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1069 Disinheriting a Child

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,069 – Disinheriting a Child.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,069. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast. If you do, you can download a Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue between Vince and Alana about what happens with a child, one of your children, who does something that makes you angry. We’ll find out what Vince’s solution is in a moment. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Vince: That’s it! I’ve had it with Daniel defying me at every turn. I want him to follow in my footsteps and study law, but he wants to be an artist. He dates girls I don’t approve of. But this! This is beyond the bounds of what I’ll tolerate.

Alana: I know you’re upset, but don’t do anything rash. I’m sure Daniel didn’t mean what he said.

Vince: Oh, he meant it. That’s it! I’m disowning and disinheriting him.

Alana: I’m sure you don’t mean that. You both spoke in anger. I’m sure a cooling-off period of a few days will change his mind.

Vince: It’ll be too late. I’m cutting him out of my will tomorrow. I have other descendants who’ll appreciate inheriting my money and property.

Alana: But Daniel is your rightful heir. He’s your only child.

Vince: Then he should have known how his hateful words would hurt me.

Alana: What did he say exactly?

Vince: He said he has become a San Francisco Giants fan. A Giants fan!

Alana: That’s it?

Vince: That’s it?! He’s wounded me to the core!

[end of dialogue]

Vince begins by saying to Alana, “That’s it!” When someone says, “That’s it!” they mean this is the final action that I’m going to put up with or tolerate. We say it when we’re angry and frustrated. Vince is angry and frustrated. He says, “I’ve had it with Daniel defying me at every turn.” When we say we’ve “had it” with someone or something, we mean that we are tired of it. We are frustrated by something. We no longer will tolerate it or put up with it.

Vince is tired of Daniel defying him at every turn. “To defy” (defy) someone means to refuse to obey someone, to say no when someone tells you to do something. That’s what Daniel is doing. He’s defying Vince at every turn. The expression “at every turn” means frequently, repeatedly – every time the possibility arises, every time the situation arises. Daniel is taking the opportunity of saying no to Vince.

Vince says, “I want him to follow in my footsteps and study law, but he wants to be an artist.” “To follow in someone’s footsteps” (footsteps) means to do what another person has done, especially the same kind of job or profession that another person has. So, for example, if your father was a teacher and you decide to become a teacher, we might say that you have followed in your father’s footsteps.

My father was a teacher. I became a teacher. So I, in fact, followed in my father’s footsteps. Your “footsteps” literally are the places where you put your foot down on the ground. If you walk in an area that has very soft dirt or mud, you will leave “footprints,” just like your fingers leave fingerprints when you touch something. Footprints come from your footsteps – the places where your foot touches the ground.

Vince wants Daniel to become a lawyer – to study law – but Daniel wants to be an artist. Vince says that Daniel “dates girls I don’t approve of.” “To date” a girl would be to go out on a date, a romantic meeting, with a girl (or boy). “I don’t approve of” is an expression we use to mean “I don’t think is a good idea.” So, like I suppose a lot of sons, Daniel is going out on dates, getting romantically involved, with women that Vince doesn’t approve of, that his father doesn’t approve of.

This never really happened to me. In fact, when I would come home with a girlfriend, my parents would always ask me why the girl was going out with me. They would tell the girl, “Hey, you can find somebody better than this guy, right?” So, I had the opposite problem. Vince, getting back to our story, has a problem with his son, Daniel. He says, “This is beyond the bounds of what I’ll tolerate.”

So, clearly Daniel has done something that Vince doesn’t like. He says it’s “beyond the bounds” (bounds) of what he’ll tolerate. If we say something is “beyond the bounds,” we mean it’s gone past what you think is acceptable. It has gone past the limits of something. Alana says, “I know you’re upset, but don’t do anything rash.” “To do something rash” (rash) is to do something in a hurry, quickly, but without thinking of what might happen, the bad consequences of what might happen.

We use this word especially when someone makes a quick decision about something in anger or because he’s frustrated, without really thinking about it carefully and clearly. Alana says, “I’m sure Daniel didn’t mean what he said.” Daniel has said something to Vince that Vince doesn’t like. Alana is saying that he probably didn’t mean it, meaning he said it, but he didn’t really believe it.

Vince disagrees. He says, “Oh, he meant it. That’s it. I’m disowning and disinheriting him.” “To disown” (disown) someone is to refuse to help or support one of your children, your son or your daughter. You say, “I’m not going to have any relationship with that person. I’m not going to help them. I’m not going to support them.” It is as if that person were no longer your child. That’s “to disown” someone. “To disinherit” (disinherit) means that you are not going to give anything to that person – any money or any property – when you die.

Normally, when your parents die, the money or possessions that they have would legally become yours – at least, unless they wrote out a special document called a “will” (will) that specifies where their money and property should go after their deaths. So for a parent to disinherit a child is, of course, a very serious thing. The parent is saying that the child will not get any of their money or property when the parent dies. Alana tries to calm things down. She says, “I’m sure you don’t mean that. You both spoke in anger.”

