I have a situation that calls for impartial leadership on heritage, marital life, and aging.
My husband and I are both in our second marriage. We have been married for seven years so far. He has no children, I have grown children who start their independent life after their education. I'm in my late 40s and he's in his 50s. When we got married, we lived in my home state, Louisiana, a jointly owned state. There was no marriage.
Before we got married, my husband spent all of his savings saving a family property in Maine. His mother put herself in a financial bind, with a reverse mortgage on the property, and hid it from her children.
She spent all the money and then couldn't afford to keep the maintenance going. My husband's two siblings could not or would not help with the purchase of this property so that it would not go to the bank. My husband verbally agreed to allow his mother to continue living in the house as long as she pays the utilities and can safely live there on her own.
For context, this property was valued at $ 500,000 when it was refinanced shortly after we got married, prior to the cottage renovation. Last month it was valued at $ 900,000 before renovating the larger home.
We renovated my mother-in-law's former home
After we got married, my husband refinanced the property and we both renovated a one bedroom cottage for rent. I also bought all of the interior fittings and housewares.
After the cottage was completely renovated and firmly booked throughout the rental season, my husband's siblings began to wonder who would inherit the property and called me a gold digger. Their concern was that if I survived my husband, the property could go to me and then to my children. This started an emotionally painful discussion that has created tension in our marriage.
At the same time as this discussion, my mother-in-law decided to move into an “efficiency apartment” with one level closer to civilization. My husband's property is in a rural coastal area.
I also inherited property from my late parents
In addition, both of my parents died within a year, leaving me my own vacant Tennessee property and half of their remaining estate. The other half went to my siblings. I ended my 26 year career and am now receiving a generous state pension.
My husband and I agreed upon marriage that when it was time to retire, we would move to his mother's former estate in Maine that he had bought from her. His career enables him to live anywhere in the United States.
He asked me to invest my inheritance in renovating his family's property. He also said that his last will and will gives me lifelong rights, with the option to sell and receive 50% of the proceeds and his siblings, and their heirs receive the other 50%.
“He asked me to invest my inheritance in renovating his family's property. He also said his last one gives me the right to live. '
I didn't feel comfortable with it as wills can be changed at any time without my knowledge. I asked my husband to add a waiver or something more solid to the court records that would give me more security should he pass me. After paying off some of my own family goods, I saw what can happen to a vulnerable person if they lose their spouse or become incapacitated.
My husband had a conversation with his siblings and said we would make this our marital home. This caused one sibling to get angry and scream and cry. My husband decided that he couldn't change the deed and that I just had to be satisfied with the current will.
If anything happened to my husband, his family would immediately throw me on the street.
I retreated 1,800 miles in good faith
Because of this, with some of my inherited money, I bought my own house nearby. I recently launched it for $ 100,000 more than I paid for, and there's good interest. My husband still insists that we move into his property and now wants me to invest my inherited assets and the proceeds from the sale of my investment property to renovate his property.
We sold our married home in Louisiana and used 100% of the proceeds to renovate its separate lot. I have no idea how much he makes until we file taxes every year. We have a shared checking and savings account, but he doesn't make any deposits and keeps his finances separate.
I'm tired of this argument. I've lost my parents, left home, given up my career, moved 1,800 miles in good faith. I want to put down roots in a safe place with my husband. Here, too, I would like to make new memories with my children.
I've made sure that my husband will receive half of my pension for life if he outlives me. Am I wrong in asking to be included on the deed so I can have a home? Should I sell my investment property and end our marriage and move elsewhere? I love my husband. He claims that if I love him I would not ask for that change in fact.
I feel like I am trying to make sure any loose ends are tied up for living real estate planning. I have nothing against the fact that he wants to leave part of his estate to his siblings. I just want to make sure that if I am fortunate enough to have a long life that I am not vulnerable and destitute.
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best
You can email The Moneyist with financial and ethical issues related to the coronavirus to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
Your letter contains legal, financial, and family divisions. The legal one is the easiest to solve and should provide the greatest clarity. If your husband bought his mother's house by marital means – money you earned during your marriage – that house becomes marital property. The way it is, you've used husbands to improve it. Either way, you own it together. On the financial front: don't use your inheritance. As for his family? Their irrational anger has nothing to do with you.
“It is possible that a spouse's special property or the value of that special property could become marital property,” said Cordell Cordell, a domestic litigation firm. "Income and increases in value of the special assets during the marriage can be added to the marital assets if the non-owning spouse can prove that both spouses have made a significant contribution to its maintenance and increase in value."
"He wants you to invest your money and live in a house that has become a toxic dump for all of his family's ailments."
In addition, investing some of your own money in this property would also result in a mingling of assets if it is not matrimonial property. "Intermingling occurs when segregated property becomes 'inseparable' with marital property or the separate property of the other spouse," Cordell adds. "If special assets are treated as marital assets, there is a presumption that the special assets were donated to the marital estate."
A lawyer will advise you on changes to your mother-in-law's previous assets – depending on the type of employment – if you invest part of your own money. Assuming the property does not qualify as a separate property under the law, trust your instincts and avoid pouring your own inheritance – which is separate property – into this home, especially given its troubled history and sense of ownership your siblings have Man about it.
Your husband is unreasonable at best and opportunistic at worst. He probably mistakenly believes that his mother's house is his alone. He falls into the same trap that his siblings fell into: entitlement thinking is not synonymous with actual possession. Your husband wants you to invest your money and live in a house that has become a toxic dump for all his family's ailments. His siblings missed the chance to buy this home.
This is your problem, not yours.
By emailing your questions, you consent to their being posted anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you agree that we may use your story or versions of it in all media and platforms, including through third parties.
Check out Moneyist's private Facebook Group in which we look for answers to life's thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or take part in the latest Moneyist columns.
The moneyist regrets not being able to answer questions one by one.
More from Quentin Fottrell: