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I married my husband 20 years in the past. He has four children and I’ve 1 baby. I paid for our dwelling. Who ought to inherit it after we’re gone?

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Dear Moneyist,

Twenty years ago, at the age of 60, I was married to my second husband. He has four grown children, I have one. When we got married, we lived in my apartment, which we later sold to buy a new home. Most of the purchase price came from my condo sales and inheritance savings, but my husband contributed several thousand dollars. We have mostly shared our living expenses and kept separate bank accounts.

A few years ago we had prepared our will and agreed that if we died or died, the house would be sold, with half of the sale being shared among his children and half going to my child. My conscience sometimes tells me that the house sale should be divided equally among our children. However, since it was mostly my money that bought the house, I think it’s fair. Please give me your thoughts.

JK

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Dear JK,

I have received several letters over the years about the division of a family home, and some have been more complicated than others. For example, in this scenario, a couple wondered how to divide their home between their three children and the man’s three children from a previous marriage. I suggested that they divide the cake in 9 ways and give their children two slices each. When I replied to her letter, I thought that was the most meticulous – or sullen – of the options they face, but now I believe that this was too tough and that it was among the fairest.

Their position, as much as it might be viewed as one, is somewhat simpler. Not only did they choose the fairest option, they also compromised on what is known as the “compromise price effect” of retailers. You actually had three options instead of two: the most generous for your own child (they get the house minus the initial investment and other costs), the medium option (the one you chose), and the least generous for your child own child (you share the house equally between your child and your husband’s three children).

The money is: My son inherited money after his father was killed in an accident. One woman volunteered with another legal heir. What now?

There’s a lot of academic research – like this study by the Journal of Marketing Research by marketing professors at Yale University and Stanford University – showing the middle option as a “compromise” for consumers. When people have three tips to choose from – say 20%, 25%, or 30% – they are more likely to opt for the middle option, even if it’s above the traditional 20% city taxi rides at the Booth School, according to an analysis of 13 million New Yorkers of Business from the University of Chicago, published in the American Economic Journal.

So I agree with your decision. It may be smarter to put your home in a trust. If your husband died prematurely, he might decide to change his mind. But as for your decision on how to divide your home, I agree with your decision together. Your husband’s children receive a gift as well as an inheritance. Your own child would have had a greater inheritance if you had not remarried. In this way you recognize and appreciate both contributions and ensure that no one is forgotten in the will. As Kristen Wiig’s “Target Lady” says, “Approved!”

The money is: My mother’s husband has died. Her savings dwindle, but she pays my sister’s bills. Should i intervene?

You can email The Moneyist at qfottrell@marketwatch.com with financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus

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