Dear Annie: I have been married to a wonderful man for 30 years. We have a large, supportive, loving family on both sides. I love my mother-in-law dearly. We have always had a wonderful, close relationship.
Here’s the problem. In Mom’s will, it states that if she passes away before my husband, he receives the inheritance. If my husband passes away before his mother, our children receive the inheritance. While this is fine, it hurts me that I am not mentioned at all. My husband has talked to his mother about this oversight, and she said this is the way she wants her will set up.
I have been a good wife, mother and daughter and don’t understand why she would ignore me this way. I don’t expect to inherit money, but a special token would be nice — perhaps a piece of jewelry that she wore or a cherished keepsake. The point is knowing that she thought of me.
Are most wills set up this way? I feel like I’m not really a part of her family.
— Very Blessed, But Hurt
Dear Blessed: Most wills are set up to provide for children and grandchildren. Spouses of the children are sometimes included, but not always. There is often a worry that the child will someday divorce the spouse, and the family heirlooms would end up with someone who is no longer related. It’s also possible that by limiting the beneficiaries to immediate blood relatives, Mom is preventing rivalries between spouses. Please try not to think of this as evidence that your mother-in-law doesn’t care for you. We don’t believe that is the case.
Dear Annie: Fifteen years ago, I helped my oldest daughter and son-in-law with a down payment on a house. So far, I haven’t seen so much as a dollar in repayment from them.
My husband passed away six years ago, so I sure could use the money. Why are adult children so self-centered? I’m at a loss as to what I can do. Whatever I have left I’m leaving to the SPCA.
— Hurt Mother
Dear Mother: Did your daughter consider this a loan or a gift? She may not realize it was intended to be repaid. Have you asked her? Please tell your daughter you were happy to help her when you had the opportunity, but now that you need money, you would appreciate it if she would make an effort to repay the loan. Then set up a payment schedule that she can handle.
Dear Annie: I want to add a cautionary tale to the recommendation you gave “Wedding Jitters” about a prenuptial agreement.
When my mother passed away, my father remarried in Florida. He and his second wife went to a local lawyer and had a prenuptial agreement drawn up to protect his extensive assets for his children and grandchildren should he predecease his second wife. When Dad died, the agreement allowed his second wife to remain in the house and live off of their joint assets.
When my stepmother died, however, we discovered that she had moved everything into her name before my father’s death and consequently willed it to her family. My sister and I retained a lawyer in New York who aggressively pursued this through the prenuptial agreement and my father’s will. But apparently, his prenup is not considered a binding contract in Florida and is essentially meaningless. We inherited nothing from my parents’ life of scrimping and saving. It may have protected my father in the event of a divorce, but it did not protect his estate.
— Sad but Wiser
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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