Moral Money: 'Should I tell my wife my parents paid off our mortgage?'

A man risks an argument with his wife over their mortgage
A man risks an argument with his wife over their mortgage Credit:  Tamas Tomcsenko for the telegraph

My wife and I have an arrangement whereby I pay the monthly mortgage payments on our house in Hertfordshire and she covers our bills as well as the children’s school fees, which works out broadly even.

We have done this since we bought the house in 2010 but recently my parents, to avoid inheritance tax, gifted me a lump sum to pay off our house.

I have not told her but fear she may be upset that I am not contributing regularly to our financial outgoings – even though I have covered my part of the deal and her ongoing payments will remain the same. 

Should I tell my wife? Is it unfair to expect her to continue paying the bills as the mortgage has been paid from my inheritance?

TW, via email

It is clear that there is some level of guilt implied in  your email or you would not be asking for advice in the first place.

But what do you have to feel guilty about? You promised to pay the mortgage, which you have duly done.

Why should you now have to pay half of the bills and school fees as well when you have used your early inheritance – which could have been spent on anything else – on the house? 

The other side of the coin is that it was not money you earned but which landed in your lap unexpectedly. To burden your wife with your bills and children's education while you keep your salary to yourself seems most unfair.

After all, surely what's yours is hers and vice versa? 

What is key here is however upset you think your wife might be if she discovers the financial discrepancy you now have, it will be unthinkably worse if she finds out you have been lying to her. 

Decide whether or not you think it's fair for her to continue to pay for your's family upkeep, but either way raise the issue with her and come to an agreement together. 

Otherwise you may find you are left to foot the bills and the fees, with no wife to share the burden. 

What do you think? Readers can send their responses to each week's questions by emailing or by commenting below.

Put any question to us (and you can do so anonymously) and each week we'll publish a summary of the best responses. At the same time we will also pose the next week's question.

Last week’s Moral Money and your responses

My divorced father, who is in his late 60s, is spending huge amounts on holidays, luxuries and generally living the high life.

I worry there will be little left for me in my inheritance. I am 35, and I feel that my father's generation had it easier when it came to making and saving money. Can I ask him to be more thrifty?

GH, via letter

Poll results:

Can he ask his father to spend less to protect inheritance?

92pc said no, 5pc said yes and 3pc said there was another way.

'Get off your backside and work hard'

It is sad to sit around and wait for your inheritance one day. Get off your backside and work hard and make your own way in life.

The truth is your father might think you’re lazy – why should you inherit his money that he’s worked hard for? You need to go out and make him proud of your hard work and then he may want to reward you.

John Smith, via comments

'My problem was the opposite'

I had the opposite issue to GH with my dear mum. She lived a frugal life as she didn’t want to squander any of my inheritance.

The considerable amount she left on her passing made me feel guilty at not being more direct with her. I wish she had used her money to live a fuller life in her later years.

I think GH needs to have a discussion and come up with a compromise. Being too "British" about it will just lead to resentment and worry.

Craig Cornock, via email

'You should hope he reaches 100'

I hope he leaves it all to charity, instead of giving any of it to a selfish child.

If you wish the best for him, you should be hoping he reaches 100. By that time you’ll be 75. If you’ve been eying up his money all that time and not making your own money you will have wasted your life.

Camlock Trelawney, via comments

'He should leave enough for nursing care'

A more pressing matter for the father is that he leaves enough money to fund nursing care if he needs it at the end of his life. He does not want to have to avail himself of the mercy of the state.

Much of my “inheritance” was spent in that fashion and the comfort and dignity it offered my late father for the last couple of years of his life is worth more than anything I could have spent it on.

Mark Cooper, via comments

'Hello Luigi'

This reminds me of the old story of the reading of the will of an Italian man in New York.

The lawyer read: "And to my son Luigi, who said I would not remember him in my will: Hello Luigi!"

Kelland Hutchence, via comments