Wedding Woes

If you feel it should go to family, send it to your ex-SIL.

Dear Prudence,

My marriage was a misery that only got worst after my husband died. We were separated at the time. My adult stepdaughters did everything short of accusing me of murder in order to steal away the estate. They were not happy with getting personal effects of their father and what was promised to them in the will— they tried to take everything that wasn’t nailed down. And then came back with a crow bar. His apartment had been ransacked and his work truck had expensive equipment go missing. I had to work with his employer to get the items back from my stepdaughters. It took the threat of a lawsuit to make them cough it up. The stress was so bad I started to lose my hair.

I had given back my engagement ring to my husband after we separated, since it belonged to his grandmother. I had no idea what he did with it as it wasn’t in his box at the bank. My stepdaughters accused me of deliberately hiding it from them. They confronted me at the funeral. One of them nearly got physical with me and a family friend had to get between us. I finally had to get a restraining order against two of my stepdaughters because of their continual harassment of me. We were never close, but I was never anything but fair to my stepdaughters. I gave them everything their father left them in his will and other sentimental items that he didn’t, like their grandmother’s quilts. I didn’t deserve to be treated like this.

After nearly two years, I finally decided to sell my husband’s old sports car. He was a pack rat, so I had the car professionally cleaned. The ring and a large wad of cash turned up tucked away in the emergency kit. I gave half the cash as a reward to the honest cleaner, but I don’t know what to do about the ring. I do not want to reengage with my former stepdaughters. At all. They were not close to their father at all and despite inheriting his generous life insurance policy, they want after my home and even the vacation house I inherited from my parents. Part of me just wants to toss the ring into the ocean. Part of me wants to send the ring anonymously to my gay ex sister-in-law. She was always at least polite to my face. And it would drive my stepdaughters nuts to see the family ring on her finger, despite the fact none of them have ever been married but have a multitude of children. Am I being petty, practical, or personally setting up family conflict here?

— One Ring

Re: If you feel it should go to family, send it to your ex-SIL.

  • If you don’t want it, and think it should go to family, send it to SIL and be done. If you want to keep it I think that’s fine too. Maybe sit with this a bit longer, put it in a safe deposit and wait until you have a better sense of what you really think is best. 
    STARMOON44
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'd send it to the SIL. 
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I'd send it to the SIL.  I'd also change my number or block ex-SD's numbers (if you have them).  If they try to contact you, enforce the restraining order.

    But I wouldn't want the ring in my possession any longer.   
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I think the ring really should go back to that family.  SiL for sure, and she can do what she wants with it, once it’s out of your hands, you won’t know who ends up with it.

  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    OK. I'm glad most people say to give it to the sister because I feel like Prudie's advice is way off on this one. 

    Dear One Ring,

    You have a variation of the Rose in Titanic problem, although to be fair the submariners who were looking for the Gem of the Ocean necklace weren’t her abusive ex-stepdaughters. But I suggest you both share a solution. Rose decided to keep the necklace’s location to herself and (spoilers for Titanic) toss it into the ocean at the end. This was controversial, in my opinion. She could have pawned it or opened up a Smithsonian with it or bought Twitter 20 years in the future. It’s less controversial in your case. It feels impractical and unhealthy for you to invite your ex-stepdaughters back into your life after successfully extricating yourself. They didn’t engage with you in good faith at all, and while that doesn’t justify depriving them of the ring, I think it makes a big difference here. Ethically, it may be gray, but you wrote to me, not The Ethicist, and I think that ring should never go back to them.

    That said, giving it to ex-sister-in-law is going to poke the hornet’s nest and invite even more drama into your life. I think the objective here should be getting away from this family for good.

    Part of inheriting heirlooms is becoming stewards of their stories and legacies. A piece of stolen artwork that was passed down should be returned. A contentious plot of family land isn’t going to get less contentious after the will is settled. In the same way, the energy that your ex-stepdaughters brought into their interaction with you, and the energy that your ex-husband brought into your marriage, are tied to that ring. Nothing is without cost or repercussion. Initially, I thought you should sell it and do something good with the money, but I don’t know if possessing the ring at all exposes you to legal liability with the estate. I’m not a lawyer. I think it’s best for you to just get rid of it. Give it to Goodwill or someplace similar. Release yourself.
  • ei34ei34 member
    Ninth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Another vote for giving it to the SIL.
  • I find it weird that, in one breath, Prudie is saying not to give it back to anyone.  But, in the next breath, she is talking about that stolen art passed down should be returned to the original owner.  The ring obviously isn't stolen, but it's the same idea.

    The whole reason she gave the ring back to her estranged H is because it is a family heirloom.  And, good news, there is a family member that she doesn't have a contentious relationship with.

    Plus, assuming this is the H's sister, I think that's who the ring should go to anyway.  The SIL is the same "generation" as the H.  Even if the LW did have a good relationship with the stepdaughter's.  The SIL can then chose to keep it.  Or pass it down to one her children.  Or the first stepdaughter to get married.  The main thing is that it is staying in the family, which is what the H would have wanted.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    MNNEBride
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    #Team give it to the ex-SIL. 

