My mom and dad had a rocky part of their marriage in their early sixties. They have already been separated for six months. My mother had some mental health issues that caused the breakup. My father is almost 72 years old and my mother passed away eight years ago.
My dad worked in a different city for a while. During that time, he had an affair with a much younger co-worker. I got pregnant and had a baby. My mom and dad didn’t say anything about this. She blamed herself for driving my father away.
Since the death of my mother, my father lives alone. Sometimes he’ll disappear for a week at a time and just say he’s out of town visiting friends. My father has just been diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis is good, but he talked to all my sisters about his possessions.
““My two sisters were in shock at the revelation.”“
My dad just dropped a bombshell about this issue and his 9 year old brother we didn’t know. My sisters were in shock at the revelation. I am 40, and my sister is in her mid 30’s.
My parents helped us all when we got married and started our careers. We are all financially secure. My father and mother have accumulated a rather large estate. He owns about $5 to $6 million in real estate, and has about $2.5 million in Roth IRAs, plus some CDs and a brokerage account. Finally, his net worth is $10 million.
““Can a half-brother get 25% of my father’s estate?”“
He also told us he started a 529 for our brother and has about $60,000 in it. The woman he was having an affair with had not requested any child support, according to Abi, and they had been seeing each other for the past few years.
My father will update his will and estate plan. We have been asked for suggestions on how to handle this. Two sisters are angry with my father and don’t want to discuss it. I’m the only one who understands a little.
My concerns are: What do we have to do legally? Can a half-brother get 25% of my father’s estate? What are the rights of a girlfriend in my father’s estate? My father had a clear mind, and his cancer diagnosis started this conversation.
Dazed and Confused in Colorado
Dear Dazed and Confused,
You can look at this new addition to your family through the lens of fear and resentment, or as a Thanksgiving gift.
There are no guarantees that a parent with a $10 million fortune will leave Which him to his children. Yes, your father’s son is fortunate to have parents with such capabilities, especially since it will undoubtedly be a surprise. But you and your sisters are lucky too. You had a lifetime to get used to the idea.
I am glad you asked about the legality and process of dividing your father’s estate. If we are not here to help each other, what is the point? Your father’s wealth should make it easier for you and your sisters to understand the news that your father has a child whose life now brings immeasurably more opportunities. As you do too.
Three things: 1. Not all states treat half-siblings equally under will laws. 2. Children are not considered legal heirs. And 3. Your 9-year-old brother is Not Stepchild. He is your father’s biological child, and your half-brother. The biggest mistake you can make is allowing your father’s relationship to reflect your feelings for your younger brother.
““He is your father’s biological child, and your half-brother.”“
You have several options. You can divide your father’s property four ways, and treat your 9-year-old brother as an equal. Or you can use your state’s laws as a guide. I prefer a 25% split. Your father can set up a trust in his name to provide for his schooling expenses, provide him with an income, and eventually, a lump sum to spend on real estate or to set up his own business.
In Texas, if there is more than one full sibling, half-siblings inherit half of what a full sibling inherits because they only share one parent with the others, writes Rania Combs, an attorney licensed in Texas and North Carolina. She adds that in California, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, and North Carolina, half-siblings and full-siblings have the same will rights.
There may come a time when he needs an older sibling, or would like an older sibling for guidance. In addition to being a financial dilemma for your family – regarding inheritance – it is also an opportunity for you to guide and serve this boy as he grows up. He may think he is an only child.
Another inheritance, if you will, lies in the goodwill and acceptance of you and your sister.
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