Joint Accounts

Can I Ask to Be Included in My Partner’s Will?

We’ve been together for 20 years, but he wants to leave everything to his adult children

Kristin Wong
Forge
Published in
4 min readSep 3, 2019

--

An illustration of a couple facing each other against a colorful collage of wills, wedding rings, a car, a home and children.
Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

My partner and I have been together for 20 years. We both have adult children from previous marriages. The problem is, he won’t add me to his will. His children are his beneficiaries, but they are doing fine financially.

We’ve talked about marriage before, but if he’s not committed enough to include me in his will, I don’t really think we should be tying the knot. I would like some kind of resolution to this, though. Am I wrong to expect him to add me to his will?

Sincerely,

Left out

FFor many people, end-of-life planning can be a touchy subject. In addition to forcing us to confront our own mortality, it also makes us think about what will happen to the people we’re leaving behind — which is why money issues that arise from estate planning are rarely actually about money; it’s often symbolic of love and protection as well.

I’m assuming you’re willing to include your partner in your own will, so when he won’t return the favor, it feels like a major rejection, especially after two decades together.

But while you’re not wrong to want this gesture, I wouldn’t immediately leap to conclusions about his commitment. Perhaps your partner has his reasons — right or wrong — for wanting his children to be the only beneficiaries. For example, a will is often a way for people to make amends for the things they’ve regretted in life, leaving behind certain assets to people as a way to create closure. I don’t know whether that’s what’s going on with your partner, but it’s something to consider.

It sounds like you could both benefit from hearing what the other is thinking about this, especially if you’re talking about marriage. Schedule a time where you can sit down to talk about the emotions this is bringing up for you, and keep in mind that the conversation will be most effective if you can be specific as possible about your feelings. Try to express yourself without pointing to him as the source of your pain. Instead of “You’re rejecting me,”…

--

--

Kristin Wong
Forge
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.