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My parents are getting on and they want the three of us children to decide which of their things we want before they go so that there are no problems, which I appreciate.
My mother in particular has amassed an amazing collection of southwest rugs, pots, sculptures, baskets and other artifacts in her 50+ years of collecting (no, you can't have any). She works in museums doing restoration work and has a Master's in textiles, so she knows her stuff and knows how to take care of it. Add the fact that my father really knows where to look (his father brought him along while he built the bridges on Route 66 (yes, very widely spaced generations)).
It really is truly amazing, valuable stuff. She's modest, but I suspect taking it onto ''Antiques Roadshow'' might be epic. But we don't really want or need more than a token amount of it as it doesn't fit our taste. To be honest, I don't think it fits either of my sibling's taste either (one is into Frank Lloyd Wright, the other surburban chic).
I don't wish to feel like I'm snubbing her, but I don't want to take things only to hide them away or immediately put them on the auction block. Advice? Son
I've been in the situation of dividing property among family a couple of times after a death, and I must admit that it can be tricky, even among reasonable and thoughtful people, but I'm not sure that doing it ahead of time really helps, although it is very kind of your mother to try! I would definitely recommend making it clear that you plan to treasure the few items you keep and pass them on to your own children, if you have them, and I will add my voice of experience to say that I have often wished I took more to have those items to pass on to my own children, so I'd err on the side of asking for a little more than you think you want and realize you can change your mind later. Within reason, of course, lest your closets be bursting with unwanted emotionally-laden objects. -Hoping no one's feelings get hurt
I know it all sounds simple. But that's what I would do. Sounds like their stuff is too valuable to pass up. If you don't like it and don't want it, you can always do something with the VALUE that they represent. If you transfer them into MONEY, you can do something with the MONEY and transform it into something that YOU want.
I think you won't hurt your parents' feelings if you explain that you are keeping their stuff safe in the rental unit. You just don't have space for them in your living space right now. Hope this helps. burk
Of course if you hope to eventually get the value of the stuff by selling it, that won't work, but overall I think just being honest is the best policy.
I would also consider taking some of it and storing it for a while; you might have your tastes change in later years and really wish you had kept some of her beautiful pieces. Good luck and long life to your parents
My father collected George Stirling books (local author) and very much enjoyed collecting them. He donated his collection to the Oakland Library (or was it Berkeley?) anyway I would discuss the possibility of donation or auction with your Mom. If the collection is that nice it would be more equitable to distribute the proceeds to family members or to donate so all family members could appreciate. If that isn't a possibility I would express interest in the collection and then donate in her name after she is gone. I donated many things to appropriate places when my parents died. It seemed the best way to pass on their legacy. William Morris said, ''Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.'' Good luck! Kwheat
Unless you or your siblings have made promises along the way to secure or take care of your parents belongings when they die, then I suggest you just say partially what you've already said: open to picking a momento.
Your parents are wise to start minimizing their belongings or else this does get left to the kids. They now have control over what person or organization gets what. It can feel like a burden for some people and they may need help to ''part'' with these objects which may have many memories connected to them.
I'd thank them for offering you all the first choice, then ask them if they've had some ideas over the years of how they'd like their collection to be distributed or if they had a plan. Ask them how they feel about parting w/ their collection. They may feel burdened and/or rushed to minimize or overwhelmed w/ the job of it all. If they've had no plan, then maybe one of you can offer to do some research and come up w/ some ideas. Certainly, selling items is obvious option. Good Luck. Monica
We need advice and/or a recommendation for a someone who could give us advice....we recently inherited this large sum of money and are struggling with what to do with it in the short and long term. We are a family of 3, owe couple hundred thousand on our Oakland house, have not saved much for retirement (but expect more inheritance down the road), and our daughter has a college fund that her grandfather contributes to...We are not financially savvy AT ALL and don't know what to do with it beyond taking care of household/yard concerns. Should we renovate our small house that we are outgrowing, move to an area with better schools, invest? Anybody have general recommendations? We are so afraid to make the wrong choice that it is simply sitting in our bank savings account. lucky to have this problem
I know an amazing Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch (previously Banc of America Investments). His name is Blake Welpton and he has an office at the Bank of America in Montclair and a second one in the Merrill Lynch Building in downtown Oakland. He has a fantastic understanding of the financial world and truly cares about his clients. His main interest is making your money grow. Give him a call and make an appointment. He'll be happy to sit down with you and give you advice. Blake Welpton Merrill Lynch 510-457-2030
Good Luck! Making my money grow
Congratulations. I really suggest that you plan for the future. A lot of people run though money having fun and then it's gone and they wonder what they spent it on. dck
I also would never want to be in a position where I'm counting on an inheritance to feel secure for my own retirement. People live a long time, and I just would rather keep my financial security under my own control. That's why I would use this windfall to jump-start your retirement savings. You could start a Roth IRA and -- if you have it at work -- start contributing to your 401K. You can also find some low-cost index mutual funds to invest some money.