“To speak in anger” means to say something when you’re mad, and often when we speak in anger, we say things that we don’t really mean. We say things to hurt another person or to get another person angry. Alana says, “I’m sure a cooling-off period of a few days will change his,” meaning Daniel’s, “mind.” “To cool off” means to become calm and relaxed after you have been angry and upset. A “cooling-off period” would be time when two people agree basically not to communicate with each other, talk to each other, so both of them can calm down.

Vince says, “It’ll be too late. I’m cutting him out of my will tomorrow.” We already explained what a will is. It’s a legal document that specifies where or to whom your money goes when you die. “To cut someone out of your will” means to say this person was going to get some money, but now he’s not. You’re eliminating that person from your will. You’re no longer giving that person any money or property.

Vince says, “I have other descendants who will appreciate inheriting my money and property.” Your “descendants” (descendants) are people who are related to you, but usually younger than you. Your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren – those people would be your descendants. “To inherit” (inherit) means to get money from someone who has died. Vince is saying that he has other people who are related to him who will appreciate his money and property when he dies, so he’s saying that other people will be thankful and grateful for getting his money, unlike Daniel.

Alana says, however, “Daniel is your rightful heir.” Your “heir” (heir) is a person who receives your money or property when you die. Usually we talk about an heir when referring to children – the children that you have. Your “rightful (rightful) heir” is the person who should receive the money. It is the person who – by custom, tradition, or law – gets your money and property when you die.

So, in the United States, for example, if you die and you don’t leave a will – that is, you don’t make a legal agreement or write out a legal document specifying where your money and property should go when you die – your rightful heirs are your children if you have children, or your spouse, your husband or wife, if you’re married. What if you’re not married and have no children?

Well, then the money goes to your closest relatives, perhaps a brother or a cousin or a nephew. If you’re writing out a will and you don’t know whom you should give your money to, you should just put my name in there: Jeffrey McQuillan of Los Angeles, California. I’d be happy to take your money and property when you die, which I hope is not soon of course . . . not too soon.

Alana reminds Vince that Daniel is his only child. Vince replies, “Then he should have known how his hateful words would hurt me.” Alana says, “What did he say exactly?” meaning what were the words that Daniel used that made Vince so angry. Vince says, “He said he has become a San Francisco Giants fan. A Giants fan!” he says in frustration. The San Francisco Giants are a professional baseball team. As often happens in sports, different teams become rivals, meaning they compete against each other and have a particular dislike for each other.

Here in California, we have several different professional baseball teams, including the San Francisco Giants and my favorite team, which is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sometimes two teams in particular are enemies of each other even more than they are of other teams, and that’s the case with the Giants and the Dodgers. Vince is saying that his son has become a San Francisco Giants fan, and we can guess that Vince is a Dodger fan. Alana is surprised that Vince is so angry about this.

She says, “That’s it?” meaning that’s the only thing he did to make you mad and to make you want to disown him? Vince is shocked: “That’s it?! He’s wounded me to the core!” The phrase “to the core” (core) means completely and entirely. “To wound” (wound) someone is to hurt someone, either physically or, as is the case in our dialogue, psychologically or emotionally. Vince is saying that his son has really hurt him by becoming a fan of the San Francisco Giants, and frankly, I can understand what Vince is talking about here.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Vince: That’s it! I’ve had it with Daniel defying me at every turn. I want him to follow in my footsteps and study law, but he wants to be an artist. He dates girls I don’t approve of. But this! This is beyond the bounds of what I’ll tolerate.

Alana: I know you’re upset, but don’t do anything rash. I’m sure Daniel didn’t mean what he said.

Vince: Oh, he meant it. That’s it! I’m disowning and disinheriting him.

Alana: I’m sure you don’t mean that. You both spoke in anger. I’m sure a cooling-off period of a few days will change his mind.

Vince: It’ll be too late. I’m cutting him out of my will tomorrow. I have other descendants who’ll appreciate inheriting my money and property.

Alana: But Daniel is your rightful heir. He’s your only child.

Vince: Then he should have known how his hateful words would hurt me.

Alana: What did he say exactly?

Vince: He said he has become a San Francisco Giants fan. A Giants fan!

Alana: That’s it?

Vince: That’s it?! He’s wounded me to the core!

