this and have had to put the estate issues on "hold." My advice to you is to discuss everything prior to marriage and to plan for contingencies should one of you become disabled or bankrupt.

tfsimmons's picture

What a f**king asshole!

tfsimmons's picture


Hesitant to try's picture

thanks NYCE, for sharing. I'm really sorry to hear about your situation and I hope you get things resolved soon so you can have some peace of mind re: your future should something happen to your DH. I will use this as a cautionary tale for sure. 

Casey76's picture

Currently H's will states everything goes to me.  I wanted to wait until we closed on our house before I go to get mine done, and I still haven't.  I need to really get on that (started a new job in July - bought house late June), but wanted to get a feel for the new job and taking time off before getting on it.  

I guess I plan to leave everything to H, but feel a little ambivalent towards him leaving all of what I brought into the marriage (namely my 401k) to the skids.  I guess I need to discuss with him wanting to have some of that split to my nieces and nephews since I don't have bio kids.  

He trusts that I will do what I need to do with the assets we have accumulated together (he had barely any savings when we got together thanks to the ex-wife who spent faster than he could make when they were married) - he makes a lot more than me so it's been mostly the money he makes that goes into our savings account.  He already knows I won't pay SS's support if something happens to him, but I can't say I wouldn't be willing to help out with some things if SS shows growth and maturity (by that I mean maybe some money towards a car or buying a house - not paying his rent or utilities).  

Rags's picture

IMHO ours kids get half or more of the marital estate. Half of their dad's half, and half of their mom's half. If they are only children for one of their parents, they get 3/4 of the estate. All of the non prior breeding parents share, and half of the prior breeding parent's share.  It really gets complex if both spouses bring prior spawn to the mix plus add one of more ours babies.  Even then, prior relationship children have access to the resources and the estate of their other parent so... ours babies should still get a significant preferential share of the joint estate of their still married parents.

In our case, each of us is the sole heir and beneficiary for the other.  SS-28 is an only child in our marriage.  He asked me to adopt him when he was 22.  I have raised him as my own since before he was 2yo.  So our estate picture is pretty simple.

My parents estate is to be split between my brother and I upon their demise. 

Keep it simple is the way to go IMHO.  Make it pure math, even in yours, mine, and ours marriages.  Ours kids do not have access to the non related parents that their half sibs have. This will tend to minimize the drama once both spouses have passed though the non joint kids will likely bitch to high Heaven when their younger half sibs get the lion's share of marrital assets.

IMHO of course.