If you want to read up further, I would read the book Making the Most of Your Money by Jane Bryant Quinn. She has updated it lately, but I read it 10 years ago as a newlywed and it helped my husband and I become comfortable about taking charge of our money. You should definitely do something to treat yourselves, whether it is a vacation or improvements to the house, but I would use the majority of it (say 90%) to think about protecting your family and yourself in the future. You'll sleep better at night. Kelly
To that, I'd like to add another word of advice. Keep in mind that there is a difference between people who offer financial advice on a fee-for-service basis and those who recommend specific investment vehicles that pay them a commission. I'd strongly urge paying for financial planning advice on an hourly basis as there is an inherent conflict of interest in placing money in investments that reward the seller with a commission.
I would also strongly advise against investing in anything you don't understand. A few years back my husband was going to invest $30,000 with Merrill Lynch. We both had a couple of sessions with them and at the end still couldn't get them to explain their funds, the A shares, the B shares, etc. in a way we could understand. In the end we left feeling like they were trying to take adavantage of our lack of understanding so we opted to invest on our own instead.
If you choose to put money in a mutual fund, you can do that yourself without having to pay a broker. You might also consider investing in no-load (i.e., no cost) index funds with Vanguard--they have some of the lowest operating costs available. Many mutual funds have a load of 1 or 2% either when the money goes in or when the money goes out. You can certainly find no-load funds that earn the same yield without the extra cost. One or two percent may not sound like much but over time the difference can be huge.
You can also follow the advice about setting aside money for an emergency, paying off debt, etc., and then park the rest in a money market and take some time to do some research on your own. You don't have to invest all of it at one time.
Good luck. What a great ''problem'' to have. anonymous
The one concern about an investment adviser, is that you have to remember that they will promote their own interests (i.e., making money off of you). Now, if you make more money, they also make more money, so that is good, but you will never catch them telling you to put some (or all) towards your mortgage or your children's education.
Most advisors charge a % on your portfolio. they will put your money and other accts into investments that supposedly only they have access to, but charge hefty fees on the front, and back end.
I had retained advisors for years and the one thing they were all good at was making me feel great about my choice. I was on a ''high'' for several years and wanted everyone around me to get an advisor. At some point I got curious about what seemed like a guaranteed income stream for my advisor via that pesky monthly WRAP fee on my statements, and a few spreadsheets later I discovered that my return was anywhere between -5% to +3% per year, but regardless of that, the advisor was making a nice sum of money. I also found that the investments they had supposedly told me where prime money market accounts, but were well below every other bank and brokerage, the funds they put me in had far higher maintenance and redemption fees, etc. I moved my money out and had to endure that whole drama of ''how could you leave this long relationship we've established'' and all that (seriously!) and was able to have better liquidity, higher yields, fewer fees, less complexity, and far better control of my money.
100K is not all that much money to manage yourself. If you think it is too complicated, it will be even more complicated to figure out how much money your fin advisor and your funds are making in fees.
It may sound scary to think that you can manage 100K, but it really is not all that much or overly complicated, or time consuming. There are basic principles on how to get started and a good book, or some blogs will tell you how to get started. I you want to compare rates, etc, bankrate.com is a great website. Vanguard has a website where people who manage money on their own exchange hints and info.
