Do I have a moral responsibility to give his girlfriend the money from her life insurance? He never told me he wanted that.
— Split Or Not Split
Split Or Not Split: Using the deceased’s life insurance money to care for his children seems undeniable to me. But asking to set aside the plans of the deceased, which the deceased carried out by means of a contract (that he has to pay regularly or can see regularly taken out of his salary, etc.)? Knowing that means less money for his surviving children? Without providing an anecdote to suggest that is what the deceased wanted? Raised eyebrows, regarding, entitled and/or guilt related grief.
Choose your framing for his behavior as generously as you can, say no and move on. I’m sorry for your loss.
Split Or Not Split: I think you made it clear in that you followed your ex’s wishes as best you could. He didn’t change his life insurance beneficiary to make him a payee, he arranged his estate with his children to get full benefit instead of sharing it with him as a beneficiary, and he didn’t talk to you about hope.
Factors that may have changed my thinking: Has he ever talked to his brother about: “Oh yeah, I need to update this at some point.” If your ex died from an older illness, did your live-in girlfriend do a lot of unpaid treatment before she died? Did he take time off from work for this? Is the boyfriend you live with someone who is very kind or generous with your children? In a way that they consider their family?
Actually, that last one is probably the most important. If it’s a situation where the relationship lasts less time and the kids don’t like him or think he’s good enough but is basically their dad’s girlfriend, that’s one thing. If the relationship lasts longer and the children benefit from it, love her and see her as a de facto stepmother? Then, yes, modeling generosity and looking after one’s family can be important.
Split Or Not Split: I think you’re being generous to even consider sharing life insurance proceeds with your ex’s boyfriend. Life insurance is meant to help with expenses that the deceased would contribute if they were still alive. Your children’s college expenses are expenses your ex will fund. Without their financial assistance, you or your children may face difficulties meeting their college expenses. I don’t think you have a moral obligation to give girlfriend funds. If your ex wants a portion of the proceeds to go to him or her, he or she can certainly revise the distribution of beneficiaries. My guess is your ex and his girlfriend never thought about renewing their life insurance policies. Or, he did, and he still wants the proceeds to help you and the kids.
— Recommended Annual Policy Review
Split Or Not Split: To answer your question, no, you are not morally obligated to split the insurance money with him. Five years isn’t that long, and, perhaps, they haven’t been together all that time. If your ex didn’t think about putting his current girlfriend in his will, why should you? I’ll tell him what you wrote in the letter: The insurance money will go towards raising his three children and his college expenses. I don’t think anyone would consider that to be a senseless use of money.
If you want to be nice, you can give him some of the money, if you don’t think it will harm your children’s future. The children were the most important consideration, as it would be quite hard for them to lose their father.
Split Or Not Split: I don’t believe you have a moral obligation to give her anything. Nonetheless, it may be worth considering and discussing whether he was put under extreme stress by his death. For example, is he unable to pay his rent and facing eviction? If this sort of thing proves to be true, I might consider giving him a fraction of the money to help him find a stable place.
Again, I thought this would be an act of extreme generosity, not an obligation. Unfortunately, it may be generosity without appreciation if she feels she is entitled to more.
Every week, we ask our readers to answer questions sent to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s installment here. New questions are usually posted on Friday, with submission deadline Monday. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.