I am writing to you in desperation. I have no regular income weekly or monthly. I recently married my second husband. He has three adult children from his first marriage, and two from his second marriage, one of which is mentally challenged and lives with us — even though her mother officially has co-custody of her.
She and her sister will inherit a large sum of his life insurance when he passes, and I know nothing about what the children from the first marriage are willed. I know nothing about his finances or his will. I asked to be listed on his bank account and he refused. I asked for a credit card, and he gave me one with a $1,000 monthly spending limit.
He gives me a little money when feels like it: $100 or so, and no more than $200. We bought a house that he calls ours and let me pick out before we were married. He promised as soon as we were married, he would put my name on the deed, and said he would change his will, but four months later nothing has been done.
I don’t want to be in a battle with his kids if he passes first. I am 57 and he’s 80 and, according to the laws of nature, he will most likely go first. I love him dearly, but the fact that he is not keeping his promises is really making me question if he truly cares for me, and knows how worried I am about these matters.
Can you tell me how to handle this and what my legal options are and should be concerning our finances?
Dear New Wife,
Rather than rely on your husband for pocket money, I suggest you get a job, even if it is a part-time job. It will make you feel more independent, open up your world, and give you a sense of purpose outside of both yourself and your marriage. It will also help allay some of your frustration of what your husband decides to give you as an allowance every month.
The law varies depending on whether you live in an equitable-distribution or community-property state, and the extent to which a spouse can (or cannot) be disinherited. However, if your husband bought the house before you were married, it’s separate property. That could very likely be why he decided to purchase it prior to your marriage.
Your husband does not sound like a man who has no will, especially given that he will need to make provisions for his child who will need long-term care. In the event that he did die without a will, your share depends on what state you live in. In New York, you would inherit the first $50,000 and half of your husband’s estate if he died without a will.
About those bank accounts. “A surviving spouse is not generally allowed to take a spousal election from non-marital property …notably, property that was acquired prior to marriage,” according to Meyer & Spencer. “This kind of separate property can be transformed into marital property by mixing it with marital property, for example, in a joint account.”
You are seeing this from your perspective. But there is always more than one vantage point. If you are questioning whether your husband truly loves you because he has not changed the title deed on your home, please allow him the same unpleasant doubts about his new wife given your multiple requests regarding the deed, and your unhappiness over your credit-card limit.
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