Whose Money Is It, Anyway?
Dear Margo: Is it appropriate to open a discussion with my parents about their will when they are still healthy?
My mom and stepdad own five wooded acres and a lovely home they built themselves in a beautiful part of the country. We three moved there when I was 12. The house was finished when I was in high school, and I lived in it for two years before going to college. I have one older sister and an older stepsister, neither of whom has ever lived in that state, much less in that house.
Some years ago, I found out that my mom’s and stepdad’s wills specified an equal division between their children. I anticipate problems with this when the time comes, mainly because of the personalities involved. While I have no problem buying out my sister and stepsister, that might not be a financial option for me — assuming they would even be open to selling. I foresee “my” house becoming my stepsister’s vacation home, especially as she is much better off financially than my sister or me. Even worse, the trees could be cut down and the land sold off to a developer. I would be absolutely heartsick if that happened.
Being as I am very emotionally tied to the area and to the house and am the only child to have ever lived there, would it be inappropriate for me to just ask my parents to change their wills? I’ve known about this for years, but haven’t had the courage to say anything. — Bottom Third
Dear Bot: Alas, it would be inappropriate because a couple gets to decide such matters for themselves. There is nothing wrong with letting them know that you feel very attached to the house, but if it and the property are their main assets, which I suspect might be the case, they could not leave it to you and still be fair to the other two. Perhaps this will make you feel less anxious, but there’s an old saying I subscribe to: The things we worry about most often never happen. — Margo, acceptingly
When Clear Thinking Points to the Exit
Dear Margo: My boyfriend of six months is great — except for the fact that he isn’t Christian and I am. At first I compromised my morals to be with him because I really liked him. Now, after all this time, I’ve grown to realize that what he wants is much different from what I want, not to mention we have quite different moral codes. I know for some people what I’m saying would seem ridiculous, but I’ve been a Christian my entire life, and it means a lot to me. I love him, but I know the best thing to do is end it. How do I do it so he will understand? And would it work to stay friends? — Wanting To Make the Right Decision
Dear Want: Good for you for thinking about important things before you make a commitment. The fact that your religion is important to you, a religion he doesn’t share, is one reason to call it a day. Another is that you recognize your dissimilar views of morality. Continuing … you each want different things from life. All of this spells “mismatch.”
I think this man will understand your decision when you explain that, after long thought, you believe the differences would do you in. As for remaining friends, time and his response to ending the romance will be the determinant. I salute you for dodging a bullet. — Margo, admiringly
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
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