Should I Push My Husband to Ask for More of His Mother’s Estate?


My husband’s grandfather often gave my husband and his older sister larger financial gifts than the ones he gave their younger sister. After he died, their mother (the grandfather’s daughter) decided to rectify this inequity by giving a large portion of her inheritance to her younger daughter. This seemed totally fair to me; it was her money. But now, the younger daughter, who has lived rent-free for years in an apartment owned by her mother, has asked her to sell the apartment and give the proceeds to her alone — all in the name of canceling out the favoritism by the grandfather. This feels wrong to me, as if history is repeating itself. Should I push my husband to fight for a more equal distribution of assets?

DAUGHTER-IN-LAW

When it comes to complex family dynamics — like the ones you’re describing — it is often wiser for in-laws to support their partners’ feelings rather than become aggrieved on their behalf. Here, for instance, you don’t say anything about how your husband feels. Nor do you specify the disparity in his grandfather’s gifts, whether his mother had already remedied the shortfall to his younger sister entirely or what the siblings’ material needs are now.

Don’t get me wrong: You are entitled to your opinion. But I would first try to explore how your husband feels about these gifts. This is his mother, after all! And inheritances can be powerful symbols for some adult children — proxies for parental love, even — while they are less freighted for others. Your mother-in-law may also be grappling with a younger daughter who has felt hurt for years.

Start by asking your husband how he would feel if his mother gave the proceeds of her apartment to his younger sister. If the prospect bothers him, encourage him to speak with his mother about her estate plan. A family conversation may be helpful for everyone. But if it doesn’t trouble him, let this go. It’s not your apartment.

I take my dog to the neighborhood dog run several times a week. She loves running with other dogs, and it’s a great way to exercise a city dog. Unfortunately, a cabal of dog owners also comes to the dog run in the morning and shares baked goods with one another while their dogs play. My dog is highly motivated by food, so when the snacks come out, she plants herself at their feet — and all doggy play and socializing ends. Would it be OK to ask these people to eat before they come to the park?

DOG MOM

Whenever a diverse group of people shares a resource — like an enclosed dog run, for instance — it’s helpful to establish guidelines for its use. At the dog park I use, for example, there is a sign posted with a few cardinal rules on it. Among them: no food or high-value dog treats in the park, which can lead to aggression among dogs and begging.

In the absence of a sign, you can ask your fellow dog owners to stop eating in the dog run. (Your story is sympathetic.) And they may go along with you for the love of dogs. Or they may not — in which case, you can contact your local parks department about posting rules for the dog park (which may be a hassle) or perhaps alter the timing of your visits.

A few years ago, I learned that a family friend who had a terminal illness planned to give me a new laptop. My mother was helping him prepare his will, and he asked if I would want one. I was incredibly grateful, and while I wanted to thank him, I wasn’t sure how to do it. Sending a thank-you note for a gift I would receive only after he died seemed insensitive. And I didn’t get the chance to visit him. I still feel guilty. What should I have done?

BENEFICIARY

I doubt your friend would want you to feel guilty about this. And I understand how the prospect of death can be unnerving. (Spoiler: We are all headed that way eventually!)

Still, I don’t share your view that sending a note or making a call would have been insensitive. A family friend thought of you in his final days. What could be wrong with thanking him for that? At the same time, I get that you felt tripped up in the moment, and frankly, your friend probably had more pressing thoughts on his mind. Take it easy on yourself, OK?

We serve cocktails and wine when we have people to dinner. Should we also buy and offer them pot gummies? We have friends who don’t drink, and I suppose it would be nice to offer them an alternative. What do you think?

HOST

Have you ever actually taken an edible? In my experience, they can take an hour or two to kick in — and then peak a few hours later. Unless you give marathon dinner parties, the timing seems wrong to me. Also, if your friends don’t drink because they are sober, offering them alternative intoxicants is a bad idea.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on X.





Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top