Could use the money

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

Iam in a stress­ful po­si­tion now, and it will take my telling the whole story for you to be able to ad­vise me.

My hus­band died five years ago from cancer. He had a son when we mar­ried, and we had one son to­gether. So he had two le­gal chil­dren when he died.

He had no will, though he told me what he wanted: I would have half, and our sons would have the other half, legally. He also owned a farm, and his wish was for his son to farm the land. He told my step­son to be sure to give me at least $10,000 each year to help with ex­penses. My step­son even told me all of this and said he’d agreed to it.

I was ad­min­is­tra­tor of the estate and put the farm in my step­son’s name in 2013. At that time, my step­son was all about do­ing what his dad wanted. But he ended up never farm­ing the land and in­stead rent­ing it out to an­other farmer. I have yet to get a penny.

My home needs repairs. I am in a lot of pain from health is­sues, which I won’t go into, so I had to stop work­ing and am now liv­ing on So­cial Se­cu­rity.

I don’t see my step­son and his wife too of­ten be­cause they have their own busi­ness and work so much. I don’t know the best way to ask him to do as his dad wanted. I love him and his wife and don’t want to lose the re­la­tion­ship, es­pe­cially be­cause my son is his half brother. How should I bring this up?

— Widow in Need

Have your step­son over for din­ner, and speak from the heart about your cir­cum­stances. You have been part of his life for over 20 years, and if he has an ounce of com­pas­sion, he’ll want to help.

It’s also worth con­sult­ing with an estate lawyer pri­vately. He or she can as­sess your sit­u­a­tion and make sure you were given every­thing you were owed.

As a re­tired fam­ily law at­tor­ney, I think it’s im­por­tant that I cor­rect some­thing as­sumed in the let­ter from “Heart­sick,” es­pe­cially be­cause you agreed with it. De­pend­ing on the state where the let­ter writer’s niece and her ex-part­ner live, it is not nec­es­sar­ily the case that the niece has no le­gal re­course to contact her ex-part­ner’s child.

Here in North Carolina and in many other states, a per­son in the niece’s po­si­tion, un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, may well have the right to go to court and ask the court to ex­am­ine what would be best for the chil­dren and con­ceiv­ably to or­der contact be­tween the chil­dren and the ex-part­ner. The niece ab­so­lutely should con­sult an at­tor­ney in the rel­e­vant state.

If the let­ter writer’s niece does have rights and in­forms her­self about them, then that may open a door to con­ver­sa­tions with the bi­o­log­i­cal mom that avoid the ug­li­ness of lit­i­ga­tion but in­stead lead to suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion of contact be­tween the chil­dren and the let­ter writer’s niece and fam­ily. That is to be hoped.

Court fights over cus­tody and over ac­cess to chil­dren are al­most in­vari­ably ugly and ter­ri­bly dam­ag­ing to the chil­dren. But it is also dam­ag­ing to chil­dren to lose a de facto par­ent, and one can hope that the bi­o­log­i­cal mom will rec­og­nize that and do what is best for the chil­dren. — Anti-Lit­i­ga­tion Re­tired At­tor­ney

Have your step­son over for din­ner, and speak from the heart about your cir­cum­stances.

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