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Annie’s Mailbox: Changing her will breaks a promise

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: My father was sick for several years before he died. Dad told me that he and my mother were leaving their entire estate to me, their only child. He even showed me their wills.

I took many days off of work to help care for Dad. After he died, I took time to assist my 85-year-old mother. Because of that, my retirement income was lowered substantially. I also used half of my savings to “buy” early retirement in order to care for Mom. I never mentioned to my parents what this sacrifice was costing me. I reasoned I would recoup some of the loss with my inheritance.

Recently, Mom told me she is going to rewrite her will, dividing the estate between my husband, our two children and me. She says my kids need the money more than I do.

Annie, my adult children are financially stable. I helped them through college and gave them money for their first home, which is more than my parents did for me. When I explained to Mom that I was counting on that money, she said I am selfish and shouldn’t expect to be paid to take care of my own parents.

I am the only one who consistently helps my mother, and she still expects me to take her shopping, to the doctor, etc., and I do. But now I feel used. I am 62 years old and suddenly uncomfortable facing old age with the small amount of savings I have. Am I being selfish? – Ungrateful Daughter

Dear Daughter: No. Had your parents said nothing about a will, we are certain you would still have taken care of them, although probably not to the extent that your retirement was in jeopardy. Mom reneged on a promise, which is not only hurtful, but puts you in a financially precarious state. There is nothing wrong with saying so.

Keep in mind that, barring divorce, you and your husband will share that part of the inheritance and, at some point, you likely would have left some to your children anyway. Please try to forgive your mother so this doesn’t curdle your relationship.

E-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@ comcast.net.
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