February 23, 2011

Dear Delphi,

I am a 43-year-old man, and my father recently died at age 91. I was a product of his third unsuccessful marriage. He told me repeatedly that he was going to leave me the lion’s share of money and property and give less to my two older half-sisters from his first marriage. The problem is, he did not do as he said; he actually left more to them. I am disappointed, upset, hurt, and very angry, yet at the same time I feel guilty because he just died and here I am mad as hell about money instead of mourning his passing and I can”€™t talk to anyone about it! He knew I needed the help more than they did, and he just lied, lied, and lied some more!

“€”Misled in Millbrook

Dear Misled in Millbrook,

At 91 a person has most likely gone to all his friends”€™ funerals and has been around long enough to know that promising people money will make them act nice to you.

Sadly, the only reason a lot of people pay attention to the old, sick, and dying is because they”€™re hoping for a payout. Some people even make a job out of it! Be honest with yourself: Did you alter your behavior because of the promised money? Don”€™t think that old people are stupid; they are most definitely not. If you were there only for the money, he would have known what you were up to as long as he wasn”€™t a late-stage Alzheimer’s case. Your father’s decision simply reflects the fact that your sisters outmaneuvered you. It means you must improve your tactics before your next well-off older relative starts dying.

If you were there because he was a good father and you loved him, you mistakenly gave him more credit than he deserved. Apparently he was an SOB and you should not be apologetic or feel guilty. You have been deceived by a man whom you loved and respected. The fact that he’s dead does not cancel out your feelings, although I would avoid making it your go-to conversation at dinner parties. Good parents should dole out inheritance in unequal shares only if the children face vastly different economic situations, and it should be discussed, agreed upon, and signed beforehand with all the children as witnesses.

You could always try to contest the will, but then again, your half-sisters could always try to poison you.



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