Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wife wants to change will to support church

DEAR HARRY: We are a retired couple in our late 70s. In the last year or two, my wife has become obsessed with a local, very charismatic preacher.

She has told me that she wants to change her will and leave her half of our assets to his church when she dies. We are not wealthy, but we are quite comfortable.

Our only child is a daughter who is financially OK, but has health problems. I want our money to go to her, but my wife insists that changing her will would mean better health for our child, because we will be supporting her church.

We own everything in joint names. I don't know how to convince her otherwise. Do you?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: It is very difficult for me to get involved in faith. Many people are so taken with a particular leader that virtually nothing else matters. This appears to be your wife's situation, and I would not know how or if to try to change her mind.

You may be in luck, because assets jointly held by husband and wife automatically go to the surviving spouse despite a will to the contrary.

Unless she separates those assets before her death, the church bequest is meaningless. I am firmly of the opinion that making gifts in the hope of some miracle resulting is a fruitless quest. I hate to think of the potential consequences if you should die first.

My vote: daughter first.


Email Harry Gross at harrygrossDN@gmail.com, or write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107. Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.

Harry Gross Daily News Personal Finance Columnist
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