Should I Push My Husband to Ask for More of His Mother’s Estate?

My husband’s grandfather often gave my husband and his older sister larger financial gifts than the ones he gave their younger sister. After he died, their mother (the grandfather’s daughter) decided to rectify this inequity by giving a large portion of her inheritance to her younger daughter. This seemed totally fair to me; it was her money. But now, the younger daughter, who has lived rent-free for years in an apartment owned by her mother, has asked her to sell the apartment and give the proceeds to her alone — all in the name of canceling out the favoritism by the grandfather. This feels wrong to me, as if history is repeating itself. Should I push my husband to fight for a more equal distribution of assets?


When it comes to complex family dynamics — like the ones you’re describing — it is often wiser for in-laws to support their partners’ feelings rather than become aggrieved on their behalf. Here, for instance, you don’t say anything about how your husband feels. Nor do you specify the disparity in his grandfather’s gifts, whether his mother had already remedied the shortfall to his younger sister entirely or what the siblings’ material needs are now.

Don’t get me wrong: You are entitled to your opinion. But I would first try to explore how your husband feels about these gifts. This is his mother, after all! And inheritances can be powerful symbols for some adult children — proxies for parental love, even — while they are less freighted for others. Your mother-in-law may also be grappling with a younger daughter who has felt hurt for years.

Start by asking your husband how he would feel if his mother gave the proceeds of her apartment to his younger sister. If the prospect bothers him, encourage him to speak with his mother about her estate plan. A family conversation may be helpful for everyone. But if it doesn’t trouble him, let this go. It’s not your apartment.

Credit…Miguel Porlan

Training Your Fellow Dog Owners

I take my dog to the neighborhood dog run several times a week. She loves running with other dogs, and it’s a great way to exercise a city dog. Unfortunately, a cabal of dog owners also comes to the dog run in the morning and shares baked goods with one another while their dogs play. My dog is highly motivated by food, so when the snacks come out, she plants herself at their feet — and all doggy play and socializing ends. Would it be OK to ask these people to eat before they come to the park?

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