[end of dialogue]

There’s nothing I don’t approve of in the scripts of our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to have it – to be extremely frustrated by something so that one will no longer tolerate it

* I’ve had it with your complaining! Find something nice to say, or don’t say anything at all.

to defy – to refuse to obey someone; to oppose someone and his or her instructions

* Is it acceptable to defy rules that we believe are unreasonable?

at every turn – every time; frequently; repeatedly; continually

* In an old house, something breaks and requires fixing at every turn.

to follow in (one’s) footsteps – to do what another person has done, especially to make the same professional choices and have the same career path as another person

* Amy dreams of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a well-known architect.

to approve of – to think that something is good or acceptable and to give one’s permission or blessing for something to happen

* Opinion polls show that very few citizens approve of the president’s actions.

beyond the bounds – past the limits of something; haven taken something to an extreme level, past what is acceptable

* Their arguments have gone beyond the bounds of simple disagreements, and they are now considering divorce.

rash – hasty and rushed, without considering the potentially bad consequences of one’s actions or words

* They made a rash decision to sell their home after prices had fallen significantly.

to disown – to refuse to acknowledge someone, especially a child, as part of one’s family and to refuse to have any relationship with that person

* What circumstances could cause a mother to disown her child? It seems impossible.

to speak in anger – to say things when one is very angry and passionate, without thinking about what one is saying or the consequences of one’s words

* Please forgive me. I spoke in anger, but I didn’t really mean what I said.

cooling-off period – a period of time when people agree to stop arguing and try to think more calmly about something before continuing the discussion

* Whenever Hannah gets really mad at an employee, she always has a cooling-off period before making any firing decisions.

to cut (someone) out of (something) – to remove and exclude someone from something

* I thought our firms were partners. Why were we cut out of the deal?

will – a written, legal document specifying how one’s money, property, and other things of value will be distributed after one’s death

* In accordance with their will, 50% of all their cash will be donated to local nonprofit organizations.

descendant – a person who is related to an older person in the family, but is one or more generations younger, such as a child, grandchild, great-grandchild, etc.

* Ingrid is a proud descendant of a Cherokee tribal chief.

to inherit – to receive money, property, or other valuable assets that previously belonged to someone who passed away

* Who inherited Grandma’s diamond and sapphire ring?

rightful heir – a person who receives or should receive the money, property, or other valuable assets that are transferred when someone dies, especially when talking about the children of the person who has died

* Prince Charles is the rightful heir to the throne.

to wound (someone) – to hurt someone either physically or emotionally

* When Kelly found out her husband had cheated, it wounded her and she hasn’t been able to trust anyone since then.

to the core – completely and entirely, involving the entire body

* Those sounds and screams frightened me to the core!

Comprehension Questions
1. What will happen if Vince cuts Daniel out of his will?
a) Vince won’t talk to Daniel ever again.
b) None of Vince’s money or property will pass to Daniel after death.
c) Vince will never try to persuade Daniel to do anything.

2. What does Vince mean when he says, “He’s wounded me to the core”?
a) His son has hurt his feelings.
b) His son did something very surprising.
c) His son attacked him physically.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
rash

The word “rash,” in this podcast, means hasty and rushed, without considering the potentially bad consequences of one’s actions or words: “Years ago, Helen made a rash decision to lend her brother money to buy a car, but she regrets it because he has never paid her back.” When talking about skin, a “rash” is a lot of small red spots or similar marks that appear on the skin, often as a result of a disease or as a result of contacting a material that irritates the skin: “Don’t touch the poison oak, or you might get a rash.” Or, “Don’t you think you should get a doctor to look at that rash on your back?” Finally, the phrase “a rash of (something)” refers to may unpleasant events that happen over a short period of time: “Doctors were surprised by the recent rash of respiratory illnesses in young children in the past year.”

will

In this podcast, the word “will” means a written, legal document specifying how one’s money, property, and other things of value will be distributed after one’s death: “It’s a good idea to write or update your will after you get married or have children.” The word “will” can also refer to one’s determination to do something: “Suwat has some serious injuries, but he has a very strong will to live, so the doctors think he will recover.” The phrase “where there’s a will there’s a way” means that if people want something bad enough, they will find a way to succeed even if it is difficult: “Nobody has found a way to end poverty yet, but we’ll keep trying. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Culture Note
The U.S. Probate Process

In the United States, “probate” is the legal process that officially recognizes a will and “appoints” (names someone to a particular position) the “executor” or another individual who will be responsible for administering the “estate” (all the money, items of value, and affairs of the person who has died) and “distributing” (giving to many people) the assets. In some states, the probate process is required by law. In other states, part or all of the probate process may be “avoided” (unnecessary; not required) if the will is written in the right way.

Many people are concerned about the cost and length of the probate process, although in most cases the process is not as expensive or “drawn-out” (taking a long time) as people fear. Most of the delay in transferring assets to “beneficiaries” (the people who receive benefits, especially payments from an insurance policy or an inheritance from a will) is caused by “tax filing requirements” (requirements to submit papers calculating the amount of tax owned). “Nevertheless” (even though this is true), many people try to “arrange their affairs” (control the way things will be handled) to avoid the probate process after death.

One common way to avoid the probate process is to have all the assets be “jointly owned” (owned by two people, most commonly a husband and wife), so that they pass to the “spouse” (husband or wife) of the “deceased” (the person who has died). Another way to avoid the probate process is to “transfer” (move) all the assets to a “living trust” (all money and things of value are placed into accounts that will be handled by someone else when someone dies). Some people choose this option because they believe it will allow their descendants to receive their inheritance more quickly and without paying high probate fees to the government.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a