My late husband hadn't seen his son in over 30 years. He and his son's mother decided that she would receive a larger share of the property instead of child benefit. He saw his son a few times a year over the next several years, but contact ceased during the teenage years when his son refused to come. They lived in different states. The son is about the same age as my own children, who are in their early forties.
There were no probate proceedings after my husband's death as he did not have separate assets. The house and car were titled in my name because I bought them before remarrying. All of our bank accounts were common even though we treated them as separate accounts. He had no other pension funds than Social Security while I was still working. When I signed my will shortly after my husband's death, the attorney told me that an estate was not necessary as there was nothing to check.
I put together a box of some special items that belonged to my husband – his medals from his time on duty, pictures of him over the years, including some with the son, his watches, etc. – and thought the son might want to them one day. I'm sure the son has no idea my husband moved and remarried, so it's not particularly likely that he will knock on the door one day. My husband's friends once tried to contact me during a health crisis before I met him and the mother refused.
I hate the idea that one day my own kids will just throw these things away because they have no idea what to do with them after I die. I found the son's mother's address online. She is in her mid-70s and has never married again. Would I make a mistake if I sent her the box? I don't want the son to ask for "his share" if nothing else is there for him. However, it can be expensive to hire a lawyer to defend this position. So should I leave it alone well enough?
Do you wanna do the right thing?
Your husband's son has the right to know that his father has passed away regardless of inheritance, photos or other family memorabilia, even if he has not seen his father in over 30 years. Teens can be angry and confused and / or just do their own thing and find their own identity. He may also have been influenced by his mother for declining previous contact attempts, so sending a box of memorabilia to him may not necessarily reach his son.
The money is: I filed a joint tax return with my estranged wife because she's a gambler and her finances are a mess. But I do NOT have a stimulus check – what can I do?
See if you can find his son on Facebook
or in some other way. If that doesn't work, reach out to his mother and tell her that her son's father passed away and that you have some things that you want to send directly to her son since they were together as children. Explain that whatever has happened in the past few years you believe that your late husband loved his son and that you will be available if he would like to know more about his father.
The money is: I did not receive my stimulus check because I owe child benefit back. That's not fair. My stepchildren rely on me – what can I do?
Ideally, it's best to contact him directly and let his mother out of the process completely. You could start with a few photos and a letter if you can get his address. Or you can send copies of the photos and address them to his mother's address in the same letter. If he asks about the inheritance, you can explain this to him and offer to ensure full transparency through a lawyer and / or consider a gift of money.
You are connected by your husband, and sometimes death provides a bridge for those left behind. Who knows? You might even end up as friends one day.
You can email The Moneyist at firstname.lastname@example.org with financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus. Would you like to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns Here.
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