Annie’s Mailbox: Gift giving in a blended family
Dear Annie: My husband and I are a blended family with grown stepchildren and grandchildren. His three married kids all have triple-digit incomes and own upscale homes. I have two daughters, neither of whom makes that kind of money.
How do we keep things equal when it comes to gift giving? After all, his children will receive more of our assets compared to mine. How do you make this fair when there are 10 recipients on one side and four on the other? (Don’t even get me started on inheritances.) – Don’t Want My Kids Shortchanged
Dear Don’t: Are these gifts given jointly, or do you spend on your kids and he spends on his? If the former, each child should get gifts of equal value. If the latter, he gets to decide what he spends, and so do you, equal or not. The fact that his children are better off doesn’t mean they should be punished any more than yours should be rewarded for having less.
Please do not let this become an issue of contention with your husband. The partner with the greater income has an obligation to take on a greater share of the financial burden within the marriage, but that does not necessarily extend to grown children and grandchildren. The two of you should talk to an estate planner now about what will happen down the road, and be sure you can accept the outcome.