My husband and I have three adult children whom we love very much, and wish for them to have healthy, productive, ethical and loving lives.
Like many siblings, even though they were raised in the same household, they have their own individual lives with disparate beliefs and views. We don’t always agree with them, but respect them nonetheless as adults.
Even so, we do let them know how we feel as parents and remind them of how they were raised. And yes, there have been some heated discussions over the years, but ultimately we know that our relationships are more important than politics or religious beliefs.
However, sometimes the fruit rolls very far from the tree. We have a daughter who lives in a different state and has refused to communicate with us for over two years, and simply doesn’t want us to know anything about her life.
‘Are we being vengeful or malicious to consider dropping her, or just realistic and practical?’
She has criticized and mocked our family’s values, and even accused us of things that never happened. She did this both on social media and in person.
She has told us that we are toxic parents, and she doesn’t need the stress we create for her with our beliefs. OK. That’s how she feels. We are very hurt by her words and accusations, and her siblings are also perplexed and think that she’ll get over it.
We have tried to contact her, but we are ignored. She has made her point clear. She is married and has a good profession — and, I assume, a happy life without our “stress.”
At times, I feel she’s not my daughter anymore. At least, she doesn’t want to be. My husband and I have even considered removing her from our will, but go back and forth, especially when we think of her as a young child.
But then we decide that she will always be our child regardless, and should inherit her portion, which will be about $2 million or more in today’s value. Honestly, I don’t think she would even care if we disinherited her.
Are we being vengeful or malicious to consider dropping her, or just realistic and practical? Should we give her the benefit of the doubt and demonstrate our love unconditionally, and leave her in our will?
My children have no idea of the value of their inheritance, as we have always been frugal. Nor have they any idea that we are considering dropping their sibling from our will.
We’re in our early 60s and hopefully will be around for a couple of more decades, but you never know — and we need to update our wills anyway, whether or not we decide to cut off our daughter.
The Giving Tree
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Treat your children equally, in life and in death. The breakdown of a relationship is rarely, if ever, the responsibility of one party. Whether the conflict is political, ideological or personal, someone always believes they’re right.
If you cut her out of your will, you will leave acrimony and hurt feelings behind. It suggests — or worse, confirms — that your love is conditional. If your daughter is responsible, $2 million would make a huge difference to her.
Some apples should roll far from the tree. Children should make up their own minds about how they want to live their life. If you want your daughter to be happy and live life on her terms, resist the urge to punish her.
This research published in the European Journal of Ageing looked at 55 cases involving heirs, donors and professionals, attempting to understand people’s motivations and mistakes when carving up their estate among their heirs.
The researchers identified four reasons for leaving people an inheritance: altruism driven by family solidarity (it feels good to be nice), equity to maintain family unity, egoism, and reciprocity (“I give you if you give me”).
‘If you want your daughter to be happy and live life on her terms, resist the urge to punish her.’
“Altruistic motivation rests on family values (shared by heirs and donors), which aim to maintain family identity, therefore the inheritance of moral principles is valued in the absence of material inheritance,” the authors wrote.
“Equality oriented motivation lies in the maintenance of family ties — avoidance of conflicts — and recognizes individual needs,” they added. In other words, equity and family cohesion are not mutually exclusive.
The bottom line: “Material inheritance is a family matter and a normative challenge in the cycle of family life, a crucial point where relationships and modes of family functioning are brought up to date.”
If you wanted to control your daughter in life and she rebelled, you are likely to use money to amplify that message in your will. You have another choice: let go of ill will and misunderstandings. Do it for her, and for yourself.
You write, “There have been some heated discussions over the years, but ultimately we know that our relationships are more important than politics or religious beliefs.” Sometimes, the answer is in the question.
It’s easy to say that when it’s not my money. However, including her in your will is a statement — regardless of your personal disagreements and differences in worldview — that you loved her unconditionally.
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