My mother has Alzheimer’s and lives close to me in a memory care facility. I have one sister who visits Mom often from Phoenix. She recently had lunch with my ex-wife Susan, from whom I had a VERY ugly divorce that lasted 15 months until I finally gave in and settled. I am now stuck with permanent alimony and Susan does little to become self-supporting.
Susan had a relationship with my mother for 37 years and visits her on a regular basis. My sister told me Susan wants to “bury the hatchet” and be friends.
I told my sister that’s much easier for Susan than for me because she has no obligations to me while I am forced to support her (she also got more than 50% of the assets in the divorce). I also have so many memories of all the shit she pulled during the process that I don’t know if I’ll ever want any kind of relationship with her.
Finally, I am going to inherit a tidy little sum when my mom dies. I won’t be rich, but I’ll retire in some comfort. Years ago when I was still married my mother added a $25,000 bequest to Susan.
During the divorce proceeding I made sure it got out through my attorney that my mother was planning to rescind that bequest, even though she was in assisted living at the time and was not fully of sound mind. I have relaxed that stance a bit considering Susan is helping with my mother.
OK, now the questions:
1) What is your advice on being friends with an ex in this situation?
2) As executor of the will, what would be my rights or recourses on distributing a bequest in this situation and should or shouldn’t I take this action?
Thank you for your letter. If you read regularly you know how I feel about the albatross of alimony and the people who use it as a permanent
welfare program support system rather than a temporary crutch after divorce. That’s why I hate your question, because it forces me to be smart, rather than reactionary.
(But I love the Low Road!)
Let’s address Susan’s desire for friendship first:
I know from our chat this morning that you have three grown children and three grandchildren. Mazel tov! If you read the blog last week, you know I wrote about the importance of having an amicable relationship with your ex. If you didn’t read that blog, a pox on your house! But here it is: Co-Parenting with Jerk and New GF?
Susan wants to bury the hatchet, but because you are forced to pay her cushy/bon-bon eating way through life and because she acted horribly during the divorce, you’d like to bury that hatchet right in her head. There is little in life more frustrating than having to fork over a large percentage of your income to a person who suffers from PMS (Princess Mentality Syndrome) and who is wholly and blissfully unaccountable for their existence.
Unfortunately, until we can loosen the stranglehold (massive campaign donations) the family law bar has on the legislature, you won’t be seeing alimony reform anytime soon. That makes being friendly a lot tougher, but it’s definitely possible and since you have children and grandchildren in common, I suggest you give it a try.
Remember that there is a big difference between being friendly and being friends. I personally could never look past the crap your wife pulled during the divorce or the refusal to become financially independent enough to be friends, but you could be pleasant around her for the sake of your kids and grandkids.
Act friendly, rather than trying to pretend she isn’t a lazy horrible bitch who suddenly wants to be buddy-buddy because your mom is taking her final bow and Susan knows many ducats will fall into your pocket once the coffin is in the ground.
You’ve got years of family gatherings to face with Susan and you and your family will be much better off if you could normalize your relationship. The ones who will benefit the most will be your kids and your grandkids, so play nice and in your spare time craft a buy-out proposal or another way to end the perpetual Vaginanuity.
OK, as for the question about the will, please remember to review my disclaimer I Ain’t Yer Lawyer, Bitch! This is not legal advice:
Don’t mess with your mom’s will. Before she became non-compus-poopus she wanted Susan to have that money, and given Susan’s regular visits to your mom I think she deserves it. Sitting with Alzheimer’s patients can be very trying.
You told me this amount makes up 1.7% of the total estate, so I think you should just let it go. I can understand how this could really chap your ass, but you don’t have any legal or moral right to rescind the bequest.
Since your mother is no longer of sound mind, any effort to keep Susan from this gift would be both petty and fruitless, because she would likely hire a lawyer (with YOUR money, no less!) and sue you for both the gift and her legal fees. I think she’d win.
So there it is: bury the hatchet but don’t feel like you need to be friends, and don’t fuck with mommy’s will.
Last piece of advice: as I alluded to above, I’d look into negotiating a buy-out when your inheritance comes in. Getting rid of the monthly payment is like taking the world’s biggest shit after years of constipation, so hopefully your mom won’t hang on too long.