Bulletin
Investor Alert

The Moneyist Archives | Email alerts

Sept. 7, 2020, 7:38 a.m. EDT

My father left me money for a house — and my husband put his name on the deed. How do I ensure it goes to our kids?

‘When his mother passed away, he received an inheritance of $8,000. I was never told about this money, and he spent all of it’

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
  • X
    S&P 500 Index (SPX)
  • X
    NASDAQ Composite Index (COMP)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

Dear Moneyist,

I have been married to my husband for 38 years and we have three children together. When his mother passed away, he received an inheritance of $8,000. My husband never told me about this money, and he spent all of it before I found out he even received his inheritance.

When my father passed away, he intended that any inheritance we received would be kept in his own family, so naturally my inheritance was made out to me and me alone. I deposited the money into a checking account with just my name on it.

The Moneyist: ‘A man cave on wheels’: My husband’s RV is his pride and joy — but he owes $75,000 on it. If he dies, am I liable?

Within 30 days of receiving my inheritance, I purchased a home with the proceeds, and my husband talked me into putting his name on the deed. The check given to the seller’s attorney was a cashier’s check with my name alone.

If I die before my husband, is it possible to put the house into a living trust given that my father’s intent was to keep the money within the family, and not my married husband’s family? I want this home to be an inheritance for our children, and I don’t want him to sell it as soon as I die.

I wish to make sure that he doesn’t sell it or rent it out in his lifetime. I would like him to live there until he dies. He has paid for a couple of renovations to the home. How would I go about making sure that my kids will have this home as an inheritance, assuming I predecease my husband?

A.G.

Dear A.G.,

What’s his is his — and what’s yours belongs to both of you.

What happens to your property if you predecease your husband, which is obviously not a given, depends on the kind of ownership you share. If you have “tenancy by entirety” or “joint tenancy with right of survivorship” then your husband will inherit your half of the home. If you have “tenancy in common,” then you will be able to bequest your half to someone else, in this case your kids.

If you had bought this property alone with the money you inherited from your father, it’s typically deemed separate property in a community-property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin). Inheritance is usually separate property. But if you use marital funds to improve the property, it becomes community or marital property.

The Moneyist: My mother’s will says her boyfriend can live in her home after she dies. Can I still kick him out if the deed is transferred to me?

But it’s different in separate-property states in most cases where there are no extenuating circumstances. “In a separate property state, one spouse can hold property without having the other spouse on title, and the other spouse would not have any right to that property,” says Kimberly Hanlon, co-founder of Lucere Legal in Minneapolis.

“In the case of a divorce, the court will sometimes look at the proportionate share of contribution when determining how to split up the asset, in which case her contribution in the initial purchase would be weighed against his contribution in the improvements,” she adds. Probate court also considers whether it’s a separate asset, joint asset, and a prenuptial agreement can change it again.

The Moneyist: My husband and I are worth $3.7 million, but I’m afraid I’ll spend my way into the poor house if he dies. When I was single, I bounced checks. What can I do?

In some separate-property states, the surviving spouse has statutory rights to a certain percentage of their deceased spouse’s estate and/or rights in the marital homestead, Hanlon says. “Minnesota is like that. However, the surviving spouse may consent to waive those rights, either in advance — while their spouse still lives — or after the death.”

You don’t say where you live, but your husband seemed to know what he was doing: not putting his name on the deed and using marital funds to renovate the home. The good news is the opposite is also true if he predeceases you. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen and you have many more than your 38 years left. If you do receive another inheritance, don’t let anyone talk you into anything.

<STRONG>You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com</STRONG>

<STRONG>Hello there, MarketWatchers. </STRONG> <STRONG /> <STRONG>Check out</STRONG> <STRONG> <INTERNET URL="https://www.facebook.com/groups/moneyist/" LOCATION="EXTERNAL">the Moneyist private Facebook</INTERNET> <PHRASE TYPE="COMPANY" SIGNIFICANCE="PASSING-MENTION"> <SYMBOL COUNTRY="US" TICKER="FB"></SYMBOL> </PHRASE> group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.</STRONG>

Coronavirus update

COVID-19 has now killed at least 889,213 people worldwide, and 188,941 in the U.S., Johns Hopkins University says. As of Labor Day, the U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,277,847). Worldwide, there has been at least 27,137,624 confirmed cases, which mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases.

<STRONG /> <STRONG /> The Dow Jones Industrial Index /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.58% , the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.16%   and the Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.48% were lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.

/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
29,872.47
-173.77 -0.58%
Volume: 324.19M
Nov. 25, 2020 5:33p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
3,629.65
-5.76 -0.16%
Volume: 2.32B
Nov. 25, 2020 5:33p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
12,094.40
+57.62 +0.48%
Volume: 4.16M
Nov. 25, 2020 5:16p
loading...

Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Personal Finance

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Rates »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.