Dear Annie: My wife of 44 years and I have two adopted children. Our son was perfect -- no trouble, a college diploma, a good job, etc. We bought him a car at 16, and another when he graduated college. We helped with the furniture for his first apartment. We loaned him the down payment on his house and he paid us back.
Our daughter, however, was a challenge. She abused drugs, had no interest in school, ran away, had multiple out-of-wedlock pregnancies, couldn't hold a job and ended up in jail for shoplifting. Over the years, we spent thousands of dollars on counseling, purchased multiple apartments of furniture when she was trying to get re-established, and have given her a dozen cars so that she could get to her job interviews. Fortunately, she seems to have finally turned the corner and has been married several years to a guy who treats her and her children well.
In an effort to equalize the disproportional amount spent on the daughter, we specified in our will that our son would get 60 percent of our estate, putting 40 percent in a trust, so our daughter would get the interest and the rest would go to her children at her death. She still doesn't work, and I am concerned that she would go through a lump sum inheritance in short order.
That split seemed reasonable when we made our wills 15 years ago, but my business has continued to grow and today that split would result in one child receiving $2.4 million more than the other. I don't want a rift between siblings and I don't particularly want to be remembered by one as a Grinch. Any suggestions on a split that is a little closer to fair? -- Your Opinion Please
Dear Opinion: We know you spent more on your daughter, but children's expenses rarely end up being equal, so the split now seems as though you are punishing her for past mistakes. And her money is in a trust, so it is essentially going to your grandchildren.
Too many people think of wills as a way to punish or reward their relatives. Please don't. The amount is generous enough that neither child is going to suffer. We also recommend you discuss these things with your son and daughter in advance, so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
Dear Annie: "Stressed on the Line" said her mother has hearing problems, among other things. For a long time, I refused the idea of hearing aids, and my husband and children were insistent. Well, I finally broke down and got them. I have to say, they are wonderful. I can hear again, and as a big plus, they are so small that very few people notice them, even though I have short hair.
I hope their mother will get hearing aids. She will wonder why she waited so long. -- Happy in Wisconsin
Dear Happy: Good for you. Often, people refuse hearing aids for reasons of vanity, which is ridiculous since they now offer ones that are barely noticeable. However, a more justifiable reason is the cost. We hope folks will consider them to be an investment in their future physical, emotional and mental health.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.