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Family wishes to acknowledge friend’s support and devotion

DEAR ABBY: My family has suffered a great loss. My older sister died by suicide. My younger sister’s best friend “Carrie” drove four hours from Michigan to be with our family. From the day after we found out and for almost a week, Carrie was by our side, comforting us, helping with arrangements and anything else that needed to be done. She even worked all night with our old family videos to digitize, edit and set them to music so it would be done in time for the wake.
Now, as we are beginning to write thank-you notes to all of those who were there for us, my family is wondering how we can express our gratitude to her for her support during this awful time. We would like to do or give her something special because we truly consider her to be a part of our family, but we don’t know what. — APPRECIATIVE IN THE EAST
        
DEAR APPRECIATIVE: The head of the family or your younger sister should write Carrie a letter telling her how much her kindness is appreciated and telling her she is now truly a member of the family. I’m sure it would mean the world to her. In addition, consider giving her something that belonged to your older sister, such as a piece of jewelry. Your younger sister should be the person to select it. A keepsake would, I am sure, be deeply appreciated and treasured.
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DEAR ABBY: At age 17, my pregnant and unwed mother married a schoolmate of my biological father. I was given the schoolmate’s last name. Several years later, my mother divorced her first husband and married my biological father. They discussed changing my last name to that of my bio father, but never did. I recently had DNA testing that proved this information to be accurate.
My last name is still not the name of my biological father, and I recently learned that the man named on my birth certificate was a rapist, an alcoholic and a bully. This is very upsetting, and I would like to legally change my name to match my actual father’s. The problem is I’m now 70, married with wonderful kids and grandkids who are proud of our name. I don’t want the fake daddy’s name on my tombstone. Any advice for this distressed guy? — DISTRESSED SENIOR MAN
        
DEAR DISTRESSED: Talk to your family about why you want the name change. Perhaps when they hear that the person whose name was thrust upon you was a rapist and substance abusing bully who mistreated your mother, they will be more understanding and less willing to cling to the name they are so “proud” of. If not, then suit yourself. I wish you luck.
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DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been living together for 10 years, although he is still legally married. When we met, he and his wife had been separated for five years. Neither one had the money to get divorced. My question is, if anything should happen to my boyfriend, would she have claim to any of his assets? (He doesn’t have much beyond his vehicle.) — JUST WONDERING IN PENNSYLVANIA
        
DEAR JUST WONDERING: Yes, as his surviving spouse, she will be entitled to whatever assets he leaves behind, which includes the vehicle.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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