An aging mother ponders her legacy
Dear Amy: I have two daughters and a son. All are adults. I am divorced from their father and am still single after 17 years since the divorce.
My girls both remain in my life – the youngest especially. “Chloe” is always there for me.
“Nancy,” the eldest, is like a cat toward me – she only makes time and effort for me if it’s on her terms and she is in the right mood, which is not very often.
My son, “Bradley” however, completely avoids me. He never answers his phone if I call. He doesn’t respond to contact from myself, his father, or his older sister, but he sometimes relates with Chloe.
Now that I’m over 60 and have battled cancer, I’m feeling my mortality and starting to think about things like getting a will done.
I’m a person of simple means so there won’t be much money left, but there will be a few thousand dollars in a 401K account and some life insurance money.
My dilemma is: Should I leave Bradley completely out of the will?
It seems the sad, sobering thing to do, but it would be based on how he has treated me.
Since Nancy is lukewarm toward me, should I leave her one-third, and then two-thirds goes to Chloe, who has been the most loving and giving child?
I suspect that if I do an even three-way split, the girls, especially Chloe, will feel resentful that their “deadbeat brother” got anything at all.
What do you think?
Dear Conflicted: The daughter closest to you, “Chloe,” has already reaped the consequences and rewards of her behavior: she has a nice, positive, and active relationship with her mother. Your son “Bradley” has through his own choices been denied that.
Estate planning can be a complicated business, because it inspires some people to essentially reward or punish after death, when neither you nor they can do anything further.
Worrying about what others may think after you’ve died should be a non-starter.
There is no “right” answer to this question, but in my opinion, you should leave an equal amount to all three children who came into the world loved equally by you.
In addition to any funds, you can leave special material items to your favored daughter – or give them to her while you’re still around to enjoy the relationship.
You could also notify her ahead of time of your intentions and your reasoning.
Talk things through, but no matter what – you should make the choice that feels best, kindest, and most ethical to you.
Dear Amy: My long-term friend decided to ghost me a few months after his wife went in for a “routine heart procedure” and tragically never woke up.
He was devastated – as was everyone that knew her.
I know he has alcohol and drug problems.
The last thing he told me was that he was chasing a widow in town who “has a lot of money” and that he was done with me.
I asked, “So this is the end of our friendship?” He never responded.
Many years ago, he sent me a piece of artwork he made out of wood. There are many hours of work that went into this.
I don’t want it in my house anymore. I thought about donating it to Goodwill here, but it’s kinda weird and I doubt if they’d want it.
I thought to simply mail it back to him with no explanation, but is that cruel?
I thought to just burn it in my fireplace, but that seems hateful.
I am not actually angry with him, but I don’t want this piece, and I never really liked this odd thing very much.
Do YOU want it?
– Wood Burned
Dear Burned: You could try reaching out to this man – one more time – to see if he would like this piece returned to him. Keep your tone very neutral and tell him you are “downsizing.”
Depending on his response, Goodwill would definitely want this item. I hope you choose to donate it.
As someone who scours flea markets, second-hand stores, and Goodwill for home-made treasures, this piece actually sounds totally up my alley.
Dear Amy: I snorted my coffee when I read your (excellent) response to “Happy Teetotaler,” the young woman who felt pressured to drink when going out.
My favorite of your snappy excuses: “I need to stay sober so I won’t slip in your vomit later.”
– Cleaning Up
Dear Cleaning: I do enjoy supplying some snap.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.