Toronto Star

Disrespect­ed wife should put her finances in order

- Ken Gallinger

I’m assuming if my question is published, my identity won’t be; as a precaution, I’m sending this anonymousl­y through a friend’s email.

Here’s my question: is it ethical for a husband to change the beneficiar­y of an insurance policy in his name after decades of marriage? I have always been sole beneficiar­y, but now I’m off and our children are joint beneficiar­ies.

My husband’s rationale is that if he predecease­s me, I inherit his half of our estate and that will be enough. I told him I didn’t agree; he went ahead. Now my husband claims I’m greedy. Is his behaviour ethical? Your husband is being a bully. As the owner of the policy, your husband has a (perhaps limited) right to designate any beneficiar­y he chooses. If his original designatio­n of you was “revocable,” he’s ignored your wishes, arbitraril­y made the change and there’s likely nothing you can do about it.

Even worse, if the original designatio­n was “irrevocabl­e,” he’s bullied you into signing the papers necessary to effect the change against your will — and you’re even more screwed.

Either way, he wants to define how much is enough for you to live on, and accuses you of greed when he arbitraril­y pulls future income out from under your feet.

He doesn’t trust you to manage the money and pass the residue on to the kids when your own journey comes to an end. And you, for your part, are sending anonymous e-mails to a newspaper looking for help.

Your husband no longer respects you, and you’re scared of him. Your marriage is in trouble, and you need way more help than I can provide. So I want you to do three things.

First, talk this though with at least one wise friend; if you don’t have such a friend, pay a counsellor to listen.

Don’t focus on the insurance — that horse has left the barn and it’s too late to close the gate now. Talk instead about the bullying, the lack of trust and the devaluing of yourself that colours your household.

You haven’t told anyone about that stuff — not even me. But I’m betting it goes on, and you need to share the burden with people whom you trust. People who send anonymous e-mails are past the point of being able to manage alone.

Second, round up your family financial informatio­n and see a lawyer specializi­ng in family law. If hubby is pulling this stunt, he’s planning other stuff as well. I suspect he’s preparing to cut and run, taking as much with him as possible. So find out your rights and take concrete steps to protect yourself.

And finally, ask yourself: is how I’m living now the way I want to spend the rest of my life? If, as I suspect, the answer is no, it may be better to cut bait yourself, on your terms, rather than waiting passively for him to set you adrift.

In short — stop being a victim. You have way more to lose than an insurance payout. Send your questions to

 ?? DREAMSTIME PHOTO ILLUSTRATI­ON/ ?? Being left off an insurance policy by a spouse indicates deeper problems in the marriage, Ken Gallinger writes.
DREAMSTIME PHOTO ILLUSTRATI­ON/ Being left off an insurance policy by a spouse indicates deeper problems in the marriage, Ken Gallinger writes.
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