Estate planning

Ask Amy: Your mother-in-law shows favoritism to one of the grandchildren in estate planning


Dear Amy: My husband and I have four adult children, all of whom are in college. I am the main breadwinner as a business owner and professional. My husband gets a third of my income.

My brother-in-law has made mistakes in his life, the main one being his marriage to an unstable, unpredictable and irresponsible woman. She isolated him from the rest of us and was very hard on me, specifically.

They have one daughter, Christine. (She has other children that she does not see and did not raise.) Don’t work and spend selfishly and extravagantly.

Kristen has always been a favorite of my mother-in-law but she is a wonderful presence for all of her grandchildren. My mother-in-law now wants to transfer the family vacation home to my husband, while leaving the rest of her property to his brother. This transfer will cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and taxes.

We have agreed to do this to keep the cottage in the family. We have been managing and investing in improvements over the past few years. Our kids are enjoying it.

The problem is, my mother-in-law also wants us to give her big money to fund Christine’s education. Without that money, she threatens to sell the cottage. This means that her property will go to the brother. We will leave nothing for our children. I am sad because of this glitch. Until now, we’ve always taken the high road.

This situation is likely to end the relationship between her and our family, yet it seems that I cannot fathom my hard-earned money being used to fund Christine’s education based on her parents’ negligence and selfishness.

Do I need to get over my anxiety about the history of nepotism in this family, or do I walk away and let this sour relations and an opportunity to preserve something important to us? Can you see the way forward?

Hurt: It’s as if your mother-in-law is offering to sell you this country house – perhaps at a discount. What you do with the money you receive from this property is your own business. (If she mentions that she plans to use the money to fund a photo safari in Africa, does that bother you?)

If you really want this cabin, go ahead with the move. But be aware that there are many other cottages that offer you and your husband the opportunity to build new, unrestricted experiences with your children.

In short, don’t give up on the highway. You cannot control or influence your mother-in-law’s estate planning. You and your husband enjoy a good life, full of abundance and choices.

Your well-earned abundance is your children’s inheritance, and with that inheritance, they will move through their own lives along the highway, generously rewarded by stable parents and positive experiences.

Dear Amy: My friend and I went to a church meeting in the evening, where they served coffee and candy. We asked the hostess if the coffee was decaffeinated, and she said it was. It was crystal clear, so I know we heard it right. We both drink coffee.

That night, I was unable to sleep for several hours. I was still awake at 4 am! My girlfriend also said she was up most of the night. On Sunday, we confronted the woman who was the host, and she sneered and said, “It doesn’t make any difference.” I lied!

I know we only lost a few hours of sleep, but what if one of us is caffeine sensitive or has a heart problem? That would have been dangerous. No one should ever lie to someone about something they are going to eat!

Disappointed: I totally agree. A person should be able to trust that the distinctive orange rim around the coffee pot actually represents something! Furthermore, you should not be “ridiculed” for raising legitimate concerns.

Dear Amy: not sure“She wanted to know how to make friends with her boyfriend’s college friends. As is typical of your male-biased advice, you blame the man, even if there is nothing in the pattern of facts the letter writer says that points to his fault. Like a lot of women, she won’t tolerate it.” You and she are responsible for personal failures or personal incapacities.

Your advice is toxic.

Brian: These guys engaged in drunken buddy-bashing rounds.

This is completely within their rights. Her boyfriend could have tried really hard to get her into the group, but I suggested that if Not Sure didn’t like it, she should avoid these gatherings.

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


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