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Woman Refuses To Use Late Husband’s Life Insurance To Pay For Estranged Stepkids’ College

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When a parent remarries, it’s not always a smooth road to building a strong, loving family dynamic with the new person.

In many cases, developing that trust can take quite awhile. In fact, sometimes the new person is never fully let in at all.

A recent post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit illustrated the lengths to which those difficulties can go.

The Original Poster (OP), under the anonymous name Few_Kangaroo_4847, used the post’s title to explain how the situation culminated.

“AITA For Not Paying For My Stepchildren’s College?”

OP began with some backstory. 

“I [49-year-old female] have two stepchildren ‘Leo’ [19-year-old male] and ‘Adam’ [17-year-old male]. I entered their lives when they were 7 and 5 and despite my efforts they never warmed up to me.”

“I wasn’t trying to be their ‘mom’ but just another loving parental figure.”

“They told their dad how much they didn’t like me when told them that we were engaged and told my husband that they didn’t want him to get married.”

Further attempts were made.

“Their dad reassured them that they would always be a big part of his life and asked them to give me a chance. We even went to their mother for help but she refused.”

“They refused to come to the wedding and wouldn’t spend the holidays with their dad if I was there.”

OP was forced to roll with it. 

“I was hurt over it for a very long time but eventually grew to accept that this is how things were going to be and just tried to focus on my own children.”

“Although my husband always held out hope that one day we could all be one big happy blended family.”

Then a sudden event led to a major shift.

“Tragically my husband passed away in an accident. It was hard and after the funeral Leo and Adam never reached out to us again.”

“They barely acknowledged their half-siblings ([9-year-old male] and [9-year-old female]) at family events with my husband’s side of the family and I was sad for them.”

OP has managed to move on. 

“Fast forward to now and my niece, SIL’s daughter, is going to college and I agreed to give her $30,000 after sophomore year.”

“My husband loved his sister and niece so I was more than happy to do it.”

But the boys have not. 

“Word got back to Leo and Adam and they learned that their father had a huge life insurance policy that I was the sole beneficiary of plus my side business is now turning over a sizable profit.”

“They reached out to me angry that I was hoarding their father’s money and threatening to sue if I didn’t tell them how much I got and get half.”

“I was upset but calmly explained to them that 1) Life insurance isn’t the same as an inheritance so they had no legal claim to it 2) When I initially received the pay out I gave some to their mom to hold on to them until they were of age.”

“They didn’t believe me until I sent them proof and apparently their mom used the money to cover living costs and there was nothing left for them.”

OP put her foot down. 

“Since I used some of the insurance money to fund my business MIL is asking me to pay for Leo and Adam to go to school, but I don’t want to.”

“They literally haven’t spoken to me in years and the first time they do it’s to demand money. MIL asked me to think of my own children and how Leo and Adam may take out their resentment towards me on them.”

“If that’s the case then I don’t care to foster a relationship between them AITA?”

OP apparently received responses asking for some more information, so she obliged. 

“I keep seeing this so I’ll add it in here”

“The Life Insurance policy was through my husband’s job and I was automatically named. My husband could’ve changed it but didn’t get around to it.”

“While my step children were never named in the policy there was always an understanding between us that I would give up some of the money to help Leo and Adam out, which is why I gave it to their mom.”

“No there wasn’t an official will but it was my husband’s intention to make one once he turned 60, but he died in his late 40s.”

“As for Survivor’s Benefits I can’t say if Leo and Adam got some since their mom and them never talked to me, and I never received anything in the mail about it. I’m guessing their mom took the money I gave her and didn’t think that she would need anything else.”

And then she shared even more information. 

“Again, keep seeing this as well so I’ll comment here”

“While I don’t feel comfortable giving the exact amount, I will say that I gave their mother around 40% of the overall policy. It’s the same amount that I saved for my children, while keeping 20% for myself as the spouse. Part of my 20% is what I used to start my business.”

“I didn’t put the money into a trust for them because I trusted that their mom would do what she thought was best for them and didn’t bother to keep tabs on it.”

“Up until they called me I didn’t know my stepchildren didn’t have money for college.”

“Neither my husband or I had wills at the time because we thought we were both too young for those, but since his passing I have made one for myself.”

“My stepchildren are welcome to try but I doubt that they can sue me for anything because most of my husband’s savings went to paying funeral costs and any debts he had prior to his death. The house we lived in was a gift from my side of the family with the condition that it would be solely in my name.”

“I also love SIL’s daughter and have a relationship with her which is one of the reasons why I’ll be giving her $30,000. It won’t take care of all of her expenses but it is a good start.”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Most Redditors assured OP that she had nothing to worry about. They confirmed that she was not the a**hole. 

