Dear Annie: My mother has made me executor of her estate and given me power of attorney over her medical care. My parents divorced when we were young, and my brother and I didn't have contact with my mother for several years. She now lives far away and is in poor health. I drive back and forth from another state to check on her, and I phone twice a week.

The problem? My brother, "Mike," never calls Mom or returns her calls and won't see her, but she constantly makes excuses for his behavior and still plans to leave half her inheritance to him.

I don't think Mom has much time left, and I want Mike to contact her before she passes away. I have told him this repeatedly. Is there any way I can use my position as executor to "blackmail" him into calling her?

—Last Will & Testament

Dear Last Will: No. As executor, you are expected to fulfill the requests of the deceased. Unless your mother adds a stipulation that Mike won't inherit unless he calls her, she has no leverage at all, and even then, he may choose to ignore her and skip the inheritance. Obviously, Mike is still carrying around a great deal of hurt from the divorce. You may have better luck if you can lovingly explain to him that at some point, it will be too late to see his mother and he could be left with regrets that can never be resolved. More than that you cannot do.

Dear Annie: I have been married to my husband for 25 years. About 15 years ago, my husband's son graduated from college. I elected not to attend as I did not want his ex or kids to be uncomfortable. A family picture was taken and, of course, his ex was in it. His parents have this picture hanging in their home, and it's the first thing you see upon entering.

I don't care if they hang this picture, but it seems insulting that they put it where I am assaulted by it. A few years ago, my stepson divorced and remarried, and this same picture also has his ex-wife in it. His new wife isn't very pleased, either.

My husband has asked his parents to hang the picture in their bedroom, but my in-laws have said they will not remove it because it's part of their family history. I think it is disrespectful to flaunt it if it offends others. Are my daughter-in- law and I wrong in our thinking?

—Miffed in Memphis

Dear Miffed: Of course not. Considerate in-laws will put such family history where it does not annoy the current spouses. However, it is their house and they can hang their pictures wherever they want. Consider presenting them with a more up-to-date photograph to replace it.

Dear Annie: My husband works for a well-known service provider and people often air their complaints to him. When my husband went for his annual prostate checkup, the urologist noticed his work ID badge and, as my husband was standing there with his pants around his ankles, said, "I hate your company." Today, the dentist told him, "Now we know whose house to toilet paper when we have a problem."

I find this behavior completely unprofessional. These people are paid by the insurance that is provided by my husband's employer. My husband doesn't work in customer service, and even if he did, they should not complain when he is seeking personal medical care. How do we let them know their criticisms are unwanted?

—Enough in Michigan

Dear Michigan: You should let your husband handle this as he chooses, but we'd tell these people, "I won't insult your profession if you won't insult mine."


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.


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