    But why did LW need to mention that SIL is gay? 
    mrsconn23MesmrEweVarunaTTcharlotte989875
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    #Team give it to the ex-SIL. 

    But why did LW need to mention that SIL is gay? 
    Agreed.  IDK why that's a pertinent detail.  Also, LW got in a dig about ex-SD's having kids and not being married.  Plus says the daughters were estranged from their daughter. 

    Also while I understand an estate can be challenged in probate court, but unless the dad had a will that LW wasn't honoring, he and LW were legally separated/in divorce process, or something else official, doesn't the spouse have the strongest claim to the estate?  Why did they get his life insurance, try to go after the house, and LW's supposed family vacation house?  Something isn't adding up about all of this.  At the very least, it sounds like LW's marriage to this guy was a chaotic shitshow.  
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    mrsconn23 said:
    #Team give it to the ex-SIL. 

    But why did LW need to mention that SIL is gay? 
    Agreed.  IDK why that's a pertinent detail.  Also, LW got in a dig about ex-SD's having kids and not being married.  Plus says the daughters were estranged from their daughter. 

    Also while I understand an estate can be challenged in probate court, but unless the dad had a will that LW wasn't honoring, he and LW were legally separated/in divorce process, or something else official, doesn't the spouse have the strongest claim to the estate?  Why did they get his life insurance, try to go after the house, and LW's supposed family vacation house?  Something isn't adding up about all of this.  At the very least, it sounds like LW's marriage to this guy was a chaotic shitshow.  
    My supposition is that his will was drafted while they were happily married, they separated but he hadn't updated will. (Most people wait until divorce is finalized if they even remember to update .) He could have updated insurance beneficiaries easily, though. Then adult kids are salty because Will didn't really reflect what he wanted at the time of death and challenge it. Or maybe the vacation house was originally titled with their mother and they're using her name to challenge? 

    But I'm making assumptions based on absolutely no facts.
    mrsconn23
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    mrsconn23 said:
    #Team give it to the ex-SIL. 

    But why did LW need to mention that SIL is gay? 
    Agreed.  IDK why that's a pertinent detail.  Also, LW got in a dig about ex-SD's having kids and not being married.  Plus says the daughters were estranged from their daughter. 

    Also while I understand an estate can be challenged in probate court, but unless the dad had a will that LW wasn't honoring, he and LW were legally separated/in divorce process, or something else official, doesn't the spouse have the strongest claim to the estate?  Why did they get his life insurance, try to go after the house, and LW's supposed family vacation house?  Something isn't adding up about all of this.  At the very least, it sounds like LW's marriage to this guy was a chaotic shitshow.  
    I'm guessing the LW was getting out of that chaotic **itshow (step-kids were probably a major part of said split) and suddenly had to deal with an untimely passing but they weren't far enough along in the process that the will wouldn't stand as written.  If the vacation property had the what would have been ex-H name anywhere on the paperwork, they probably were trying to go for everything they could in court.  It doesn't make it right, but anyone can sue for anything and "they just wanted what was rightfully theirs!"..

    As for mentioning the SIL being Gay, it's probably the ex-SD dynamic where SIL probably wouldn't be afraid to flaunt the ring and it'd rub salt in the ex-SD situation.  Regardless of that, I'm team "Send the SIL the ring with the "This was your Grandmother's, wear it with joy!"..  
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    MesmrEwe said:
    mrsconn23 said:
    #Team give it to the ex-SIL. 

    But why did LW need to mention that SIL is gay? 
    Agreed.  IDK why that's a pertinent detail.  Also, LW got in a dig about ex-SD's having kids and not being married.  Plus says the daughters were estranged from their daughter. 

    Also while I understand an estate can be challenged in probate court, but unless the dad had a will that LW wasn't honoring, he and LW were legally separated/in divorce process, or something else official, doesn't the spouse have the strongest claim to the estate?  Why did they get his life insurance, try to go after the house, and LW's supposed family vacation house?  Something isn't adding up about all of this.  At the very least, it sounds like LW's marriage to this guy was a chaotic shitshow.  
    I'm guessing the LW was getting out of that chaotic **itshow (step-kids were probably a major part of said split) and suddenly had to deal with an untimely passing but they weren't far enough along in the process that the will wouldn't stand as written.  If the vacation property had the what would have been ex-H name anywhere on the paperwork, they probably were trying to go for everything they could in court.  It doesn't make it right, but anyone can sue for anything and "they just wanted what was rightfully theirs!"..

    As for mentioning the SIL being Gay, it's probably the ex-SD dynamic where SIL probably wouldn't be afraid to flaunt the ring and it'd rub salt in the ex-SD situation.  Regardless of that, I'm team "Send the SIL the ring with the "This was your Grandmother's, wear it with joy!"..  
    Being gay means she wouldn't be afraid to flaunt the ring? What?
    levioosaCasadenamrsconn23
  • kerbohlkerbohl member
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Answer
    Team give it to SIL and wash your hands of this.
    I also don't get why she mentioned that SIL was gay, UNLESS the thought was that for some reason SIL doesn't have kids and can't keep passing it down to generations?  But just because she is gay doesn't mean that she is childless .... I don't know.  If that were the case, I would have said "childless SIL" instead of "gay SIL".

    MesmrEwe
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