After I started managing my money on my own, I put it all into local and smaller institutions, and I gave it three years. At the end of that I calculated how much my fin advisor would have made from me, and gave it to a charity. (By then I began getting checks from my former advisor's firm due to some class action settlement which dictated that they compensate their clients for excessive fees and other such ''events''). I learned a lot about how deregulated the whole industry is.
You can do it! nick
You'll be surprised but while it sounds like a lot, it won't change your lives! Last thing - don't live as though you're counting on that next inheritance - you never know, as those who invested with Bernie Madoff will tell you:) All for smart spending
Matriarch pig lives in a filthy hole. Never spends a penny. Is frugal beyond reason. While alive she denies herself all comforts and then dies leaving each of the three little pigs with $500k each.
Little pig number one is the youngest and spends the funds on two cars, one motorcycle, more than one racing bike, travel, an education at $40k per year institution, but doesn't finish. Much irresponsibility later this little pig goes on to a terrific job, family with 2.5 pigs, an advanced degree completed later. Now: happy and doing well.
Little ''middle'' pig spends it on therapy, travel, and finishing an undergraduate degree at less expensive institution. This pig diversified, used advisors paid on commission, advisors paid by flat fee, and did self piggy research. Two great big investment windfalls and three huge losses later (.com + real estate bust) the only thing this pig has to show for $:are lessons of therapy, foreign language skill, therapist's house remodel completed due to piggy patronage. Now: in career transition, divorced, single parent. Still - Happy and doing well.
Little pig number three is the eldest: therapy, an advanced degree (finished BA yrs before). Traveled somewhat, but mostly used the funds a little here, a little there, to supplement this years self employment income, that car repair, fund this great cause and those dinners out, weekends away, the training here and there; as income while attending school full time and unpaid internships in new field once advanced study was finished. Now: Single, great job, happy and doing well.
The moral of this story is that there is no right or wrong thing to do. We used the money based on our values, to the best of our ability. No matter which advice you follow-your own, or someone else's- you'll only be as happy as you ever were before the windfall- even if nothing works out the way you thought it should. Piggy
My husband's parents are both deceased and his mom passed away recently-- about 8 months ago. He does not seem interested in claiming his inheritance. He claims to know what it is (a home in the bay area, perhaps some small investments) but he hasn't seen the Trust and is only relying on his siblings account of things. He has two older siblings who took charge of caring for their mom as her health declined over the past 5 years. He feels immense guilt at not having done more for her, but there are many factors that contributed to this (we live farther away, have small children, his siblings took charge of things without consulting him ....). I think the guilt is preventing him from pursuing his inheritance. I'm unfamiliar with how things work with in this kind of situation. Is 8 months a realistic amount of time to wait to see the trust? I'm not sure that I trust his siblings--they are renting the family home out and I don't know where that income is going to. They said the lawyer is putting the property in their names, but would it take this long? Obviously this is a very sensitive subject for my husband. When I bring it up he gets stressed. I know its the guilt. He told me he doesn't think he deserves as much of the inheritance because he didn't help out as much when his mom was sick, even though he's been there at other times for her. Maybe it's none of my business--is it? We could really use the extra money, but he seems in no hurry to figure it all out. Am I overstepping my boundries? Do I sound insensitive? Should I stop bringing it up? Anon
What do you think would work for you in terms of solving this problem for yourself?
If I were in your shoes I would request permission to contact the lawyer involved in the estate myself (if husband cannot/will not do so) to simply get the facts.
The lawyer should be automatically keeping all siblings informed of the progress on settling the estate in writing. If the lawyer does not have contact information for your husband, it could be the reason s(he) is not doing so.
I invite you to take action on behalf of your family, especially in the information gathering stage. Sandy
I am not a lawyer, but I can imagine a case where after a period of time the sibling that does not come forward could forfeit their share. Get legal advice on this -- there may be statutes of limitation, etc, and the lawyer may just be waiting for them to expire so that he can put the house in their name. That's one reason it could take this long.
