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She sacrificed for parents, but inheritance is cut

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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.

Dear Annie: My brother owns a business with “Ted.” Ted is married and has three kids, but he’s fooling around with another friend’s girl. We’ve all seen the flirting and noticed Ted’s truck at her house. Her boyfriend would go crazy if he knew.

I think my brother should tell Ted that we all know and eventually his wife is going to find out. He refuses, saying it will come out when it comes out. What do you say? Frank

Dear Frank: If your brother doesn’t want to warn Ted that he’s playing with fire, you can’t force him to speak up. Stay out of it.

Dear Annie: This is for “Midwest Farmer’s Wife.” Being married to a farmer is hard work, but it helps to be flexible. Certain operations (planting, spraying, harvesting) must be done at specific times, and you have to work your butt off to finish them.

Our kids and grandkids have birthdays, anniversaries and school programs, and they know we can’t always be there, but will do something special with them later to make up for it. When we missed our granddaughter’s 7th birthday party, her response was, “I’m sorry you can’t come, but it’s really neat Papa is getting his corn planted so I can visit in the fall and help him drive the combine.” Six weeks later we made a trip to see her.

We have lived our entire married life rearranging schedules to fit with the work that has to be done. Plan your trips for the “off-season,” and your hubby might make the effort to join you. Instead of whining about the horrid hours he puts in, take supper out to the field and join him for a 15-minute break. We make every occasion special when we have the time. A Farmer’s Wife Who Loves Her Farmer

• E-mail your questions to or write to: Annie’s Mailbox‚Ñ¢, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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