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Life Insurance

When Your Spouse Is a Moocher

Don't throw off your financial responsibilities. Plus, ways to divide your estate fairly.

My husband and I have three young children, and he doesn't think we need much life insurance. Why? Because two of my siblings are wealthy, and they'll probably take our kids in and provide for them if something happens to us. What do you think?

Your husband might be correct about the fate of your children (especially if you have named these siblings as guardians in your will), but he has the mentality of a moocher. A key tenet of ethical living is taking responsibility for yourself and your dependents. You should plan for the security of your own family as best you can, and not put that burden on others.

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I'm an elderly widow and I'm reviewing my will. My children are all responsible adults whom I love dearly. My sons pursued careers that don't pay much, but my daughter has achieved considerable wealth in hers. Would it be okay to leave my whole estate to the boys?

Many people do divide their estates according to their heirs' needs, taking care to explain their reasoning in their wills and expressing love and respect for each child. If you do this, consider leaving your daughter several things of great personal value, as tokens of your affection. You could also designate a bequest in her honor to one or more charities she supports.

Have a money-and-ethics question you'd like answered in this column? Write editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at ethics@kiplinger.com.