Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My fa­ther re­mar­ried 14 years ago. He mar­ried a Rus­sian woman 15 years younger than he (he speaks Rus­sian), and bought a house.

My fa­ther paid for this house. She can con­trib­ute very lit­tle, as she still can­not speak English and is not es­tab­lished in a ca­reer the way my fa­ther is.

Re­cently, my fa­ther gave my brother and me our in­her­i­tance. He told us that he had signed over own­er­ship of the house to his wife. The house is now worth three times more than it was when he pur­chased it.

The ad­vance in­her­i­tance he has given us amounts to a quar­ter of the value of the house, each.

Do I have grounds to be up­set? He says he did it be­cause she needs to be taken care of af­ter he is gone. But, Amy, why did he re­ally do this? — Up­set Daugh­ter

Dear Up­set: Your fa­ther is leav­ing his wife a house, be­cause he is try­ing to pro­vide for the per­son he has been mar­ried to for 14 years, not to pun­ish you.

Be­cause of their age dif­fer­ence, he may as­sume that she will help take care of him in his later years, and that he will pre­de­cease her, per­haps by many years. Hav­ing the house will en­able her to ei­ther live in it, or con­vert it to assets she can use to sup­port her­self later.

Many states have laws in place pro­tect­ing a sur­viv­ing spouse from be­ing dis­in­her­ited, so your fa­ther’s wife could claim up to half of the value of the house, re­gard­less of your fa­ther’s will.

Chil­dren have no au­to­matic right to in­herit from their par­ents. You did not grow up in this house. It is not your fam­ily home. Un­less there are cir­cum­stances you don’t men­tion here, you should feel happy that your fa­ther has a de­voted part­ner, ac­cept your ad­vance in­her­i­tance and move on.

Dear Amy: I have a sis­ter who is get­ting mar­ried in June. She is 16 years younger than me, so we have al­ways had more of an aunt/niece re­la­tion­ship.

She has cho­sen not to have any at­ten­dants, she didn’t go dress shop­ping with any­one (she pur­chased her dress on­line), and when I asked about host­ing a shower for her, I was told she is only hav­ing one wedding shower, for her friends only.

We have met the groom and think he’s a great guy. We are in­vited to a din­ner the night be­fore the wedding, to meet his fam­ily.

I am so up­set, and do not un­der­stand this. I have tried to gen­tly broach the sub­ject, and was told they just want to do ev­ery­thing very “sim­ply.”

I do not think there is a prob­lem be­tween us. In fact, she told me I was the first per­son she called (af­ter her mom), when they got en­gaged.

I don’t know if this is a “mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion” thing. I had thought my sis­ter and I were on good terms, so I am baf­fled.

Do I just try to smile and at­tend the fes­tiv­i­ties we are in­vited to, or do I try to flatout ask her what the heck is go­ing on?

I have a hor­ri­ble poker face, so it will be ob­vi­ous if I don’t clear the air.

We have an older sis­ter and brother, and they are also baf­fled.

What are your thoughts? — Shunned Sis­ter

Dear Shunned: I can un­der­stand why you feel left out of the shower, but oth­er­wise you should as­sume that your sis­ter sim­ply isn’t ad­her­ing to the many wedding tra­di­tions that you seem to value. With­out any at­ten­dants, some of the spe­cial sta­tus cat­e­gories that might have made you feel more val­ued aren’t avail­able.

You should not as­sume that this is a per­sonal slap. You should, how­ever, say to your sis­ter, “I want to make sure that ev­ery­thing is OK be­tween us. I’m feel­ing a lit­tle left out, and I hope it’s not be­cause you’re up­set with me.”

Your sis­ter has the right to have what­ever wedding she wants to have, and you should be a good sport and ac­cept her choices.

Dear Amy: I cringed when I read the let­ter signed, “Mommy Dear­est,” from a woman who was try­ing to heal her ter­ri­ble re­la­tion­ship with her mother by ask­ing her mom to be with her in the de­liv­ery room when she had a baby.

Wow! That’s a pretty bad idea. Talk about a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion for ev­ery­one! — Yikes

Dear Yikes: For this mother and daugh­ter, first: baby steps. Then, if things go well: baby birth.

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