This Redditor needs help figuring out how to handle his estate when he dies. Is it acceptable to give his biological daughter 90% while he only leaves 10% for his stepson?
Financial and Moral Dilemma
OP (Original Poster) has an estate in the low eight figures. Because he remarried six years before this story was posted, he is now in the process of revisiting his estate plan.
He mentioned that he had a dilemma on what to leave his biological child versus his stepchild once he passes away.
Not Really Siblings
OP’s biological daughter is 28, while his stepson is 25. They are not very close, as they live far away from each other.
They also don’t spend much time together, nor did they grow up together.
Not a Dad in Any Sense
He said that he “clearly did not raise his stepson.” In turn, his stepson also never lived with them at all.
OP wrote, “I don’t really know my stepchild very well as he has always been living elsewhere. He’s a nice young man, but I have not had any influence on his development or life, and still don’t have much since he’s an adult and mostly on his own.”
His stepson still asked for a “little financial help” here and there because he was still in the process of trying to get on his own two feet. On the other hand, OP’s biological daughter is financially independent and “completely on her own.”
OP then explained that he’d accumulated most of his assets before he remarried. Because of this, he “does not feel a strong obligation” to leave much or the majority of his estate to his stepson.
An Idea Brewing in His Mind
OP planned to split his estate 90/10. He planned on giving 10% to his stepson, leaving 90% to his biological daughter once his second wife passes, if there is anything left.
An Unfair Split?
OP noted that many people would think it’s “lopsided” or unfair. However, to give better context, he said that for every $1,000,000 left, his stepson would get $100,000.
A Generous Amount
He said he believes it’s already a “very generous” offer.
OP pointed out that this was already a significant amount, considering his stepson has not been in his life long. He also continued to have no influence on his stepson’s life and had no role in his upbringing.
Not His Responsibility
OP further clarified that he is not responsible regarding anything involving his stepson.
He said, “My wife makes the decisions regarding her son, and therefore I really have no say in anything related to him.”
No Obligation, Either
He also added that there was “legally no obligation” for a parent to leave anything in their estate to a stepchild. In the same way, stepchildren do not have rights to their stepparent’s estate.
OP could also update the will and the ratio if he felt differently about things later.
On the flip side, OP’s wife doesn’t have much to her estate.
OP wrote, “She has a condominium that she would leave to her son and would not be designating anything in her will to go to my child. I’m okay with that.”
Now OP’s wondering if he’s an “a**hole” for the ratio split he has chosen.
He said, “The action I took was to split the estate lopsided with a lot more going to my biological child than my stepchild. I could be perceived as being an a**hole because I’m cheating my stepchild.”
The Community’s Take on the Matter
Users validated OP’s thoughts, saying there was nothing wrong with giving his biological child more. However, they advised him not to leave the estate to his second wife.
“Not the a**hole. But please don’t leave your entire fortune to your current wife. That would leave your child with nothing,” advised one Redditor.
Another agreed and said, “Yep. There’s nothing stopping her from flipping the ratio, so her son gets 90%, etc. Decide now exactly what your daughter gets upon your death and put it in a legally binding document. And let the daughter and wife know up front so there are no surprises.”
The Fairest Route
Some brought up another option, saying OP should split the estate evenly between his second wife and his biological daughter, as this was the fairest option.
This Redditor said, “I would go with leaving the biological child 50% and wife 50% in trust—with the trust split between the biological child and the stepchild at the wife’s death.”
Another commented, “This 100% is the fairest. In the unfortunate circumstance you both went, I think setting up her son with something is a great gesture to help him as she would want, but 90/10 is very fair.”
What advice would you give OP? What would you tell him to do?
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This post first appeared as He Refused to Split His Eight-Figure Estate Between His Daughter and His Stepson Evenly. He Had No Say in His Upbringing, so He’s Not His “Dad.” Is He Cheating Him? on Quote Ambition.