Be sensitive about your involvement in this. I don't think it is appropriate to express sentiments about his siblings, i.e. that YOU don't trust them. It might be more constructive to talk to him in a way that relieves his guilt a little more. He doesn't need to be so hard on himself. You have a great husband. Don't be hard on him for not pursuing this as a way to relieve your financial difficulties. Instead steer him more towards the idea that he needs to figure out and accept the trust as a way of honoring what his late mother really wanted.
By the end of June I will receive a small inheritance, somewhere between $5,000 and $9,000 US. I've never had this much money in one lump sum before, ( I am middle-aged and living hand to mouth), and need honest, professional advice on how to invest and grow it into enough to live on and support my small business. I am not looking to live extravagantly, but rather to cover monthly expenses, help with daycare and clothing expenses for my grandchildren, and donate to my pet causes. Any useful information or references will be greatly appreciated. Invisible woman
Hello, My best friend, my grandmother, just died. Over the last three years of her life her drug addicted 65 year old son had moved back into the house with her. It turns out that over that period before she died he had everything signed over to his name. The estate of my grandmother is really not a lot of money, but I and my mother (her daughter) are trying to decide if it is worth fighting for. The issue is not so much the money, there was about 5 thousand in the bank which he has already taken out and spent, and a car, which he has already given to his daughter who is a meth addictb&. So all that is left is the house really. And the thing is, as it is going to him or his daughter (who he found out about only after she was about 11 years old) will spend it on drugs. I feel it is such an insult to my grandmother that all she and my grandfather worked for is going to be spent by these two drug addicts, on , no doubt, drugs. My grandmother had three children and seven grandchildren; the one girl who stands to inherit everything was never anything but nasty to my grandmother. She has been in and out of jail. My uncle who got everything signed over to him is a perverted, abusive, drug addict. I think my grandmothers thinking was that my uncle would have no way to take care of himself and that her other two children, my mother and another uncle, are competent enough to do so. However, it is clear my uncle who signed the whole estate to himself is going to spend it fast, and probably on drugs. I think I should try and be zen, let it go, know my relationship with my grandmother is what counts, and the other part of me thinks we should fight him for it. My mother is asking my advice about what to do, and I am too emotional about the whole thing to give her good advice. need advice
I would be devastated if my hard work and investments never made it into my childrens, and grandchildrens hands because of underhanded methods. You need to do it for your grandmother as well your mother and yourself. It's not just about the money but money is important too.
Don't allow your uncle's and cousin's behavior ruin your memories of your grandmother. It's only her stuff. Try to put this behind you and focus on the ways that you want to remember her. Anon
It's really hard to deal with something like this, when you can't talk to your grandmother about why this was done. It took me a good 4 years to reconcile myself to her WILL and my uncle committed suicide a year later. So, she was damned if she did and damned if she didn't - leave her estate equally.
Now you're in the situation where someone who doesn't ''deserve'' it, got everything. Unless your grandmother was mentally incompetent, she may have had her reasons. Unlike my grandmother, maybe she wanted to help the weaker son. Maybe it was worth it to her to have your uncle around? Would your mother feel better if he were cut out entirely? Is there any way she can talk to him? I would see if the estate will be probated. Sorry this isn't too helpful, I just know that based on my own prior experience, I decided to have my will clearly outline my wishes and I talk to my kids about it a lot so that there won't be any hurt feelings. anon
My mom died more than two years ago. My sister was named executor of her estate. She and her husband had been living with mom, taking care of her for four years before her death. During that time they lived completely off her meager retirement income. They paid no rent, uitlities, or other living expenses like food, personal supplies, even gas for their cars. Nada.
After her death they continued to live in the house. It is unclear to myself and my four other sibs that they did not continue to pay their own bills with mom's money. Finally, after much foot dragging, excuses, missed deadlines, mishandling of the sale of the house, etc., they are out.
But, the money situation does not add up. Mom died with about $100,000.00 dollars in her savings account. Sister doled out $10,000.00 to each sibling, for a total of $60,000.00. Leaving $40,000.00. Mom also had just under ''$2000.00 in her checking account.
The house was sold for $501,000.00, as is, with a 6% sales commission. She gave each of us $77,000.00 as our share. But when you subtract 6% from $501,000.00 and divide by 6, you get $78,490.00. Each of us five sibs were shorted $1,490.00 on this. Sister now claims that their is only about $10,000.00 left to be split.
