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Why Doesn’t My Mom Realize What Her Vote Means for Me?

作者:admin 2020-10-23

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Credit...Christoph Niemann

In the ’70s, I bought a beautiful photograph by William Eggleston for not much money. My parents admired it, so I gave it to them. Now that my father has died, 10 years after my mother, I assumed the photo would come back to me. It’s appreciated tremendously in value. After their house, it’s probably the most valuable asset in my parents’ estate. But my siblings feel differently. They think they have a right to share in the value of the Eggleston I bought. This strikes me as selfish. You?


The good news? You have exquisite taste in art. And you were generous to your parents. But if you really gave the picture to them, 40-plus years ago, it’s now part of their estate. Unless they bequeathed it to you in their wills, its value will be divided among their beneficiaries like the rest of their personal property.

When we give something away, it’s not ours anymore. If you can afford it, your siblings probably won’t object to your taking the photograph and a smaller portion of your parents’ other assets. An estate lawyer can help you divide things fairly, crediting the value of the photograph against your share of the estate.

My grandparents, who are in their 80s, are coming up on a big wedding anniversary. They invited me (four days out) to a celebratory brunch at an indoor restaurant, noting the tables will be “appropriately spaced.” My grandparents have been careful during the pandemic, but they think this is a risk worth taking for the occasion. Other relatives who have not been so vigilant about precautions are also going. I’ve been careful, but I haven’t isolated for two weeks. If I’d known about the party, I would like to have done that to protect my grandparents. What do I do?


There used to be little downside in going to badly conceived parties. Not anymore! Tell your grandparents, in a loving way, that their risk assessment is seriously flawed. Neither you, nor your less careful relatives, should gather with octogenarians for indoor dining while coronavirus cases surge in most states. It’s too dangerous!

Now, this decision may not sit well with your family members. (Physical separation has been one of the true heartaches of this pandemic.) But I’d rather be unpopular and have everyone survive until Christmas. Still, you can’t control anyone’s behavior but yours. Skip the party, with sincere apologies, and offer to celebrate with your grandparents privately, at home, 14 days after all of you have resumed strict safety protocols.

Since March, my family has been patronizing several local restaurants with weekly takeout orders to help them survive the pandemic. One of them regularly includes free desserts that we didn’t order and don’t want. How do we decline these generous gifts without hurting anyone’s feelings?


Use your words, Poppy! Why would a restaurateur resent a regular patron for declining free food? Say, “We really appreciate the free desserts you’ve been sending, but can you leave them out from now on?” You may need to repeat this request when you order. The free desserts may be a general marketing strategy of the grateful restaurant, and not aimed at you specifically.

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

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