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I stayed in an Airbnb on my parents’ street for Thanksgiving. It was hell! My mom pleaded with me NOT to write a bad review. What do I do?

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Dear Moneyist,

I didn’t want to put my parents at risk for Thanksgiving, so I booked a house on their street two months ago, and stayed there for six days. My wife and I sequestered for another six days beforehand. We both got COVID-19 tests before we sequestered, which were negative, and drove for seven hours to see my parents. They have been isolated and have not seen many people over the last nine months. It’s been hard for them, so it was worth the trip.

However. This is a big however…

We booked an Airbnb for $900 two houses away from my folks. It belonged to a family that was also visiting their family at Thanksgiving, so it seemed like a slam dunk. Kismet! We couldn’t believe what awaited us: unflushed toilets, dirty dishes in the dishwasher, uneaten food in the refrigerator, they didn’t even empty the waste basket although the instructions asked us to do so when we left. They were nice people, but it took them six hours to respond to one query about the central heating.

Shocked, Very Little Awe

Dear Shocked,

It looks like you happened upon the old “we left in a hurry due to a zombie apocalypse” listing. Time ran out and they ran out the door. You didn’t mention the sheets, so I am assuming they were at least clean. Everyone has a different red line with Airbnbs: an unflushed toilet will do it for some, including the Moneyist, while a “lived in” vibe is more acceptable to others, as long as there are fresh towels and bed linen, and the people are decent and able to receive feedback.

In this case, however, it’s possible that one of their kids said, “Mom, just a minute!” And used the restroom before their seven-hour drive, unbeknownst to their parents. The food in the refrigerator, I could overlook. I’m on the fence, however, about the unemptied garbage. That could have been done the night before. That’s my strategy, then I take whatever I used the following morning with me when I leave, and pop it in a public garbage disposal.

The Moneyist:‘I lost my mom 2 months ago and I’m still in a fog’: My brother and his family moved into her home. They want more than half

In most circumstances, I would say to a family member: “The price of my silence is $900.” But given that we are living in stressful times, and you were doing your parents a great service by visiting them and making sure that you arrived with negative tests results, it would diminish some of that goodwill by leaving a stinker of a review (pardon my pun) after you leave. Your parents live on the street, and they may like these people, and who wants awkwardness on your doorstep?

Leave them some friendly private feedback, thank them for the stay, and move on. The house fulfilled the purpose for which it was intended. You got to see your parents at Thanksgiving, you made them happy, and you did so responsibly. Why stand in hours for a coronavirus test if you’re going to leave your parents in a weird situation with these neighbors? We are living in strange and surreal times. People’s nerves are already shot. Keep your powder dry.

Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch’s Moneyist columnist. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here.

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Video: SEC's Hester Peirce on why the U.S. is behind the curve on crypto

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S.E.C. Commissioner Hester Peirce on the outlook for crypto regulation, and whether this will finally be the year we see a Bitcoin ETF.





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My husband doesn’t get along with my son. I brought most of the wealth into our marriage. How do I split my estate?

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Dear Quentin,

How do couples typically handle their estates in a second marriage? My husband and I have been married for seven years, and it is the second marriage for both of us. I have one adult child from my previous marriage; he has no children.

I brought the majority of our wealth to our marriage, including almost $1 million in my 401(k) and a nice home that is almost paid off; otherwise, we have no debt. My husband and I bought a second home together. We work hard to fund our new 401(k)s, and own a successful business together.

I am turning 65 this year, so estate planning is long overdue. My husband is five years younger than me, and we are both in very good health. We have two issues facing us: I see our retirement as living very comfortably on the monthly income generated by our 401(k)s, pension, Social Security, etc., and leaving whatever may be left to my son.


‘The other issue is that my husband no longer gets along with my dear son at all, and feels no obligation to get along with him.’

I am not interested in scrimping, but I want to be able to have enough money to last us until age 90 (or beyond) by not touching the principal. My husband is more interested in dipping deep into our savings, and living it up in retirement while we are young enough to enjoy it.

The other issue is that my husband no longer gets along with my dear son at all, and feels no obligation to get along with him, to the point that neither one wants anything to do with the other. As far as he is concerned, my son doesn’t meet his expectations, and so deserves nothing from me and certainly nothing from him.

I want my estate planning to be fair to both my new husband and my son. How do people typically handle this type of quandary? I think that I need to create some type of trust to pass on my share of our estate to my son. My pre-marriage assets involved my son as I pursued my graduate degree through night school and worked long hours throughout his childhood.

Second Wife

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com.

Dear Second Wife,

Don’t allow your husband’s feelings toward your son to influence your estate planning.

Your relationships with your husband and your son and your own plans for retirement are all fair game when making decisions about your estate, but your husband and son’s fractured relationship is their business, not yours. You worked hard for this money, and your son is your legal heir. Any effort by your husband to spend all of your savings and fritter away any inheritance that you intended to leave to your son should be resisted at all costs.

You have worked too hard your entire life to compromise your plans for a comfortable retirement where you have money set aside for long-term medical care insurance, unforeseen emergencies and/or your son. If you jointly own your home, you can leave your half to your son in your will, and specify it can only be sold after your husband passes away.

If you own the home, you can give your husband a life estate. Your son would pay capital-gains tax on the value of your home when he sells it, and not when you bought it. You could also make your son the beneficiary on your life-insurance policy, and/or gift him a certain amount of money per year to see how he manages and spends that money.

Figure out what is fair to yourself first before moving on to what is fair to your husband and your son. It’s OK to put your needs first. I caution against your dipping into savings at a rate that is beyond your own risk tolerance.

Ultimately, you are entitled to leave all other separate property to your son when you die — and, along with a financial adviser, set up a trust with that in mind for you, your husband and your son. Not necessarily in that order.

The Moneyist: ‘I cut his hair because he won’t pay for a haircut’: My multimillionaire husband is 90. I’ve looked after him for 41 years, but he won’t help my son

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These money and investing tips can help you make a place for crypto in your portfolio

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Don’t miss these top money and investing features:

These money and investing stories, popular with MarketWatch readers over the past week, can give you a better understanding of bitcoin and other cyrptocurrency, and help you figure out if digital currency has a place in your portfolio alongside stocks, bonds and other traditional assets.

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