I know there must be some legitimate expenses, like funeral fees, headstone, laywer and accountant fees. Probate cost a little over ''$1,000.00. But from my thinking, I see $42,000.00 from cash and another $7,450.00 from the house for a total of ''$49,450.00. I just don't see how my sister could have legitimately spent almost $40,000.00 to close my mom's estate.
None of the items in the house were sold. A few special things were given to individuals, but the rest she took. What she didn't want, she gave away.
Every time any one of us have even started to approach the subject of the estate in the last two years, my sister has gone berserk with anger, and I mean that literally. She refuses to discuss anything calmy or rationally. She does not stay on topic. She goes off on things that happened to her in her childhood, the numerous wrongs she suffered, the totally thankless job she was left with, having to give up her life for four years for mom, the tremendous amount of work the estate is/was, her husband's health,(which is not good) and on and on.
At this point I only communicate with her via email. I and a few of my sibs have stated to her that we expect her to produce a basic accounting of mom's estate. A list of assets, and list of expenses. She has stated that she will get around to this, but then doesn't find the time. She and her husband are both retired.
Two questions. How can I get my sister to close the estate? I don't want to sue. And if she does provide an accounting, what should I do if the numbers she provides are incorrect? She does not know that I obtained a copy of the probate papers.
I'd like to find a happy ending here. One where mom's estate is divided equally, as according to her will, and where my sibling and I can have the best family relationship possible. anon
I have found that letting go of my mother's assets, whether they are things or money, is part of the process of letting go of her. I cannot separate my grief over her loss from the difficulty of letting go of her things. I can however acknowledge the process and look carefully at what is really most important to me. For example, I would never purchase a bumpy milk-glass butter dish. But it is the butter dish we used while I as growing up and it is on my counter right now. Every day I look at it and wonder what in the heck I have this thing for. Every day I remember using it as a child and finding it in Mom's house after she died, and I decide to keep it. Some day I will sell it at a garage sale, but not yet. I'm not ready to let it go yet. But someday I will.
We all have issues in our families and in the best of all worlds we hope that in times of great stress we can pull together and build stronger bonds. Based on your description of your situation, it seems clear that you need to be the one to take action to build stronger bonds. Your sister does not appear to be in any condition to do this. Ultimately, you need to decide if your relationship with your sister is more important than your one sixth share of $40,000.
I realize this is a lot of money. But how do you put a value on family? How do you put a value on the 4 years that your sister lived with and took care of your mother? How do you put a value on the work that your sister is doing to administer the estate? Was living expense free during those 4 years adequate compensation for her? What things might she have been doing with her life, if she weren?t living with or taking care of your mother? How would your life have changed if you had lived with and taken care of your mother during those 4 years?
As I see it, your sister has made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of your mother and ultimately you and your siblings. Separate from the issue of money, I would be deeply grateful to my sister for caring for my mother during the last 4 years of her life. I suspect and hope that your sister provided your mother with companionship, love, conversation, assistance with household chores, tracking of medical issues and appointments, and much more. What would you have paid to have someone other than your sister provide that service? Would room and board and maybe $10,000 a year seem fair? If so, then you are even. If not are you willing to sue her for the difference? Assuming you could even win a judgment, would winning a judgment in a law suit like this make you feel better? Would it be worth it? Assuming the money is already spent, which I?m sure it is, are you willing to attach her retirement income to pay back this debt? Would she have to go back to work to pay you back? Would that satisfy you?
Do I think you have the right to an accurate accounting of the estate expenses? Absolutely. Do I think you are going to get them? No. Is it worth pressing for it? Personally I don?t thing so.
I think it would be helpful for you and your sister to sit down and have a conversation about what the last 6 years have been like for both of you, but especially for her. I think your sister?s defenses will come down if she sees you understand her position. I think it would be helpful for you to identify what things you are grateful to her for and express that to her.
Finally and very practically... Would you pay $6,700 (1/6 of $40,000) to have this resolved completely and peacefully right now? If your answer is yes, then forget it. Forgive her. Be grateful that your mother was not alone during the last years of her life. Get on with your life.
