Ermahgerd... I long expected the total depletion of assets on my mom's side of the family to insulate me from this kind of drama. Sadly, life found a way to surprise me.
Parents got divorced back in 1992, and it was really ugly. Dad went to prison briefly, and his parents really spooked us by trying to get formal visitation rights, which we all thought was just a backdoor to keeping him in our lives regardless of other legal agreements and our mother's wishes. It failed, and after we moved far away, most of the connections between my parents' families died permanently. But the youngest of my siblings established regular contact over time, and I eventually re-established contact with my dad's parents and a couple of his siblings. I didn't see Dad again until my favorite uncle got married in mid-2014, and we've only had a couple of emails since then; he has 3 stepchildren and 3 more sons by his new wife so I figure he's busy and so am I. Pretty much everything I hear about him is secondhand.
My uncle is the youngest, only 10 years older than I, and 20 years younger than my dad, but has had major health issues and a disability that limits his earning. He and his new wife moved into my grandparents' house with the express intent (and consent of all) to care for the parents until their death and keep the house. Things went fine for a couple of years.
Then I heard that my dad's mother was in decline, probably not going to last the year. Along with my sisters, who hadn't met her since the divorce, I booked a November trip to see her one last time. Unfortunately, following one last sojourn to say goodbye to the other side of the family, she spiraled down pretty fast, and I had to settle for a phone call last week, just before she passed. Two of us rebooked our tickets and converged over the weekend for the service, with my still-living grandpa at home, his two (local) sons in attendance, and the two daughters flying in.
Due to my uncle's current issues and all the memories in the house, my grandpa is now moving to live with his daughter (the aunt I know best), probably for the rest of his life.
Said uncle and aunt came to pick me up, she jumped out to come hug me, and her first words were about my dad.
Me: How are you doing?
Her: Really not well! Zephdad's being a jerk!
It turns out my dad has been exhausting all ends to get his share of the assets immediately, even with his dad alive and his mother barely dead. I have no idea of his financials - I know he had massive legal bills into his 40s and his train of kids isn't cheap, but I'd have thought he'd at least be okay after ~30yrs at one highly technical job and no extravagant habits. Still, it seems that at 67 with retirement plans in the works (and his youngest still only 12!), he really wants his piece. I didn't press for details, but they implied that each share of the trust is worth about as much as the house, so probably a couple hundred at least.
With grandpa moving, there was little reason to delay the home's title transfer, so that's proceeding now. However, the retirement accounts are a separate issue - grandpa is still alive, and could need the money for the move, medical bills, or any number of other possibilities. Regardless, my dad argued for an early division, until the point of hostility with all the other sibs. When countered with the obvious reply, that his father is still alive, with ongoing material needs, he said they could always send some back if they needed to.
Because no family has ever been torn apart by a handshake agreement like that....
At one point, I heard my uncle angrily saying to grandpa that "he tried to steal all your money!" When I said something about these situations bringing out the worst in people, he said "This is just how he is all the time. He's never done anything that wasn't completely self-serving."
Anyway, the consensus went against division, whereafter he apparently resorted to sneaking into the house to go through documents and computer accounts.
Then they changed the locks, and found evidence that he'd tried again when he knew they were gone. They held a meeting with the trust manager to add more safety measures against any transfer or disposal, apparently fearing he'd wait till the crowd is gone and coerce his dad into something.
At this point, it's a stalemate, and with another sibling now required to sign for any changes, the funds will probably sit until grandpa passes.
Based on what I've heard this week, I'd be surprised if my dad leaves much of an estate, nor do I really care. I've never been so glad to finally have my shit together... I know I will never want more money (in any amount) badly enough to instigate this kind of drama, least of all against my own family while they're grieving. I honestly wish they hadn't even told me... I can't do anything about it, and it's not my place to even say anything. It's just fucking sad.