Dear Abby: My husband and I are having a major disagreement concerning our two sons' inheritance. When we die, our sons will inherit everything 50-50, with the exception of our family business, which is worth a considerable amount of money. My husband has already turned the business over to our eldest son, "Donald." My husband feels that Donald has earned this because "he stayed with us." Donald and his family have enjoyed a very prosperous life because of the family business.

"Steve," our younger son, started his own business in a different field. He has always struggled, and his family has never known the same level of comfort as Donald's. This troubles me.I am trying to convince my husband that we should give Steve at least part of his inheritance while we are alive. He needs the money to enlarge his business. We would never miss the money. I think it's fair, but my husband refuses to let Steve have it until we're both dead. What do you think, Abby?

- Saddened Mother

Dear Saddened Mother: I see no reason to withhold the money from Steve, when to give it to him now would help him and his family.

Unless your husband can give you a valid reason, which does not include standing on ceremony, I recommend consulting with an attorney and arranging to give your struggling son a helping hand.

Dear Abby: In response to the woman who cannot forget that her parents were not truthful with her regarding when they got married, here is another story about the same thing:

My mother recently got the shock of her life. While trying to obtain a passport, she received a letter stating that the information she submitted was incorrect. It appears that Mom's father was not her father, and there is no official record of her birth. Also, the maiden name my mother, my siblings and I have used on official documents was the wrong name!

Our grandmother is too ill to explain why she led us to believe that the man we called "Grandpa" was Mom's father when he wasn't.

When my brother tried to obtain a Social Security number for his infant daughter, he was told there was a problem. My sister and I have received letters from Social Security periodically stating that there was a problem with the name listed. We used to assume that it was because of our name changes upon marriage. We do not assume so anymore.

Abby, our family is trying to sort out this whole mess. My mother will be eligible for Social Security in a few years and is understandably concerned. All of the emotional issues aside, none of this would have occurred if Gran had not lied.

Thank God, my life is an open book! I assured my children, at one point, that they will never wake up to find that their father is not really their father, that I had other children, or that I may not be their mother.

Once our sense of humor returns, I think we will write Gran's memoirs. Thank you, Abby, for existing.

- Stunned On the West Coast

Dear Stunned: I'm sure the memoirs will make fascinating reading. Your letter calls to mind Sir Walter Scott's memorable quote, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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