Warmest wishes, Karen
Believe me, your sister's life was on hold for an excruciatingly long, painful time. You're very lucky to have had someone to deal with this instead of yourself. The numbers you mentioned make perfect sense to me. There are such an overwhelming number of fees and expenses that I'm still unable to completely close the estate after two years - the unexpected bills keep rolling in.
Even if your sister is retired, seeing your mother through her end of life and then dealing with the estate was probably a full- time job for a while. It probably took a heavy toll on her and her husband's life. And it was unpaid and obviously not fully appreciated. It sounds to me like your sister has been more than fair. Even if she had taken the $40,000 for herself, that would come to only $10,000 a year, far less than the cost of a nursing home and far less than she deserved. If there was a funeral, a headstone, an attorney, and an accountant, then it could EASILY have totalled $40,000. If it only cost $20,000, are you worried that she scammed $5,000 for each of the years she carried that burden?
I think that you should be thanking God that someone took care of all of that labor and then handed you a big fat check for doing nothing. My father's estate was also split equally, with me doing all of the work and my greedy, thankless siblings constantly worrying that I would take one dime more than my share. Like you, they can't figure out why they didn't get more money and wring their hands about whether I've taken more than my equal share. If they had participated more they would realize that dying is an expensive business.
My advice is that you take a good long look at how much someone else has done for you and be thankful for what you've been given for nothing. Then tell her that you need to see an accounting of the entire estate for your taxes. That's really all you have a right to ask for. anon
If the information you stated is correct, I think you seriously need to do a reality check!
First off you make it sound like your mom is living a ''meager'' existence, yet she maintained a healthy savings & checking account, and obviously owned a home with good value.
Your sister and brother-in-law took care of your mother for 4 years. Do you have any idea the amount of work and patience it takes to care for an elderly loved one for that length of time. Your sister could have place your mother in a home, in which case (depending upon the state) all of her assets would have been used to pay for her care. You and your other siblings would have received nothing at the passing of your mother.
The monies unaccounted for is small change compared to the 4 years your sister dedicated to your mother. Your sister has every right to become angry when approached by your demands for an accurate accounting. If I was your sister, I'd give you an accurate accounting and then I'd charge you and your sibs for the 4 years I spent taking care of mom.
We have an elderly parent (85)living alone in Michigan, she doesn't want to leave her home and in someways is still very capable. It costs us over $2,000 a month to have someone come in and provide her with simple assistance on a daily basis. I'd be only too thrilled if my sister-in-law gave up her life for 4 years to go take care of mom!
You really need to examine the way in which you are viewing your sister, you should be thanking her instead of asking her to be accountable! Kate
In addition, I know it does cost a lot to close an estate. Don't forget about taxes that must be paid, the costs of burial, etc. And it is a lot of work. My brother-in-law worked for one year to tie up all the loose ends, and I think legally they are allowed compensation for dealing with the details.
I just wonder if it's worth it to lose a sister over this. It's just money. And not even that much money. I guess since they have 8 kids total in the family they figured they could afford to lose one sister. But I think it is horribly sad, and I actually miss my sister-in-law who is my daughter's godmother. anon
You may feel your sister lived at her mothers house for four years ''rent free''. Consider that your sister basically gave up 4 years of her life to provide care for your mom. That care allowed your Mom to live in her home with family, instead of paid caregivers.
Your sisters sacrifice saved your mother a great deal of money, allowed another 4 years appreciation on her home, and probably gave her great comfort. These things benefitted you, by giving you piece of mind knowing your mom was safe and loved, and freed you up to live your life.
It also benefitted you, as home prices increased a great deal over the last 6 years. Many seniors sell their home when their health declines, then use the cash to pay for assisted living with paid caregivers. This can easily run thousands per month over the course of 4 years, her assets would be sustantially less than they were when she died, particularly if she had sold her home prior to prices rising as they have and used the cash to pay for senior care.
The way your mother and sister handled it was a win-win, her assets (home and savings) were protected and she was in the care of people who loved her.
