A Cautionary Tale

07, Jul 2015 by catalphia in Marriage and Money     No Comments



While I am shopping for produce a woman asks me,

“Are there any blueberries?”

“I think there’s one box left, over there.” I point to a nearby shelf.

“I’m only eating soft fruit,” she continues. “My husband just died.”

“I’m sorry,” I respond.

She adds, “ He was 80. He had retired. I didn’t marry him until after he retired, though, so after he died I didn’t get any of his benefits.”

I don’t know what to say, so I silently stand where I am.

“And it turns out that he owed back taxes. And now I’m responsible for the taxes, but I don’t have any of his income to pay them with.”

“It sounds like you need an attorney,” I respond. Does she have legal recourse? I have no way of knowing, and she probably doesn’t either.

I’m also thinking, “She probably never thought to check on the man’s finances before she married him.”

The irony is that even if neither she nor her partner was concerned about the monetary implications of marriage, the legal system takes them very seriously.

Copyright 2015 Carolyn Kahlke.  All Rights Reserved.