DEAR AMY: My father remarried 14 years ago. He married a Russian woman 15 years younger than he (he speaks Russian), and bought a house. My father paid for this house. She can contribute very little, as she still cannot speak English and is not established in a career the way my father is. Recently, my father gave my brother and me our inheritance. He told us that he had signed over ownership of the house to his wife. The house is now worth three times more than it was when he purchased it. The advance inheritance he has given us amounts to a quarter of the value of the house, each. Do I have grounds to be upset? He says he did it because she needs to be taken care of after he is gone. But, Amy, why did he really do this?
DEAR UPSET: Your father is leaving his wife a house, because he is trying to provide for the person he has been married to for 14 years, not to punish you.
Because of their age difference, he may assume that she will help take care of him in his later years, and that he will predecease her, perhaps by many years. Having the house will enable her to either live in it, or convert it to assets she can use to support herself later.
Many states have laws in place protecting a surviving spouse from being disinherited, so your father’s wife could claim up to half of the value of the house, regardless of your father’s will.
Children have no automatic right to inherit from their parents. You did not grow up in this house. It is not your family home. Unless there are circumstances you don’t mention here, you should feel happy that your father has a devoted partner, accept your advance inheritance and move on.
DEAR AMY: I have a sister who is getting married in June. She is 16 years younger than me, so we have always had more of an aunt/niece relationship. She has chosen not to have any attendants, she didn’t go dress shopping with anyone (she purchased her dress online), and when I asked about hosting a shower for her, I was told she is only having one wedding shower, for her friends only. We have met the groom and think he’s a great guy. We are invited to a dinner the night before the wedding, to meet his family. I am so upset, and do not understand this. I have tried to gently broach the subject, and was told they just want to do everything very “simply.” I do not think there is a problem between us. In fact, she told me I was the first person she called (after her mom), when they got engaged. I don’t know if this is a “millennial generation” thing. I had thought my sister and I were on good terms, so I am baffled. Do I just try to smile and attend the festivities we are invited to, or do I try to flat-out ask her what the heck is going on? I have a horrible poker face, so it will be obvious if I don’t clear the air. We have an older sister and brother, and they are also baffled. What are your thoughts?
DEAR SHUNNED: I can understand why you feel left out of the shower, but otherwise you should assume that your sister simply isn’t adhering to the many wedding traditions that you seem to value. Without any attendants, some of the special status categories that might have made you feel more valued aren’t available.
You should not assume that this is a personal slap. You should, however, say to your sister, “I want to make sure that everything is OK between us. I’m feeling a little left out, and I hope it’s not because you’re upset with me.”
Your sister has the right to have whatever wedding she wants to have, and you should be a good sport and accept her choices.
DEAR AMY: I cringed when I read the letter signed, “Mommy Dearest,” from a woman who was trying to heal her terrible relationship with her mother by asking her mom to be with her in the delivery room when she had a baby. Wow! That’s a pretty bad idea. Talk about a stressful situation for everyone!
DEAR YIKES: For this mother and daughter, first: baby steps. Then, if things go well: baby birth.