Dear Amy: My stepfather has two adult children, and my mother has three adult children.
Our stepfather died, and over time mother changed the will so all money she had inherited from him would go to her biological children (which includes me), instead of sharing it among all five.
She was not fond of the stepchildren.
My sister, who was the executor of our mother’s will, says that two weeks before our mother died (suddenly), Mom said that she was thinking of changing the will to include everyone – her children and stepchildren.
Should we children that inherited the entire estate split the inheritance with the stepchildren?
It all feels awkward. Other dynamics are that our stepbrother is a millionaire, who would most likely think that we are not giving him enough and/or appreciate the gesture.
Therefore, we are not sure it would “fix” dynamics already created by my mother’s actions. It all feels awkward.
What would be fair might not heal the situation. And is there any way to heal it? And is it “right” if my mother deliberately created this will?
Am I just finding arguments so I can keep the money?
Dear Guilty: I understand your belief that if you give money to your step-siblings from the estate, this could open the door to their dissatisfaction and perhaps interference.
Your mother mentioned wanting to change the will to include your step-siblings, but she doesn’t seem to have disclosed specifics for how she wanted to do this.
I also assume that you and your siblings might not agree with the idea of sharing the estate. It is their right to hold onto their legal inheritance, just as you have the right to share yours.
It is imperative that you three siblings speak with a lawyer about this idea.
You don’t disclose any information about your stepfather’s will. If all of his money and property was inherited by your mother, in my opinion you should do your best to make sure that your stepfather’s children are given any of their father’s personal possessions and property, or any possessions or property that might have come down through his family.
If the house your mother lived in was originally owned by her husband before their marriage, for instance, then you and your siblings might consider giving it to his children.
My point is that you and your siblings should make an effort to recognize your step-sibling’s desire to inherit property that belonged to their father before the marriage. But your effort to do the right thing might not change any negative dynamic between you.
This truly might be a case of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t, but you should do your best to walk the most ethical path, while being realistic about the emotional fallout.
Dear Amy: My youngest son is planning his wedding. He wants his brother “Randall” to be his best man. My three grandchildren will also be part of the wedding party in some way.
My son's fiance is wondering if she should invite Randall's wife to be a part of the wedding party as well, even though she doesn't want to (no one likes Randall’s wife for various reasons).
My son’s fiance thinks it may be awkward in some way if she doesn't invite her to be in the wedding party.
I've tried to tell her that this is HER wedding, and she shouldn't feel obligated in any way to make this person part of the wedding party if that's not what she wants.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on this.
– Mother of the Groom
Dear Mother of the Groom: You are correct. The bride and groom have the right and responsibility to plan and host their wedding according to their preferences.
And yet, weddings are the public celebration of the joining of two families. One way to integrate two families together peacefully is to be deliberately inclusive.
Perhaps this sister-in-law can be assigned a role in the wedding (other than bridesmaid).
Dear Amy: I’m a professional photo organizer, and clients come to us during difficult times including divorce, death, and dementia.
Many people want to destroy, delete, or distribute photos in these situations, but those things can’t be undone.
Even with difficult memories, we suggest gathering, scanning, and organizing photos so they can be preserved for current and future generations.
Recent memories might be painful, but future generations deserve to know their history, too.
Dear Adam: Thank you for this great advice.
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