Writing a Will: How to Determine Who Gets What

Dear Dave,

My husband works two hours away from home. He gets up at 3 a.m. and doesn’t get home until 7 p.m. We have a fully funded emergency fund, and he makes $95,000 a year. My parents’ place is an hour from his job, and they’ve offered to let us live with them. What do you think of this idea?


Dear Jessica,

Why don’t you just sell the house and move closer to where he works? If he makes that kind of money and you’ve got your emergency fund in place, you should be able to handle moving costs. I’ve got to be honest, I’d do the two hours to work and two hours home drive maybe once before I’d begin seriously looking for a place much closer.

Right now, you guys don’t have a life. And moving in with your parents wouldn’t be much better. That poor guy practically lives on the road, and I’m sure you both want more quality time together. He sounds like a great guy, though, to be willing to go through all that. He’s busting his tail and doing what it takes to provide for his family, but there’s just no reason for either of you to go through this kind of pain and inconvenience.

Get your house on the market, and find a little rental near his job for now. You can rebuild part of your emergency fund if necessary, but if I’m in your shoes, I’m going to fix this logistical nightmare as fast as humanly possible!


Dear Dave,

My husband and I need to update our will, but we’re not sure how to divide the money. All of our children are grown, including my three stepsons. The problem is that two of my stepsons are irresponsible with money and are drug users. Do you have any advice?


Dear Colleen,

Typically, if you give money to a drug user they’ll use it for one thing: drugs. Your goal as a parent is to love them and teach them to the best of your ability. Buying their drugs upon your death doesn’t fall into either of those categories. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you deciding not to leave them any money as long as they’re involved in this kind of activity.

If it were me, I’d have a reading of the will when the changes are made. Then, I’d sit down with the family members and explain why you’ve updated the will in this manner. Let them know you love them and want what’s best for them, but you and your husband have decided you’re not going to take a chance on funding any misbehavior on their part.

Make sure you let them know, too, that things can change if they change. They might be mad and fuss about it, but that’s okay. Let them be mad. It’s perfectly all right for you to attach stipulations to any inheritance they might receive, especially when it’s for their own good!


* For more financial help, please visit daveramsey.com.