The Moneyologist: Moneyologist revisited: Did this mother refuse her abusive ex-husband’s inheritance or accept it for her two daughters?

MarketWatch is catching up with some of the most popular and controversial letters of 2016. This is the fourth of six installments.

Earlier this year, Sarah wrote to the Moneyologist with a difficult dilemma. Her estranged abusive husband is in poor health, she expects him to die very soon, and she doesn’t want any of his money. “Do my daughters have to take the property from probate?” she asked. “Can we just tell the state of Oklahoma, “Thanks a lot, but no thanks — you can keep all his stuff!’”

“I divorced my husband 15 years ago because of child abuse he perpetrated on our daughters,” she wrote. “I received sole custody of my then-minor daughters — he lost all custody and visitation because of the abuse. I got a job over 1,000 miles away from my ex, refusing to have anything to do with him.”

‘We were dreading having to deal with the aftermath of his passing: trying to liquidate things, sorting through belongings, having to go back into that house. It all seems emotionally overwhelming. The thought of hiring a probate attorney had not occurred to us. This sounds like a great solution.’

Sarah

I told her to be “absolutely sure” that your daughters won’t need or want any financial assistance in five years’ time to put a deposit down on a house, or even buy one. They could always give some or all of it to a domestic abuse charity, have a whopping big income tax deduction and do some real good with it.

If there is no will and he is not married at the time of his death, they are the people with the legal right to settle his estate, I added. And they do not have to even enter the state to get that done. A lawyer can do it all even as they serve as the administrator of the estate.

And now?

It turns out, she was more upset about having to go through his belongings and didn’t realize that she could hire an attorney to settle his estate and liquidate his assets.

“More than anything else, we were dreading having to deal with the aftermath of his passing: trying to liquidate things, sorting through belongings, having to go back into that house,” she says now. “It all seems emotionally overwhelming. The thought of hiring a probate attorney hadn’t occurred to us. This sounds like a great solution. We can hire an attorney to process any inheritance that comes through probate without us having to physically return and interact with the artifacts.”

And the best part? She’s taking the money. “The proceeds of liquidating any assets can still go to my daughters and they can benefit from any financial gains,” she wrote. “Thank you so much for your answer. It’s helped us to more effectively plan for the future without all the emotional stress.”

The next Moneyologist update comes from the father who stopped all monetary gifts to his family at Thanksgiving. He reveals how his family reacted. You can read his original letter to the Moneyologist here and letter to his family at Thanksgiving telling them there would be no more cash prices here.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyologist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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