Am I Selfish if I Don’t Split My Inheritance With My Husband?

Dear Penny,

I inherited a large amount of money and half of a house from a maternal relative. There are several bank accounts, which I intend to draw an income from until I fully retire and collect Social Security and my pensions. Another account will pay for medical insurance for my husband and myself once I leave my job.

I told my husband that, should I die, the house will go to my brothers and stay in my maternal family. I also told him that the beneficiaries set up on the bank accounts include him, two of my brothers, and my 86-year -old mother.

He then said that if he were getting an inheritance, he would be sharing that with me and not me and his siblings and mother. But his parents signed over their house to his sister, and he was OK with that, so he is not getting any inheritance from his parents.

I told him that unless I die in the next five years, he has and will share a major portion of the money. If I don’t die, I will be drawing an income from the bank accounts, which will go into other joint accounts , and paying for medical insurance for the two of us.

I also just paid off the last one-third of our mortgage with a chunk of the inheritance. Mind you, I paid for half of the two-thirds of the house that has already been paid off. I thought that was pretty selfish of him to say. Am I wrong?


Dear R.,

Two reasonable people can disagree on whether you should split an inheritance with a spouse. So I don’t think either of you is necessarily in the wrong here.

Of course, it’s easy for your husband to say he’d split his non-existent inheritance with you. But all 50 states recognize inheritances as separate property, which means it belongs solely to the spouse who received the gift.

It probably makes sense to keep the house you’re inheriting in the family, particularly if it has sentimental value. I’m curious about motivation for splitting your inherited bank accounts four ways, as you’re planning. Are…

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