Unless your sister has a pattern of freeloading, malicious behavior, or if you have proof she squandered away your moms money, I would extend gratitude, not suspiscon and give her the benefit of the doubt. Whether or not you realize it, she made a huge sacrifice to help the family, and deserves your respect. Trying to see both sides
I also have another reaction which you may not want to hear. Why not let it go? It looks like you all got a lot of money, and without needing to help at all. How much is enough? And if you do get more, how about sending it to help the tsunami victims? Better yet, since all of you are getting quite a chunk of change, maybe you can reduce your anger and feel good by collectively sending a significant gift to Asia - people who are suffering. After all, your affluence and their poverty is merely an accident of birth. I'm quite serious; it could be a beautiful healing act for your family, and you did say that you also value good family relationships. They are indeed worth more than gold. (including our human family :-) For information and ways to make donations, go to: http://www.google.com/tsunami_relief.html Wishing you well
I am one of four siblings and my mother has one sister. My 101 year old grandmother is going to die soon and her house is full of many valuable antiques, large and small. My aunt who is childless, is getting half of the house's contents and the rest will be divided among the four adult children (myself included). My aunt is the executor of the estate and has asked us to turn in a list of what we want from the house with the understanding that our request of the possessions in the house should not exceed one eighth of the total. She is a curmudgeon (very interested in controlling things), but ethical and is worried she will get enough out of the estate to retire on. There is an old appraisal of the assets of the estate, but she does not want us to see it as she wants us to decide based on what we can use and like, not on the financial value. She is determined, we take things for our own use, not for resale. She has spent the last 20 years looking after our grandmother while working full time. The estate is the house (easy to divide the proceeds) and the house's contents. One of the problems is that one child wants things that far exceed one eighth, one wants small very valuable things only and two children want furniture. There are also many things of interest in the house that are not valuable. I have suggested that we take turns, my aunt picks something then one of the grandchildren choose. The grandchildren decide their order by drawing straws. I also suggested we make an A list of extremely valuable things and a B list and choose from these lists according to our portion of the estate and the four of us negotiate among ourselves what we wanted. Both of these ideas were rejected, any suggestions on how to divide this estate in way that we all end up still speaking to each other when it is over and we have a reasonably fair distribution of the assets? Anonymous
It was not easy, because you are dividing up things that bring back memories as well as things that have value. Also, since there were unequal numbers of grandkids in the two families, some of my siblings complained that my aunt got ''more'' than my dad. Nevertheless, we managed to get through it, and here are some things that helped.
My aunt did do an appraisal--it's a must for taxes, and it took some of the emotion OUT of the divide. My aunt and my father then split the things as close to 50/50 as possible. If any of the grandkids had come in with requests (there was a painting I used to dream about and wanted very much), that was taken into account. After the estate was divided thus, my siblings and I gathered at our parents house, and drew straws as to picking order. Then we spent a very surreal day splitting the stuff up. In many ways, we chose where we were in our lives; i had just bought a house, so I needed furnature. My brother had just gotten married, and his new wife chose lots of silver table-top stuff. My sister was an artist, so got lots of the good art.
In your case, I'd suggest that your aunt and your mother do the first round picks, with your special requests in mind, but mostly on their own according to value. Then you and your siblings will have a chance. In any case, perhaps you could put all of it aside for a little while until your grandmother has passed and then for a little while longer until you have a chance to grieve a little. Carolyn
My mother who has been generous enough to give each of her grand children $5000/year has decided to stop this practice this year. Being the youngest of four and having children late in life, this has left me at an unfair disadvantage. One sister's kids are well into their 20's ; and my mother has decided to continuing paying for my other nephews private schooling. ( It would not create undue hardship for her to give my daughter what the other grandchildren have/are getting. )
I've been trying to grin and bare or detach from this situation with my mother with little success. She refuses to discuss her decision with me, getting ugly and hanging up the phone on me if I bring it up. To me, it is not just the money (which would be much appreciated), but the fact that she doesn't realize how unjust her decision is and doesn't care about how it makes me feel.
