Friday, August 23, 2013

Who is to blame (importance of thinking things through)

Today I was dealing with aftermath of something my Dad (who died 6 months ago) has done.

Apparently he had fathered a child 29 years ago: in a different city and what is now a different country from Russia.

It came out during probate process: the child (well, now a 28 year old woman) somehow found out my Dad had passed away and put a claim for 1/3 of his assets.

Tricky part is that Dad's assets are comprised solely of our Moscow condo, which I have purchased (free and clear) for my parents and put my Dad's name on the deed because I didn't want them  to worry about a roof over their heads and was trying to avoid any legal complications (seeing how I don't live in Russia).

The situation is not black and white. Not at all. Just like the OP (and I agree with Cadet's assessment of that one from different viewpoints).

To me it all comes down to taking responsibility for one's own actions and never losing the sight of the "big picture".

Sure, having extramarital affair was not the right thing to do for my Dad. But I know that he was deeply unhappy and unfulfilled in his marriage. And my Mom is seriously impossible person to live/deal with (those whom are close to me know just how seriously-it goes way beyond "difficult" personality).
Also, my Dad always took care of our family (emotionally and financially). But he should have thought carefully about complications and consequences of fathering illegitimate child.

The woman who had my Dad's illegitimate child. Not nice to have an affair with a married man. But she probably knew he was unhappy and genuinely loved him.
Yet, in the end, it was her body and her decision to become pregnant and keep the baby. She, too, should have thought of consequences.

My Mom, although nearly impossible to live with, worked very hard all her life. She contributed a lot to our family's financial well-being and took care of it, albeit in her own way (but she genuinely thought she was doing what's best). She supported my Dad (again, in her own way) and took care of him when he was seriously ill for a few years.

My dad's illegitimate daughter. It's not her fault she was born in these circumstances. She probably feels abandoned by my Dad and is very resentful. 
However, we all have some sort of "hard life" story. For instance, I was on my own, at a young age in a foreign country (USA) with $300, a bag of clothes and a visitor visa (no source of income or any financial support). I've made it (all by myself), and, no, it was not easy at all.
When later my Dad lived with me in US for 6 years, he had a massive heart attack. As he had no health insurance, it cost me $83K (US) in hospital bills. I paid it off myself. 
Back in Russia, my Dad had two strokes in one week. My Mom took care of him and hospital bills.
Dad's illegitimate daughter was nowhere around, not even with a phone call or letter to ask how he was doing (yes, she knew his address and the phone number,as it became clear in probate hearing-in fact, her and her mother kept a watchful eye all these years).
Yet she attempts to claim 1/3 of assets that she hasn't work for from a man she had nothing to do with for 28 years.

Myself... Well, I don't need to tell you what I had to do to make my money... 
I love my Dad. Although I cannot live with my Mom, I do care about her.
It was heartbreaking to hear her screaming down the phone line: she was blindsided by the news, felt betrayed by my Dad and scared that she would lose her home at the age of 72...

I have financial resources and good lawyers to make this go away. I already have, in fact. But I certainly could have done without the stress and expense.

So I ponder the situation: several people made decisions that affected not only their lives, but the lives of others (even after death), people whom they loved and deeply cared about (at least at one time), people whom cared about them.

We should always, always think about the big picture, not lose the sight of forest for the trees. What we do today might have a huge ripple effect years from now. 
I said it before and I say it again: we are our own keepers.

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