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‘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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My husband and I are both on our second marriage, and we have been married for 41 years. He has three sons from his previous marriage, and I have a son and a daughter. He inherited the property where we built our house 40 years ago. He set up a charitable remainder trust and currently has $6 million in it.

He is in the process of selling the additional 50 acres for about $2 million, which he intends to put in the trust. He has set it up for our children and me to get a percentage after he dies. He is 90 years old and in excellent health. I am 76, and I am having some health problems. I think that he will outlive me.

The problem is that I need some of the money now. My son (his stepson) was in a car wreck and needs help. He has had seven surgeries over the past two years, and is going to have a hip replacement this week. When that heals, he has to have a shoulder replacement.


‘His sons won’t let him live with them. They would put him in a nursing home.’

His wife had brain surgery a couple of years ago to stop her epileptic seizures, but she has lost her short-term memory. She also started having seizures again, and her doctor told her she could never go back to work as a registered nurse. They are clearly in need of financial help.

My husband has helped them this past year, but he resents it, and does not continue to help them. I called a divorce attorney about possibly taking him to court to dissolve our marriage, and he said that I would be entitled to half of my husband’s assets. However, I’m not even on the deed of our house.

I would not be able to live with him, even if I just filed for separate maintenance. He’s hard enough to live with to begin with, but this will break my heart. I have taken care of him for 41 years. He just gives me barely enough to pay our bills. I cut his hair because he won’t pay for a haircut.

His sons won’t let him live with them. They would put him in a nursing home, but he’s too healthy to end up in a nursing home, and has all of his mental faculties. I don’t know what to do and would like your advice. I bet that you have never heard from anyone who has too much money.

Wife & Mother

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

Dear Wife,

The issue with your son seems like the proverbial last straw. My suspicion is there have been many such straws over the years, both big and small, that were contenders for the last straw, but they were superseded by another straw, and another.

It’s not just about the money. He is under no obligation to pay for your son, but you clearly see this as an act of disrespect toward you and your own family, given that they have been dealing with the aftermath of a car accident.

Why cut his hair when you feel such resentment for him? Why have you remained married? Because you love each other and/or there is a power imbalance in your relationship, and a significant financial disparity. You must be equals. Otherwise, there is a price on every act of kindness.


There is a trade-off: Endure the current unpleasantness and feeling of powerlessness, or stand up to your husband with all the unpleasantness that entails.

So what now? Your social contract may already have been broken, even if your marriage contract has not. The stress you feel is, perhaps, the work you put into acting like the foundation of your marriage is solid when it is not. State your needs and what you require within this marriage to make it work.

In fairness to your husband, he has already helped your son out. He could feel used and put upon. Explain to him that you are partners in this marriage, you have a right to make your own decisions about money, and you need more autonomy over your joint finances.

There is a trade-off: Endure the current unpleasantness and feeling of powerlessness, or stand up to your husband with all the unpleasantness that entails. If you opt for legal action and file for a legal separation, it should not come as a surprise, and you should both know the reasons why.

Boyd Law, a California law firm, offers some cautionary and helpful words for people in your situation: “After a party legally separates, they are no longer a ‘community.’ From this point on, each party’s accumulated assets and debts are his/her own, and not shared properties.”


There are advantages to separating your financial lives without divorcing, whether or not you are still living under the same roof.

“To protect your assets during a legal separation and/or divorce, make the date of separation clear between you and your ex-spouse,” the law firm adds. “Making the date of separation apparent while still living together can be tricky. You will need evidence of your separation that you can show to the court.”

Boyd Law says the clearer you make this date, the better. “To accomplish this, start living as separately as possible under the same roof. Live in different rooms, don’t prepare each other’s meals or do each other’s laundry, stop wearing wedding rings, and use separate bank accounts.”

There are advantages to separating your financial lives without divorcing, whether or not you are still living under the same roof. You share expenses and still benefit from shared medical insurance, for instance. Ultimately, it is a decision only you can make. It’s your life, your choice.

You regard cutting his hair not as an act of love, but as an act of service. That suggests the problems here run deeper than separate versus marital assets, and who does and does not control them. But I agree with you: One person in a marriage should not hold all the cards.

The Moneyist: ‘My husband told me that my $1,400 stimulus check will be spent on aluminum siding on our home.’ What can I do?

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These money and investing tips can help you stay upright against the market’s headwinds

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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 greater knowledge about the financial markets’ current condition as you monitor your portfolio and plan ahead. Plus, check out several short videos about whether to include bitcoin and other cryptocurrency in your portfolio and how to go about it if you do.

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Opinion: I took advantage of the 2020 RMD rule but now my 1099-R looks wrong — what should I do?

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Q: I took advantage of the 2020 RMD rule and returned what I had taken from my IRA thinking there would be no taxes. I just got a 1099-R showing the full RMD. That can’t be right. How do I correct it?

—Pauline

A.: Pauline,

If the 1099-R is incorrect, you will need to contact the firm that issued the statement to get it corrected. However, the 1099-R is probably correct.

Read: Are there new RMD rules this year?

Under the law, the firm issuing the 1099-R has no responsibility for reporting how much of a distribution is taxable. That responsibility rests on your shoulders as a taxpayer. The issuing firm need only report what was paid out of the IRA on 1099-R.

Not sure where to retire? Let us help you find the right spot

That does not mean you will pay any tax. Any funds returned to the IRA by Aug. 31, 2020 is considered a rollover and is not taxable. Normally, Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) are not eligible for rollover, but IRS guidance after enactment of the CARES Act that waived RMD for 2020 changed that. The guidance stated the normal 60-day time limit for rollovers would not apply and instead instituted a fixed deadline of Aug. 31, 2020 to return such distributions and avoid taxation.

Read: It’s not too late to save on your 2020 tax bill — here’s how

I get similar questions about 1099-Rs every year. The reporting of the gross distribution looks like an error but in most cases, it is correct and the person receiving it simply hasn’t learned how it is accounted for yet.

Here’s how the accounting typically works.

As with any gross amount reported on Form 1099-R, you declare the amount that is not taxable when you file your 2020 tax return. What I hear most tax preparers would do in your situation is put the gross distribution amount from 1099-R on line 4a as per the normal procedure. Then, they would place a zero in 4b of your Form 1040, and put a note on the return near those lines that it was “returned to the IRA under the CARES Act,” “CARES Act rollover,” “CARES Act,” or simply “Rollover.”

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If you did not return all of distribution by the deadline, the portion that was not returned would be taxable. You would put that number on line 4b.

Read: 5 things to do if you inherit a Roth IRA

As I mentioned a moment ago, the discrepancy between the gross distribution reported and what should actually be taxable comes up in other situations. Three of the most common are other rollovers, Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD), and distributions from accounts that had received after-tax contributions.

In all those cases, the reporting process looks like what I described above. You put the gross distribution on line 4a and the taxable portion on Line 4b. Then note why the numbers are different with “rollover,” “QCD,” or “See Form 8606” on the 1040. Form 8606 is the form used to determine the taxable amount of an IRA distribution when nondeductible contributions have been made to any of one’s IRA accounts.

If you have a question for Dan, please email him with ‘MarketWatch Q&A’ on the subject line.

Dan Moisand’s comments are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for personalized advice. Consult your adviser about what is best for you. Some questions are edited for brevity.



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Video: Why Mike Novogratz sees bitcoin reaching $500,000 by 2024

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Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz explains the outlook for crypto as Coinbase goes public.





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