I have continued visiting her with my daughter, but I feel like I am being put in a horrible position. I can either divorce myself from her, which I feel would be harmful to me as well as my daughter. Or I can continue seeing her which always brings up hurt/angry/confused feelings in me. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Did you find anything that worked? anon
My children will not know my mother (because she died several years ago), and I would love to be able to have them see her. I would not let any sibling rivalry or problems that I had with her come between her and her grandkids. How would you feel if your mom died suddenly -- would you wish you'd spent more time with her, or would you still just resent her unfair decision? Just my 2 cents' worth. anon
Was there a situation in which you were insensitive, or maybe didn't express thankfullness? Maybe there was something that happened to trigger the ceasing of gifts.
Family love is unconditional...and believe me that can be really challenging! Emotionally divorcing your mom because she isn't giving your children money gifts doesn't seem the the best approach. My mom and I have had our hard times, and she has had some giving issues too -- she will overextend herself in a generous way (usually time or occasional big presents), and when she doesn't feel appreciated *in the way that makes her feel appreciated* she will sometimes get resentful and will bring it up in a tearful way. Maybe you can find out from your other siblings what they have done to show appreciation and thankfullness for the gifts, and that might help? Or you could ask them if the gifts ever stopped with them and if so, why. anon
You need to get the help you need to accept your mother's actions, whatever form that help takes for you. No matter how unfair, it is her money and her decision. In all probability, she secretly agrees that she has acted without perfect even-handedness; her unwillingness to discuss the subject could well be because she feels bad about it. (Hey, I know the guiltier I feel, the more snappish I am!) But I am sure she is also hoping you value her for more than her money.
So please, don't pull back from your Mom because of a money issue. You, your daughter, and your mother could have forever to regret it. Sympathetic, but been there
I would address the feelings you and your mother have, but I would refrain from arguing about things like ''fairness.'' best of luck. anon
P.S. I don't have your original post up right now, but have you mentioned this to your siblings? Maybe one of them will have some words of wisdom--either for you OR your mother! Nancy
I have yet to see the person who is toxic about money to be healthy about other areas of his/her life. I speak from experience since not only do I have a wealthy mother who is completely inconsistent and inequitable about giving out money (she has given scant amounts to me, more (but not a lot) to my sister, and nothing to my brother--all of us have children, by the way), but also my mother is stingy with her affection, the truth, compassion, etc. Having done my ''work'' about my mother's lack of equanimity and accessibility, I am not angry at her, merely indifferent and pitying toward her. She is not in good shape, and we all suspect some elements of bi-polarism in her.
As I said before, a lot of my mother's pathology comes out around money, but I feel that the behavior is a symptom not the problem. To that end, we have nothing, really, to do with my mother, having realized that she isn't forthcoming in other areas of human relationship. She is depressed, interrupts, lies, and possesses a host of other behaviors that made it not only difficult but also destructive for us to interact with her. You may be lucky in that however erring and unfair your mother is about money, she is still able to be an affable companion to you and a doting grandmother. My mother is not particularly interested in my children and her idea of a relationship with me is to call when she needs something. I told my daughter (my son is too young for this choice) that she is more-than-welcome to have a relationship with my mother to which she replied, ''Why would I want to; all she does is clean the house and interrupt me when she comes.'' If people respond to you by saying that she is your mother, deserving of respect, that they would give anything to have their mother alive and available etc., I would suggest that you take inventory and ask yourself if your mother has other redeeming qualities that you can access and enjoy. If not, you are totally entitled to protect yourself--you certainly wouldn't keep a destructive friend in your repertoire of friends, would you? If you decide that your mother does have nice qualities in addition to whatever ugly ones she has, then you are luckier than I and might want to consider a ''limited friendship'' with her.
And, no, your mother isn't obligated to help you out financially, etc., but I do think that she's morally obligated to be equitable, and you certainly have a right to your feelings, about such the lack of equitablity, be they outrage or acceptance.
Finally, have you considered writing a letter to her in which you voice your unhappiness with her behavior around money and still communicate that which you know to be nice about her? Even if such a letter doesn't transform her or get her agreement, you may feel some measure of catharsis.
I wish you luck. Mothers can be liabilities.
Born a wealthy orphan, next life
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