“Nta. Leo and adam are already resenting their half siblings. Plus you already gave money to their mother for the but she used it all.”

“Your money your choice. You owe them nothing.” — jasemina8487

“NTA. They haven’t spoken to you in years, they barely acknowledge their half-siblings, you literally gave their mom money for them… why would they think they are ridiculous to think they are entitled to more money for college.” — wordsinotherwords

“NTA. I’m assuming your husband had a say in who the beneficiary of his insurance policy would be. He could have chosen his sons, but he chose you. By passing on some of that money to their mother, you did good by them.”

“If you were moved to give money to your niece, that was through generosity, not obligation. You shouldn’t feel obligated to now give more to people who have done nothing to build a familial bond with you.” — petty-thief-lout

“NTA. They are bitter, entitled and would never have come knocking if there weren’t money to be had. There is no threat to their relationship with your children, because there is no relationship.” — thebabes2

“NTA, with a side of ‘good lord, are you ever not the asshole, I’m sad that you even felt the need to ask’.”

“You gave almost half the insurance money to stepchildren who hated you, in care of their own mother. Despite the fact that it was solely in your name.”

“You’d have been perfectly within rights to keep every penny and invest it all in your business—after all, one of the big purposes of life insurance is income replacement, if you lose one of the household’s income sources.”

“Sure, in theory you could have kept tabs on it better, and if the sum was into the millions it might have been wise. But if it was a typical workplace policy, the amount you gave was probably $100k or so (if even that), which doesn’t typically justify any kind of formal accounting.”

“I’m a financial advisor, and I see blended families from time to time. And while there’s a bunch of different ways of dealing with it, one common suggestion we ask clients to consider is giving money to their own partner in a trust at death (instead of giving it outright), so that their money can go to their own kids and not to the kids of their second spouse.”

“These issues get thorny as hell, because getting everyone on the same page is genuinely hard. But if they all acted like you, it’d be a lot easier.” ~ Alsadius

“You gave them 40%, the same as what you saved for the children you had together, and that’s not enough?”

“They need to be angry at their mom not you.” ~ Economist-Future

“NTA. It also sounds like it was a case of parental estrangement on their mom’s part.”

“You already gave them 40% of the policy, which is more than they’re entitled to, but their mom blew it away. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

“Please stand firm and take care of yourself and your own children first and foremost.” ~ Xynic

“NTA. They made their choice, repeatedly at that rate, and you are not obligated to give them anything now.”

“But I would highly suggest making a will for yourself dedicating your goods and money to people who *care* about you, so that they don’t claim some by-marriage-we’re-due line in a court should you pass.” ~ Seventeen_Serpents

“NTA. The real question is who gassed your stepsons up to sue you? You gave their mom a share of your late husband’s life insurance so that she can do right by them.”

“Their mom chose to blow it. They’re mad at the wrong person.”

“Also, I used to sell life insurance. You’re correct about it not working the same as an inheritance.” ~ rokudaime6

“Doesn’t seem to me that you are under any legal or moral obligation to take care of two bundles of ingratitude.”

“Their mom blew the money and that is all on her.” ~ Greyswand

“40% is more than generous if your own children recieved this amount!”

“The issue lies with their mother if she hasn’t saved anything for them! NTA.” ~ LivelyUnicorn

“NTA his kids are not your problem. Especially if they were disrespectful and didn’t treat you well.”

“Those aren’t your kids unless you legally adopted them. Do NOT give those brats anything.”

“You already gave money to their mother, and if you have legal proof of that then you’re fine. They can sue their mom.”

“You already did your part. They aren’t entitled to ANYTHING anymore.”

“You don’t have to speak to his side of the family either. You can let the kids see their grandma but I don’t think they can make you.” ~ Fml101504

“Absolutely NTA. You already gave their mother more than a fair share of the money.”

“You owe them nothing more than that. It is not on you that she chose to spend it on other things than college.” ~ Melin_Lavendel_Rosa

“If your step kids would treat their half siblings poorly because you wouldn’t give them money they probably aren’t treating them nicely to begin with.”

“Cut these people out of your life, don’t give them anything. If you do you will regret it later. You don’t owe them anything, save it for your kids and future grandkids.” ~ Mr-Waspers1945

“NTA – but this is a great reason why I am in support of parents who are divorced keep a Life Insurance Policy w/their minor children as beneficiaries to cover expected child support. Once they are 18 you can change the beneficiary if needed.”

“You already gave the mom their inheritance. If she spent it already too bad.”

“It was probably used to raise them. Parents are not obligated to pay for college.” ~ hope1083

Looks like OP can rest easy that she owes absolutely nothing to the two young men who kicked her to the curb more times than she can count.

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.