"Was I wrong?" he asked. "Should I have left it as it was? It seemed so harsh."
"Ted deserves it," I said, "but if you want to err on the side of not being an asshole, that is fine with me."
Here is the exchange from today. Don't you just want to give Ted everything he wants because of his gracious approach?
Just in case anyone is wondering, I have not made up any of this. I am copying and pasting these emails directly, changing only the names.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: trust and education expenses
The trust language ("The Trustee shall apply so much of the income and principal of the trust fund as necessary or desirable for that grandchild's health, education, support, and maintenance") does allow trust assets to be used for educational expenses, but I assumed that you would be submitting a list of ongoing (i.e., current and planned) expenses for my consideration as trustee. When I wrote "YourSon's trust can certainly be used to pay for his educational expenses," I was not referring to expenses that had already been paid for past academic years. You did not make an explicit request in last week's email, but the spreadsheet appears to imply a request for payment to you of an amount that will be roughly equal to -- and possibly even greater than -- YourSon's expected share of the trust, which should be in the neighborhood of $150,000, as reimbursement for his past educational expenses.
I have discussed this with the lawyer. He and I agree that it will not be appropriate to use the trust assets to reimburse you for his past educational expenses, at least in the absence of student loans with outstanding balances that constitute current and future obligations. I understand that YourSon's educational expenses have been a burden for you in the past, but my parents already made a significant contribution toward those expenses; the purpose of YourSon's trust will be to use a share of what they left behind to improve his quality of life during the time after their deaths.
[Stuff about special needs] Having pointed that out, (1) I'm not a lawyer and (2) there are still legitimate concerns about YourSon's special needs and about what will happen if assets remain in his trust when he reaches the age of 30..... Please send a copy of the document(s) defining YourSon's existing special-needs trust. A full understanding of his existing special-needs trust will help to determine how his share of the trust should be directed for his short-term and long-term benefit.
Regarding my mother's jewelry, I used a magnifying glass to look closely at each piece I sent. The necklace with the rhinestones is an inexpensive (yes, "costume") Monet piece and the anklet (if I remember correctly) is sterling silver, but -- unless I made a mistake -- the two-tone bracelet (which appeared to be relatively new and was accompanied by one or two extra links that were in a small envelope) was marked "14K." It is not appropriate to refer to any piece of solid gold jewelry as "costume" jewelry. I assumed that I had found the correct bracelet when I sent the package, but I also found one other gold bracelet on the master bedroom carpet (after selling and moving a piece of furniture) just before leaving Florida a couple of weeks ago; I'm willing to send that to you as well. I assure you that I am not withholding and have no knowledge of any piece of jewelry that is supposed to be yours. I even took time to visit my parents' longtime favorite jewelry store (Blue Water Jewelers) last month to see if I could learn more about the bracelet that, according to both of you, was specifically mentioned by Dad. Unfortunately, I learned nothing useful from that encounter; there were no major purchases on record since the installation of the store's new computer system several years ago. (They did have a file, which contained only several orders for jewelry repairs.)
Ted'sWife, you wrote:
> May we please discuss this on a phone call, instead of lengthy emails?
As I mentioned in the last email, my preference is to discuss these difficult and sensitive issues in writing.
Because this is another long email, I will close by repeating my explicit request from a preceding paragraph: Please send a copy of YourSon's special-needs trust document(s).
Subject: Re: trust and education expenses
We shall reply to this after appropriate legal consultation. Just as Jack's children have outstanding educational loans, so does Ted'sSon.
Subject: Re: trust and education expenses
Also, Primo, you and the lawyer are out of your depth here and these emails are offensive and bordering on ridiculous. You communicate like a code jockey and not a human being.