Navigating wealth and expectations

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Dear Aunty Pam,


I’m 64, divorced once with three adult children, and have remarried. ‘Bill’ is a wonderful, considerate, and generous man. He has worked very hard and is well-to-do, but I’ve never asked him about his finances and brought my own pension and savings into our marriage.

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My youngest son evidently googled Bill and found out he is quite wealthy and is angry with me because I never told him, or my other children, that I was ‘marrying into money’ when they could have all used some financial help. I suspect there’s been sort of pow-wow going on with all three kids because my daughter phoned me to say a friend of hers just lost her parents and probate had been a nightmare, so she was thinking I need to set up a trust ‘to make it easier for all concerned’ when I pass. I told her it’s a bit early, I hope, to worry about that.

Aunty Pam, this has hurt my feelings so much. Setting up a trust is fine—I always planned to do that anyway, and all 3 kids will equally inherit from MY estate, but I can’t help this feeling that they are looking at Bill like vultures. He’s eight years older than me and has children of his own, and IF anything is left to me, I plan to donate to a charity that Bill has long been involved with.

Bill and I will be attending a piano recital of one of my grandchildren (my younger son’s) soon, and we’re all supposed to go out to dinner afterward, but frankly, I really don’t want to go. I haven’t told Bill that my son sent me the angry email about the whole ‘marrying into money’ business, so Bill doesn’t understand my reluctance. He’s so generous that if I told him, he’d pull out his checkbook and ask how much my children need, but that isn’t the point. What should I do?



Bill’s wife


Dear BW,


Greed is a powerful foe. It inhabits world leaders, politicians, and wild animals fighting over the carcass of a downed antelope. But your youngest (and I am QUITE sure you raised him better) is behaving like a horrid child at a party who blows out the candles of someone else’s cake, grabs up the gifts, and snarls, “It’s MY birthday, now!”

I mean, (here come the capital letters because Aunty Pam is quite irked) HOW DARE HE, first of all, assume you married for money and secondly, assume that any of Bill’s finances are ANY of his—or the other kids’—business? Then, to top it off, you should be sharing Bill’s wealth because they ‘could use some financial help?!’

Wifey, a group email is in order where you spell out, very clearly, that you are hurt and offended by their laser focus on Bill’s finances. That they will inherit your estate—unless they continue to show their greedy tendencies, forcing you to leave everything to a parrot sanctuary in Mexico.

And finally, yes, tell Bill what has happened and how you have dealt with it. As a wealthy man, this won’t be his first rodeo with people coming out of the woodwork looking for a payout. And then together, decide how best to handle the recital. Perhaps skip the dinner afterward if things feel awkward. I sincerely hope it doesn’t feel awkward and you can enjoy a meal out as a family—but if it does, just remember: you didn’t start this. Remain civil, order some nice wine, then stick them with the tab.


Cheers, dears!!

Aunty Pam