My Stepmother Won’t Forgive Me for Telling My Father Not to Put Her in His Will

Elle Silver

Adult children have the right to discuss their inheritance with their parents — especially if they remarry late in life. 

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After my mother died, my father started dating a new woman. When he told me he was going to marry her, I asked him if he was going to put her in his will.

He was seventy-five years old when he married my stepmother. He brought considerable assets into their union. She brought nothing.

I didn’t blame her for that. I just thought I had a right to broach the issue of my dad’s will with him since up to that point, I had understood his assets would be bequeathed to me when he died. 

Was my father going to put this new wife into his will or not?

I told him he shouldn’t. 

I don't trust my father when it comes to money.

I might mention that I don’t trust my father very much when it comes to money. After my mother died, he promised to give me money as part of my inheritance from my mother.

He reneged on this promise and kept the money for himself.

So I already distrusted my dad when I had this conversation with him. Now that he was getting remarried, I trusted him even less. 

That and I felt like I had a right to know how this new woman was going to factor into his will. 

Her sons are both quite wealthy. I am not. My fear was that my father would leave his new wife half of what might go to me. Then, when she died, that money would go to her sons, who didn’t even need it.

It didn’t seem fair. The majority of what my father had in savings and investments had been accrued while he was married to my mother. I felt like that money should go to me.

I broached the subject with my dad and his new wife-to-be. I will attest: it wasn’t a very pretty conversation.

Mostly, this was my fault. I didn’t bring up the subject in the best of ways.

I was quite heavy-handed in speaking about it. As I said, I don’t trust my father. I was accusatory of both my dad and my stepmom-to-be.

I didn’t mean to come off as cruel, but I was hurt and feeling afraid. Both emotions will cause the best of us to act in immature ways.

Yes, there was quite a bit of yelling and crying on my and my soon-to-be stepmother's part. She was incredibly offended that I had said not to put her in my dad’s will. 

She said her sons didn’t want or need my father’s money. How dare I even assume this!

And how dare I say she shouldn’t get any money from my dad if he died before her!

I apologized to my stepmom. She won't forgive me.

I’ve heard it said that money is the last taboo. I agree. It’s an ugly conversation anytime you have one about money. 

This is especially true when this conversation is about family money. Arguments over money can just about tear a family apart. 

It’s torn mine apart.

I had this conversation with my dad and stepmom eight years ago. I’ve tried to apologize to my stepmother multiple times since.

I’ve said I no longer think she shouldn’t get any of my dad’s money when he dies. I’ve told her I’m sorry — explained that I was speaking from a place of fear.

I’ve also told her that this was ultimately an issue between my father and me. She won’t listen. She won’t forgive me.

She’s still angry at me. Every time I see her, she finds a way to remind me of the “horrific” thing I said. 

It wasn’t horrific. The subject needed to be discussed. No, I didn’t discuss my inheritance sweetly. I shouldn’t have said that my stepmother shouldn’t be written into my dad’s will. 

Still, I believe I said what needed to be said. At this point, it’s on my stepmother if she never forgives me. 

Was I wrong in bringing up the subject of my inheritance with my dad when he remarried? No. 

For a long time, I believed I was wrong in even talking about my inheritance with my dad. Maybe I shouldn’t have discussed it at all.

But I wasn’t wrong in talking about it. Adult children have a right to ask their parents about any inheritance they might receive.

This is  especially true if parents remarry at an older age. No, adult children don’t have the right to make demands or threats of their parents. But they have a right to know what’s going on. 

It’s not offensive to talk about a parent's will. 

Older parents, who have gotten remarried, need to communicate their goals for their money if they die. The information needs to come out to avoid discord between the new spouse and the children from another marriage. 

At this point, I'm still in the dark as to what I will be getting if my dad dies. I don't know who's designated as the beneficiary on my dad’s retirement accounts, life insurance policies, et cetera. Whoever is listed as the beneficiary will get that money when my father dies.

Unless it’s written in the will, the house that my father purchased for my stepmother and him to live in will also go to her upon his death. I'd at least like to know what my dad has put in his will.

I don't.

Like I said, money is the last taboo.

I had a right to discuss this issue . No,  not the way I did. I shouldn’t have told my dad not to put my stepmom in the will. But I had and still have the right to know what I will inherit if my dad dies.

What do you think? Do you agree? And if you’ve also had a difficult conversation about the will and your inheritance with a parent, how did it go? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA
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