Dear Amy: My husband died young. He was one of three siblings.
I made sure to visit and call my late-husband’s parents regularly. I consider them family. My own father died when I was young, so my father-in-law was my “Pop-pop.”
My mother-in-law died six years ago, but my father-in-law and I continued to call each other on Sundays. I enjoyed our conversations.
My adult children also kept in touch with him.
Sadly, my father-in-law, well into his 90s, died recently.
His eldest child was the executor and said that his dad had recently changed his will, giving one third of his estate to each of his two remaining children and then dividing the remaining third among all of the grandchildren (there are seven, two of them are my children).
I didn’t expect to receive anything from the estate, although a note acknowledging our relationship sure would have meant a lot.
My father-in-law had every right to determine how to bequeath his money, but I am still having trouble with how this played out.
I feel as though my husband’s life was erased from the story — like he never existed — and that my kids ended up being punished (again) by their dad’s early death.
Am I wrong to be so upset about this oversight?
I want to make sure my daughter-in-law and son-in-law feel valued when I die.
My current will divides my estate between my two children. Is there something more I should do to ensure my son-in-law and daughter-in-law know how much I loved and valued both of them?
Even in the event that I pre-decease these in-laws, what would be a good way to acknowledge that I appreciate them?
Should I write those notes now?
Am I silly to think they would mean something?
Should I set aside a portion of my estate for each of them?
Dear Upset: It would have been judicious for your father-in-law to divide his estate into three equal sibling portions, with your late-husband’s portion given to your children, but he didn’t do that. He cut out your husband and descendants, but you seem to be reacting mainly to the fact that you feel cut out.
Yes, a note to be passed along to you would have been thoughtful, but if you’d received it, you might have felt: “My late-husband was ignored, and all I got was a note?!”
My point is that the reward you received — the legacy — was in the relationship, itself. It was gracious for you to keep in such close touch with your late-husband’s folks. I assume that the elder man enjoyed your weekly phone calls.
But sometimes people bestow a gift and never receive an equivalent return.
Let your own kids’ spouses know that you treasure the relationship with them.
Write these notes now — and send them now!
And yes, leave these in-laws something special (just for them) in your will.
Dear Amy: I’ve become friendly with a married couple (both women) who recently started attending our small Protestant church. They chose our church because of its progressive and inclusive attitude toward LGBTQ people.
This couple has decided to spearhead a Christmas campaign asking fellow congregants to donate gifts through a national charity run by a well-known evangelist whose anti-gay stance is common knowledge.
Members of our church have participated in this for several years, but I decided (quietly) that I would direct my Christmas charity elsewhere and choose not to donate.
This is the first year that the campaign has been led by a gay couple, and I wonder if they realize that the leader of the national charity believes that gay people are “adulterers,” and “godless sinners.”
Should I tell them?
Dear Torn: You’ve been a quiet witness to this annual appeal.
This is an ethical concern for you, and you should not expect a gay couple to care more about this than you do.
If you don’t believe that your particular congregation should endorse and participate in this campaign because of the discriminatory beliefs of its founder, you should take your concerns to your church’s governing body, not to these individuals.
Dear Amy: You ran a question from and overwhelmed preacher’s daughter, including an elaborate answer from a pastor on how to frame her choice to pull back from church activities.
This bothered me! She should tell her father the truth, not develop a fanciful explanation for the fact that she is exhausted and needs to stop!
— A Preacher’s Kid
Dear Preacher’s Kid: Well said. Thank you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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