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Why Won’t My Husband Change His Will to Protect Our Baby and Me?

My husband is a fair bit older than I am. Before we met, he didn’t expect to get married, so he made a will leaving his house and his entire estate to his sister. The house is now our home, and I am happy to report that things are going swimmingly. We had a baby last year! I never worried about his will before our daughter was born, but now I’m afraid if something happens to my husband, my daughter and I will be left homeless. I’ve raised the subject with him a few times. He agrees that his will should be updated, but it never seems to happen. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue. Any advice?

WIFE

One of the kindest tricks our minds play on us (pretty reliably) is to keep our looming mortality at a polite distance from our daily life. You never hear someone say, for instance: “Why buy these cute boots? We all die in the end.” But wills are precisely about our death. So, for some people, making them is complicated.

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I would stop asking your husband to revise his will (for now). He knows he should do it, even as he drags his feet. You can explore his hesitation, but I would take a different tack: Tell your husband you want to make reciprocal wills, in which you leave everything to him, and he leaves everything to you. This may feel less pointed than focusing on only his demise. You need a will, too, and this way, you can make the appointment with the lawyer.

Even better — and I have seen this approach work — you may each stipulate that your daughter is the ultimate beneficiary of your estate and name a guardian for her in the event she is orphaned as a minor. (Cheery stuff, right?) For you legal eagles: I have skipped over the marital election that lets surviving spouses make claims against estates, because having a will and keeping it up-to-date is the best plan.

My cousin’s son is getting married. My sister and I were invited to the wedding. Her two adult sons were also invited; my adult son was not. My sister and I are close with our cousin, so we don’t understand why my son was excluded. I find it hurtful and insulting, so I will not attend the wedding. I also choose not to confront my cousin because I don’t want him to invite my son out of guilt. Everyone I have spoken to agrees with me. Your thoughts?

COUSIN

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I’m glad everyone agrees with you. That may make my disagreement less troublesome. I never like to hear stories of people feeling hurt or excluded, but your response seems self-defeating. This wedding is not about you (or your cousin). You don’t even mention the bridal couple, your son’s feelings or who the wedding hosts are. (They make the guest list!)

Instead, you trumpet your decision to keep your grievance to yourself (excluding everyone who agrees with you and a newspaper). But wouldn’t talking to your “close” cousin be a gentler way to fix an accidental omission or to understand the constraints of the guest list? As stated, your plan spites only you.

I noticed that a former co-worker posted a creative project on his website. He is passing it off as his work without any other credit. The problem is, I came up with the idea and worked on it from start to finish. He was not involved at all. He pitched a vaguely related idea, but the company chose my pitch over his. And I brought it to life. Yet there it is, sitting on his website. Should I speak up or let karma sort things out?

CO-WORKER

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Your former colleague is stealing from you by falsely claiming your work as his own — even if neither of you technically owns the work product made for an employer. Don’t stand by while somebody rips you off!

Write to your former colleague. Try to be a notch friendlier than you would be to a pickpocket on the subway. (This doesn’t seem like an honest mistake to me; people know what they created.) Tell him you are troubled that he is claiming your work as his own and ask him to remove it from his website. Warn him that if he doesn’t, you will contact his employer about his unethical behavior.

My 12-year-old son has been watching “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” on Netflix. Twice, I have walked into the room while he is watching it and noticed that he is tearing up. He’s normally a happy kid. Do you think I should be concerned?

MOM

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Because your son is moved by a TV show? Not at all! I watched a few episodes in his honor. It’s a warmhearted legal procedural about a young woman with autism who is learning to make friends — and win court cases — in a new environment. (Courtroom aside, isn’t that the crux of middle school?) I would encourage his interest. Over dinner, ask him what he thinks of the show and which characters he’s rooting for.


For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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