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DEAR ABBY: You missed an opportunity to tell "Left Out in Minneapolis" the REAL "facts of life." She complained that although she and her boyfriend had lived together for more than 15 years, her name was omitted from the list of relatives in his sister's obituary. You told her that, technically, she is a friend -- not a relative -- and only family members are listed.

You should have told her two other things: (1) An obituary, like a marriage certificate, is just a piece of paper, so it's no big deal not being included in it; and (2) if she thinks his relatives were unkind to her then, wait until she sees what they do to her 50 percent of the home furnishings, cars, money, retirement savings, etc. that she thinks she and Tony jointly own, should he die before she does! -- TOO SMART NOT TO HAVE THAT "PIECE OF PAPER" IN NEW YORK

DEAR SMART: The lady didn't ask me what I thought the financial liabilities could be because of her choice of lifestyle. Had she done so, I would have pointed out the security and benefits of having a marriage certificate -- not the least of which are rights of inheritance and being able to make medical decisions should one's spouse become ill and unable to speak for himself or herself.

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