‘My father has abandoned me twice in my life’: I found him when I was 30, but he moved his girlfriend in — and disinherited me

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My father abandoned me when I was a baby and he and my mother divorced. He never paid any child support. All I ever knew of him was his name. When I turned 30 and had a 6-year-old son, I decided I needed to find him. 

With only his name and remembering that my mother had mentioned he may be living in Oklahoma, I called information and got three numbers for him. The first number I called was him. We talked, and he visited me and his grandson. (That was the only time he came to see us.)

I later had a daughter, and my kids and I have traveled to see him many times. My father and I had a real relationship; he called and sent birthday and Christmas cards. My dad told me he never remarried because he knew one day I would find him, and he would be ready.


‘He moved his girlfriend into his home, and he has given her access to all of his banking.’

My dad got pretty sick in 2019. He lives in Louisiana and I live in Texas. For years I have tried to get him to move closer to me and my kids, but Louisiana is his birthplace and home. My dad never remarried, but he had a girlfriend whom I had never met until he got really sick. 

He moved his girlfriend into his home, and he has given her access to all of his banking. He has taken me off all of his bank accounts, and I recently found out that he has disinherited me and made her his beneficiary. My father has abandoned me twice in my life.

His girlfriend does not let me know when he is sick or when he is in the hospital — nothing. She blocked me from her Facebook, and for some reason I am no longer my dad’s friend. What would you do? How can a parent treat their child that way?

Heartbroken

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Heartbroken,

Ultimately, it’s a mistake to see an inheritance as a proxy for your father’s love. 

What would I do? I would visit him in person to make sure he is happy and healthy, and not a victim of elder abuse, and do so without any financial agenda. You could contact his primary physician about your concerns and/or adult protective services in his town if you are concerned that he is being taken advantage of by this woman.

Time and memories build bonds, and I’m not sure that the relationship you have with him — given the amount of time you have spent together — can be compared to other real-time relationships. He may be a Hallmark Card father who has limitations you cannot change.

First off, it is very difficult to disinherit a child in Louisiana. Reasons to disinherit a child include: “the child has raised his hand to strike a parent, or has actually struck a parent;  but a mere threat is not sufficient, the child has been guilty, towards a parent, of cruel treatment, crime, or grievous injury.”

“Even if you want to leave all of your property to someone else, if you have children that fit into this category, Louisiana law does not allow you to bypass them. This is true even if you properly execute a valid Louisiana last will and testament and specifically state that you do not want them to inherit,” according to Andries Law Firm.


Ultimately, it’s a mistake to see an inheritance as a proxy for your father’s love. 

As for your inheritance, you will never be able to get those early years back, and no grand gesture or amount of money will make up for that. The line “My dad told me he never remarried because he knew one day I would find him, and he would be ready” is confusing — and, if that is literally what he told you, it also sounds manipulative, even if he meant it at the time.

Your father is free to do what he wants with his assets — while he is alive and notwithstanding any concerns you may have about elder abuse — but no amount of money will mean that he did or did not love your childhood self in absentia. Your value as a lovable human being is not dependent on your father — nor is it dependent on an inheritance from him.

You want him to be someone he is not. He is a human being who has weaknesses and flaws, fears and self-centeredness. No amount of wishing will turn him into the selfless, giving person you want him to become, and no amount of money will undo his absence.

Put your concerns about an inheritance aside — for now, at least — and accept him for who he is. If you do visit him, tell him that you love him — even if it’s the idea of him that you want to hang on to — and thank him for accepting you as his child when you found him. 

You can’t control how your father treats you. You do have control over the value you put on yourself. Thank him for being the person he is. You have no doubt learned more from him than you realize about your own strengths and ability to love, perhaps because of who he did not turn out to be rather than who he is.

Then go home to your children, and celebrate those bonds instead. Your kids can give you the love that you did not receive from your father as a child. And you can be the parent to your own children that your father never was to you. You can revisit the issue of inheritance and Louisiana’s laws on that subject at a later date.

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