The Moneyist: My sister-in-law is a greedy, gold-digging, woman — it floored me that men could be so stupid

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Dear Moneyist,

I have watched my sister-in-law maneuver her way through various romantic relationships for gain. Her prizes were everything from boob jobs and cars to homes. She is a selfish, gold-digging, greedy woman. It floored me that men could be so stupid. Especially wealthy men! But they were. Sigh!

She finally landed a superrich man, my husband’s brother, and they started a family through an egg donor and began a rich, but seemingly normal, life — at least on the surface. I wanted no part of my sister-in-law or her new family — nor did I want a part of any of her antics. I, over the years, have made that clear to my husband.

‘Go ahead and call me paranoid if you want to, but over the decades I have seen how my sister-in-law gets into other people’s business.’

Finally, the unbelievers on his side of the family had their eyes opened when my mother-in-law was widowed. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law and father-in-law had purchased a home from her without the agreement in writing. Upon his death, my sister-in-law insisted that this home be returned to her.

Go ahead and call me paranoid if you want to, but over the decades I have seen how my sister-in-law gets into other people’s business. Her marriage fell apart recently. I know she received a comfortable settlement. But it’s never enough for her. Please keep that in mind. It’s never ever enough.

Also see: I saved $1 million for retirement without an adviser and I’m only in my 40s — yet I spend my waking hours worrying

I, on the other hand, have a modest life. I have everything I need. My husband and I scraped for years doing without and keeping debt as low as possible. We are debt-free and have retirement funds. We now plan on selling our home and traveling the world for a year. We will be wealthy but homeless and stateless.

Our one child is now a responsible adult with a strong work ethic. But she does communicate with my sister-in-law on occasion. If something happened to my husband and I during our travels you can bet she would attempt to maneuver herself into a position of power — and attempt to gain wealth even if she has to do it through our daughter.

I am not sure my daughter is savvy enough to see this sister-in-law’s sinister intentions. How can we protect our assets in the event that we die?


Dear Diane,

It sounds like you have a fun adventure ahead of you. What an exciting prospect, and so well deserved after so much hard work. A year traveling the world with the man you love sounds like the best way to kick off your retirement.

Bring plenty of sunscreen, and make sure all of your financial and legal documents are in a safe place and accessible by your family’s lawyer. The relevant account numbers are all available to you electronically, so you they are available to you at all times.

Be careful about leaving confidential documents behind as they could fall into the wrong hands. They include tax records, investment papers, pay stubs, bank statements, canceled checks and consumer bills/receipts, passwords written on paper.

You may also wish to put a freeze on your credit file if you are using credit cards while you are traveling and you have no intention of opening up a new credit card or taking out a personal loan while you are away. Better to preempt an identity thief.

Don’t miss: I’m engaged to a ‘money monster’ who racks up parking tickets and credit-card debt

Also, travel light. This brings me to your sister-in-law. Don’t take her with you. It sounds that you are carrying around a lot of grievances. You have followed her life closely and, assuming what you say is true, she does seem — how should I put this? — challenging.

Whether or not you believe you are justified to feel the way you do — she may be all of these things you describe — don’t let this ruin your trip. Your sister-in-law is living her life in the way she sees fit. As an objective observer, her life has nothing to do with you.

Make sure you and your husband have your wills written and notarized and filed with your lawyer and bank before you go on this trip. You may also want to think about setting up a trust for your daughter, so she can have controlled access to money for education, housing, etc.

You worked hard, saved and planned your investments before you hit 35 so you can be happy and enjoy this precious time with your husband. Money is not the answer to all life’s problems, but a secure retirement gives you peace of mind and helps you to be free.

Speaking of freedom, you do not want the spectre of your sister-in-law on this trip, tracing your every step.

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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