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Amy: Change in will has divided family

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • August 27, 2012 - 8:32 PM

Dear Amy: After my father died several years ago, I learned that he and mom had changed their will to include not only my sister and me but also my sister's daughter. The money was to be split equally three ways.

The problem is that there are three grandchildren.

This change in the will greatly upsets me, not because of the money but because I feel that it sends a message that one grandchild is more important than the other two.

My mom and I had words about this, and we did not speak for several years.

We have recently started to speak, but I feel like a hypocrite because I feel that I am betraying my son. She will not change the will because this split was what my father wanted.

I feel strongly that it will hurt my son to learn that he is not cared about like the other grandchild.

My mother and father knew that this change in the will would upset me, yet they chose to break up our family with this decision.

How can I protect my son and yet live with this betrayal?

Amy says: Your father might have thought that this particular grandchild was disadvantaged and needed this financial boost. Or, as you say, he might have been deliberately favoring one grandchild over the others.

Regardless of your father's thinking when he drew up his will, you should not pressure your mother to change it.

You are in a position to either make this worse or to make it acceptable for your child's sake. By acceptable, I mean, "something you must accept."

You are not betraying your son by having a relationship with your mother. The message you should convey is that family members have flaws, but we are each capable of having a relationship with someone despite these flaws.

You can explain this inequity by saying, "I disagree with this choice, but I cannot make it right."

You could mitigate this somewhat by splitting or sharing your inheritance with your son when the time comes.

Friendship-ender

Dear Amy: Regarding your advice to the woman whose friend gets free soda at restaurants by using her free water cup, I think you might want to rethink your reply.

I couldn't possibly imagine telling my friend of 10 years, "I notice you always help yourself to the soda when you haven't paid for it. Do you think that's ethical?"

If this judgmental woman is looking to end the friendship, that's a perfect way to do it.

There is no good way to say something like that to a friend and get away unscathed. If this woman finds her friend so unethical, I think she shouldn't be friends with her. Either way, the friendship is over.

Amy says: Friends tell each other the truth -- and should be able to safely question choices.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

Should Mom pay?

Dear Amy: My mother and I and sister No. 1 were talking about taking a cruise.

Sister No. 1 can't afford it, and mom offered to pay for her.

Sister No. 2 (who wasn't planning on going because of the cost) says, "If you pay for sister No. 1, you should pay for me too."

Mom says she is being "selfish" but wanted my opinion.

I stayed neutral and said that I would write to you.

My mother is in her 80s, my sisters and I are in our 60s, and none of us is wealthy.

Now I'm wondering, if their trip is paid for, why not mine?

I sincerely want to take a trip with my mother while she is still able to go.

Amy says: In the time you and your sisters are spending bickering about this, you could have already had a memorable holiday together.

The most logical answer is to choose a vacation that everybody can afford.

Otherwise, those who can afford this cruise should pay their own way.

Parents sometimes deal with this sort of expense by deducting the amount spent from that particular child's (or the collective) inheritance -- but, again, this should be up to her.

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