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Ask Amy: How can I approach discussing estate planning with my partner?

Dear Amy: My partner and I have been together for 24 years.

We’ve owned two houses together, and I have been a loyal employee at his family-owned business for 20 years.

He dodges every attempt I make to discuss his estate plan. He says he doesn’t want to offend anyone. Well, he’s already offended me. All he thinks about is his obligation to his father and siblings.

Our house is in joint tenancy, so if something happens to him, at least I won’t be homeless.

I will, however, lose my income, his income and a company-provided vehicle.

And did I mention that we have a fairly large mortgage on our current residence?

I understand that he wants/needs to leave his share of the business to his brother/partner. But if he dies without a will, all of his assets will go to his elderly father, then to his siblings.

This is beginning to keep me awake at night.

Any suggestions?

— No Way Without a Will

No Way: You need the expertise of an estate planner.

Researching your question, I could find no provisions for a long-term domestic partner after death — without a will specifically designating it. (You are obviously already aware of this.)

Rules for inheritance vary state by state, but if someone dies intestate, for a partner to inherit, marriage seems to be a necessity.

Set up a meeting, and if your partner won’t attend, go on your own. The adviser might suggest you each hold life insurance policies designating the partner as the beneficiary. The same would go for any retirement accounts. Your adviser should also pass along any recommendations regarding how you as an individual can best protect and provide for your future if your partner dies before you without a will. You should also carefully review your joint tenancy agreement.

It seems logical (to me) that your partner’s share in his family’s business should be handled separately, in whatever way he decides.

If he won’t attend this meeting with you, bring home all of the information you’ve gathered and ask him to review it with you.

Estate planning can be tricky and complicated. For some people, it can also be somewhat frightening. But, like many financial decisions, once you get started with tackling problems, you will sleep better.

Dear Amy: My granddaughter is 14 and estranged from her father (my son).

She lives over an hour away with her mother and her mother’s parents.

The adults have stated before that they have nothing against me, just my son.

Before her birthday in early December, I texted (both her and her mother) that I would like to come down for a shopping and lunch date to celebrate her birthday and asked what would be a good day.

My granddaughter replied that she was too busy and did not want to go shopping, etc. I ended up sending a check.

The check was cashed, but I never got a thank you or any other correspondence. Before Christmas, I again texted them both to arrange a time that I could come down to celebrate Christmas. Neither of them responded in any way.

Before this, I thought I had a fairly good relationship with my granddaughter and the adults she lives with.

What can I do to reestablish a relationship?

I thought about mentioning that I was deciding on what to do with certain valuables that my grandnieces might like, but that seems like bribery.

Any ideas? She is and most likely will be my only granddaughter, and I want her in my life.

— Sad Grandma

Sad: Communicate directly with the child’s mother and ask whether she can meet you for coffee over the weekend.

Ask her for suggestions regarding how to reestablish a connection.

Please understand that this wounded 14-year-old is not mature enough to leap over this awkwardness on her own. You will need the other adults in her life to encourage this relationship and help it grow.

Do not dangle valuables over this scenario. That would reflect poorly on you.

Dear Amy: I was relieved to see your response to “Sharp End of the Stick,” who was attacked with a knife by a relative who had gone off his meds.

Thank you for emphasizing that she should not bow to any family pressure to spend time in this man’s presence. Even if the family member is now stable, she should not return until she feels safe.

— Survivor

Survivor: Thank you. This question was quite alarming.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency