Dear Moneyist: I am considering proposing to a long time girlfriend, but I am not sure how to handle the asset split in the future. I have been previously married and have a son in high school. He has no children and there are no plans for any in the future. I have quite sizeable assets within my retirement savings, brokerage accounts, and a liquidated home.
“There is a good chance that he has early-onset Alzheimer’s.” How do I divide my wealth between my girlfriend and my daughter? Do I ask you first?
The catch is that there is a good chance that I will have early-onset Alzheimer’s in the next 10 to 15 years (one of my parents got it in the late 50’s, which means it’s probably inherited). I have not been tested for the gene and I am not planning it, but with a high level of certainty, I will get it. My girlfriend knows it perfectly. With that said, I am trying to plan financially so that my health care does not become a burden, which is my highest priority. But in terms of modifying my will for the leftovers, I’m having trouble. I have my own assets that I have accumulated and a considerable portion of the assets left to me by my grandparents and one of my parents. The Moneyist: I married my husband 20 years ago. He has 4 children and I have 1. I paid for our house. Who should inherit it after we leave? Is it wrong to leave the funds passed down from generation to generation solely for my daughter and to leave other funds to my new wife? While I want my wife to have sufficient funds given that she will most likely live at least another 15 more years without me, she will also have a decent pension plan in her own workplace. It’s difficult to divide assets when you’ve been married before and have children, but the high potential for early terminal illness adds another complexity. Is it something we should discuss, or should I just make these decisions on my own? I can see how each path can create a tension that I don’t want. What are your thoughts? Contemplating The Moneyist Marriage: My wife found a half brother through Ancestry.com. Are we morally or ethically obligated to share his father’s estate? Do you want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here. Dear Beholder, It is more than fair to make sure that you take care of your daughter and that she inherits 100% of the inheritance passed down to her by her grandparents. They would want that. It is also a way to help your own grandchildren, in case your daughter changes her mind and decides to have children. Your daughter should be your number one priority. If you’re going to ask someone for advice, let it be hers. Currently, she is his sole legal heir and it is fair and reasonable to want to discuss her estate planning with her daughter. Once you have her perspective, you can bring it up with your girlfriend. The only thing someone should bet on receiving from a marriage is commitment and honesty. No one should marry with the expectation that they will succeed financially. Of course, you can take into account their respective assets, but they should not be a motivating factor. The Moneyist: My spendthrift fiancee, 30, refused to sign a prenup. Would it be wrong to secretly deposit my assets in a trust? She would also benefit from her own retirement funds and Social Security. You can design your plans in advance. You are not asking for their permission, but you can always ask for their comments and thoughts. You can decide to take them into account or not. In an ideal world, we fall in love with the expectation of nothing of a material nature in return. I don’t think your girlfriend is with you for any reason other than because she loves you, especially if she shares your perspective on your possible prognosis. I hope you are wrong about your own health and I respect your decision not to test for the gene. It is important to plan for all possible or probable eventualities, but also to remember to enjoy the moment. I hope you have many, many more. The Moneyist: My sister became my father’s attorney-in-fact, got a reverse mortgage, and used up her principal. What I can do? Hello MarketWatchers. Check out Moneyist’s private FB Facebook group, + 0.22%, where we seek answers to life’s thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Quentin Fottrell is a MarketWatch Moneyist columnist. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at email@example.com. By emailing your questions, you agree to have them posted anonymously on MarketWatch.