Life and Money With Helaine by Helaine Olen

Specific Inheritance Wishes

Hi, Helaine: I've got four middle-aged children, and I am well-off. My youngest daughter, age 45, is married to a man who is spiteful and possibly mentally ill. For more than a decade, he's done his best to alienate my daughter from me.

She and I are now on good terms after several difficult years, but I don't like the idea of her husband inheriting anything from me, so in my will I say if my daughter predeceases me, he is to get nothing. (They have no children.) A friend thinks this is a terrible idea, and will create bad feelings among my children because, of course, if my daughter is alive when I die, she will very likely see this clause excluding her husband. Is there a way I can keep everyone happy while also making sure my money goes to my children and not this interloper? -- Not a Penny for Son-in-Law

Dear Not a Penny: This is actually an easy one. If a beneficiary dies prior to the person who wrote the will, their share reverts to the estate and is divided among the other inheritors. Nothing need be said at all. If your other children have children, and you want them to inherit if their parent passes before you, you will need to put language in the will saying that. If you haven't done so already, I suggest doing that.

The only issue here is if you are worried about another child's spouse and want them to inherit in the sad event of a child predeceasing you. I see two solutions here. Either suggest they look into term life insurance to cover the amount they could expect to inherit. Or -- and this goes back to your original problem -- simply put language in your will that takes care of the daughter- or son-in-law you want to make sure is financially OK.

That won't necessarily make for peace in the family, but then again, what does your daughter expect? If she spent a decade with a man who attempted -- to use your word -- to alienate her from you, she shouldn't be surprised that you don't favor her husband. It's your money, and yours to parcel out as you wish

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