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Fiance's parent's retirement (need advice)

  1. Oct 17, 2011 #1
    I'm dealing with a situation where my fiance's parents are not setup for retirement at all and I'm afraid that it's going to fall back on us to be paying for all of the expenses throughout their retirement. Her mother is 48 and doesn't have a job. She doesn't speak english so it's very difficult for her at the moment. My fiance is paying some of her bills every month, about $300 a month, but she doesn't make much in the first place. I don't know how long she's planning on doing this. Her dad doesn't make much at his job, but has a small 401k. Right now we can pretty much count on their parents saving up nothing for retirement.

    If her parents don't do anything for their retirement is it going to break our bank? I don't think her dad has a will or life insurance and he has health problems from being a longtime alcoholic.

    What can we do to make this affordable? As the future spouse, what is expected of me? What is fair to ask of me? She said that she wants her mother to live with us in the future. I told my fiance that her mother needs to try and get a job for now and she agrees to an extent. I think her dad needs to get life insurance and complete a will. Is there anything else we can do? They'll have social security at 67. Are there any types of insurance other than life that we should look at? I don't know if they have health insurance or not. Her dad has been putting this stuff off to the side. And he gets defensive when she brings it up with him. We are both overseas so she has been talking to her parents over the phone from time to time.

    When I bring up this issue it's always a hot topic and can easily flame an argument between the two of us. She get's very personal and defensive. She's told me that it's her family and that she'll worry about it. But I told her that this will have an effect on both our lives, so I should be allowed to worry.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2011 #2


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    As the future spouse, whether you mean you or her, half of the family's assets belong to each. At any time, one of you could decide to end the marriage, divide up the assets 50/50 (approximately), and do whatever they want with their half, including shipping a portion of their share to their family.

    Or, assuming they don't go to that extreme, they could ship off a portion of your family's assets to their relatives and your choices would be:

    a) Well, I guess each of us have just contributed to her family's welfare 50/50 and I'm fine with that.

    b) Get mad, file for divorce, and bring up to the court that she siphoned off joint assets to her family, so the portion she sent off would come out of her share instead of both your shares. (This would only work if you filed for divorce as soon as she sent money to her family. You wait and it's assumed you initially chose option a and are now crying about your decision after the fact.)

    This is not a matter of being fair to you or fair to her. It's not a matter of one giving in to the other's desires even when they'd rather not. It's not a matter of one's desires being more noble than other or one's desires being more sensible than the other.

    This is a matter where the two of you have to be in agreement about how you want to handle both your own future and the future of your parents. If the two of you don't have the same attitude about those issues, then the differences will constantly recur over and over throughout your relationship - for however long that lasts.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2011
  4. Oct 23, 2011 #3


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    I would say cut your losses now and find another fiance. That will be much cheaper (financially and emotionally) than cutting your losses later.

    Blood is thicker than water. You are never going to feel the same way about this as your fiance does, any more than she would feel the same way as you about your own family.

    It you aren't happy to just go along with it now, don't expect your feelings are going to change if/when it the situation stops being hypothetical and starts being real.

    I don't think you have any "right" to tell another family (probably with values based on the culture of a different country) how to live their lives, just beause you want to marry their daughter.
  5. Oct 25, 2011 #4
    Sadly, I think this is a good answer. If you find it difficult to talk about important money/family issues... how will it become easier? What other differences will come up along the same lines (perhaps if you have children -- especially regarding religious upbringing differences if they exist).

    At the least, I think you need to get some serious pre-martial counseling and make sure to discuss this topic, with the counselor needed as mediator.
  6. Oct 29, 2011 #5
    I think I may have painted the picture more negative than it really is. Thank you for your advice, but I think the good things outweigh the difficult. All relationships have difficulties that they have to overcome and we've been pretty good at it. I'm no longer concerned about this financial situation. I realized that things will pan themselves out as they always do. Family helps family, there's nothing wrong with that.
  7. Oct 29, 2011 #6

    Jonathan Scott

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    Pre-martial? There's a difference between marriage and war (at least in some cases).
  8. Oct 29, 2011 #7


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    I agree with the Physics Gurl. If important issues cannot be calmly discussed and resolved before marriage, how can they possibly be addressed after making that marriage commitment? Making a binding commitment (and sharing of resources) before addressing such issues would be reckless. We all need to plan for our retirements and take care of our own expenses, so as not to be a burden on our descendants. If your fiance's parents are looking at you and her as their social/financial safety net, that is a big warning sign.
  9. Nov 4, 2011 #8
    you're speaking from an American p-o-v. In some places, the idea is that you take care of your parents. why shouldn't you be a financial safety net for your parents? Can you live your life in peace and happiness knowing your parents are suffering financially?

    when you marry someone their parents become your parents and vice versa. He has to worry about his fiance's parents as if they were his own and she has to worry about his parents as if they were her own.
  10. Nov 4, 2011 #9
    Not in America. they ship their elderly into retirement homes and sometimes even forget about them. :rolleyes:

    You're doing the right thing, bro. My advice is, try and save money now the best way you can. Don't buy any unnecessary things. Even with your wedding, don't do something financially fancy. Save, save, save, and save!!
  11. Nov 4, 2011 #10
    from his post, I can conclude that him and his fiance come from two different cultures. With that in mind, I'm sure he was and is aware of the intermixing of the two culture before the woman became his fiance. You don't become someone's fiance overnight. He's most likely thought about differences in religious beliefs, culture and how that will affect their children's upbringing.

    It's okay and it's normal for a couple to have disagreements. Issue's like these come up all the time. And try and consider the situation from the girl's point of view as-well. She might feel like her family's needs are being a burden to her relationship hence her telling the OP that it's her family and she should deal with it. OP is dealing with the situation correctly.
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