Dear Annie: My husband passed away unexpectedly last year. During our 13-year marriage, unbeknownst to me, he had showered his adult children with gifts of all kinds, including vacations.

However, he was very frugal when it came to our wants and needs. I had no idea of the extent of the expenses until finding out in probate that his adult children got everything left to them: a cash amount over a million dollars, an undisclosed property, an undisclosed house and numerous other undisclosed gifts.

Well, there is a law regarding fiduciary duties, in that a spouse, by law, must inform the other spouse of these gifts and also get, in writing, that the other spouse knows and agrees to the gifts, whether it be money or items. In case of a divorce, the spouse, not having given the other spouse notice, nor obtaining, in writing, an agreement, will be responsible for restitution to the unknowing spouse.

— Upset About the Way Things Happened

Dear Upset: I am very sorry that you had to deal with all of these surprises after the unexpected death of your husband. Shock and grief compound each other, and I’d be cautious of them clouding your judgment, particularly in your relationship with your husband’s children.

Your husband deceived you, and sadly, he is not here to work through this with you. However, there are resources to help you come out of this a stronger person without resentment. A therapist or counselor can give you some emotional and mental support, and legal counsel can give you financial guidance. It might not be easy, but, slowly, that upset will diminish.

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