When my maternal-great-aunt died, my father wanted me to help him purchase her property. He currently owns a condo and the arrangement we made is that, once he buys my aunt’s house, I will move into his condo and pay the HOA fees.
A little more than a year ago, his longtime girlfriend, “Mary,” allowed her cousin, “Laura,” to move in with them at the condo. Laura is in her 30s and has brought along her two children, ages 20 and 10, with her.
‘I have an acrimonious, toxic roommate and our bouts have almost gotten physical.’
There are now five people living in a two-bedroom condo. They arranged for Laura to stay with them rent free until she found an apartment. This made me suspicious because Laura only works part time and a New York City apartment requires a decent income. In addition, I’m not sure if Laura even holds a work visa.
Now when I speak to my father about taking over his condo, I receive equivocal answers. I suspect that his girlfriend brought Laura to live there once my father buys the house. However, the condo is solely in my father’s name and he’s paid for it entirely. New York State does not recognize common law and I know his girlfriend only pays household bills.
I am my father’s only daughter; his three sons do not talk to him. My father is financially stable while I’ve always struggled even in childhood. I’m 30 and attempting to make a better life for myself. I put myself through college and have $10,000 left in school loans. I work a 9-5, have two side jobs, and an online business. I am also saving for graduate school.
The Moneyist:My wife and I have 3 kids. I also have 3 kids from a previous marriage. How should we split our house among these 6 children?
Living in the condo will help ease a tremendous financial burden as I am sometimes unable to muster two pennies to rub together. I have an acrimonious, toxic roommate and our bouts have almost gotten physical. I desperately need a place of my own and can’t afford an apartment. It would be a grotesque injustice for Laura to just “conveniently” receive a condo.
Both my parents have always been too willing to assist other people before making sure I was straight, which has often left me doing without. I’ve even offered to buy the condo from my father to ensure I had a place to live. If my dad allows Laura to stay there once he moves, I will terminate my relationship with him.
Please, tell me if I’m overreacting.
Just Trying to Secure a Future
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Whether you are overreacting or not is beside the point. You are entitled to feel the way you feel, and he is entitled to behave as he behaves. It’s more important that you realize this is your father’s home, your father’s life, your father’s girlfriend, and your father’s choices. If he is of sound mind and has not expressed any misgivings about this arrangement, I see no issue with him helping Laura and her two children for as long as he sees fit.
Even if your father were to leave you his condo in his will, it would not make up for all the times he was not there for you as a child, or all the times that he overlooked you, or all the times he chose to spend his time elsewhere. It would not take away the hurt, it would not erase that past, and it certainly would not rewrite it. If the price of that condo is having the father you would have liked to have had, it will never increase in value enough to give you what you need.
The Moneyist: My friend’s father buried $50K in the backyard for his grandchildren. My friend has 2 kids, but his spendthrift brother has none. Should they split it?
Your father is not responsible for your current situation with your roommate, and this is not a predicament that should rest uneasily or otherwise on the shoulders of your father’s girlfriend, her cousin or her cousin’s two children. Even your roommate is not responsible for this arrangement, or the fact that your arguments nearly came to blows. The only person accountable for that is you. You choose to stay there and engage with your roommate. Only you can resolve this situation.
Express to your father how you feel, diplomatically if you can, and leave it at that. There is one thing more valuable than this condo, more valuable than money itself, and that is your time. And every waking hour you spend ruminating over your father’s living arrangements is time you are taking away from the life that you should be living right here, right now. Disconnect from your father’s choices, and what he may or may not decide to do in the future.
You can’t control your father. You will cause yourself a great deal of unhappiness if you try.
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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch’s Moneyist columnist. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at [email protected]. By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch.