Dear Amy: I am asking you this question, rather than a lawyer, because I’m not really inquiring about the legality of my problem, but would appreciate your opinion.
I’ve been married to my husband for almost 20 years – it was a second marriage for me, and he raised my four young children as though they were his own.
His mother passed away a year and a half ago. His older brother (never married, 62) still lives in the mother’s house, which is now co-owned by my husband and his brother. The house is in terrible condition, but still worth at least half a million dollars.
We are not wealthy and live as frugally as possible. I still work full time, and my husband is retired. His brother doesn’t pay for the house, other than his utilities. He doesn’t have a mortgage, and collects rent from an upstairs tenant.
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Be that as it may, I never asked my husband any financial questions after his mother died, but he did have me sign some documents selling property in Portugal that I would have apparently been “entitled” to (I hate that word) in terms of inheritance.
Again, I asked no questions, not wanting to cause any more upset. Last week, however, my husband told me he’d like me to sign a document that if he should pre-decease his brother, that I relinquish any rights to the house, even though legally I’d have a claim.
I am very fair-minded about money. My husband is the one who usually holds and pulls all the purse strings. Aside from the obvious legal issue, should I be insulted? Angry? Hurt?
Dear Wondering: I can’t tell you how you should feel. You get to feel however you feel. Your husband can ask you to do – or sign – anything he wants. And – in a marriage of 20 years – you get to tell your husband your feelings about this. It sounds as if he is trying to do some estate planning, and you should not sign any document that you don’t want to sign.
Given the co-ownership and the fact that this is both his brother’s domicile and a source of income for him, I can see why your husband would like to more or less “protect” his brother’s interest against any claim by you, but this doesn’t mean that you have to agree to these terms.
You have not done your own due diligence over the years, for whatever reason, but now is the perfect time for you to insist on transparency concerning all of your husband’s finances, so that you can move forward more as full partners, versus the relationship you seem to have, where one of you “holds and pulls all the purse strings,” while the other wonders how to feel about it.
Dear Amy: I work for a company that has sales reps in several states.
Our new director of sales lives in Maryland. When she sends correspondence to the reps in our territory in the South, she frequently uses the term “y’all.”
As I have lived here for my entire life, I’ve grown up using the term, but I rarely ever write it.
I honestly do not think she intends to offend, but her last email used the term four times. By the end of it, I felt like screaming we are not a bunch of yahoos that didn’t take high school English.
I dread opening her next message in anticipation of “y’all” this and “y’all” that.
Should I tell her this is not having the effect she desires?
How do I say this without embarrassing her?
Grating My Ears
Dear Grating: Unlike you, I don’t associate the term “y’all” with a “bunch of yahoos.” I think of it as a regional colloquialism that many people (including, of course, people in Maryland) use freely and without offense.
This woman is your director of sales. You are a sales rep, and so I take it that you, essentially, work for her.
I agree that this informal usage shouldn’t be used in your communications with customers, but among colleagues, you should tolerate it. If it genuinely offends you, you will have to say so.
Dear Readers: I still receive, read and appreciate “Ask Amy” postal mail. I have a new postal address which some newspapers haven’t yet posted, so I am noting it here. People wanting to write to me can address mail to “Ask Amy” PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.