Author Topic: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?  (Read 20284 times)

Goldielocks

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3560
  • Location: BC
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #100 on: January 28, 2017, 12:41:50 PM »
Joon --  in terms of emotions,  for us, it is the fact that if not for parents, sis would be asking us for support and it would be very hard to refuse.  The relief it brings knowing we are not "on the hook" emotionally or financially surpasses any passing discomfort about unequal gifting.

They say that having gratitude in life for what you have is the secret to happiness, and it is very effective in this case.

gerardc

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Age: 33
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #101 on: January 28, 2017, 03:41:20 PM »
Here's a different and positive story.

The only daughter took wonderful care of her parents as she stayed nearby. The brothers lived much further away and did not even put in 1% of the effort. The daughter rightfully deserved to inherit a larger fraction or perhaps the entire amount. However, she was aware that if this were to pass, it could create friction especially among her sisters-in-law. She and her husband ensured that the inheritance was equally divided among all siblings.   

Wait, is inheritance a repayment on the efforts to care for your parents, now? I never viewed it like that. More like a blood-to-blood wealth transfer, regardless of the individual circumstances of either party (i.e. equal).

Poundwise

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 627
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #102 on: January 28, 2017, 04:03:37 PM »
This discussion is very interesting to me in my role as parent.  Common parenting advice is to give each kid what she/he needs, and not knock yourself out trying to give equally. Of course, some children always need more than others.

Another thing to consider is parents' situation according to birth order.  For instance, my oldest child had a more difficult, insecure childhood than his younger sibs because we moved around every two years when he was little, so he would make friends and then lose them at our next move.  We were also poorer and more stressed.  So I would be inclined to giving him a little more for that reason. On the other hand, though my youngest child will enjoy living in a well-off household, she will have fewer years of healthy, helpful parents and more years of old, sick parents than my oldest. So maybe we should give her more.  And of course, my middle child will also have had less individual attention because he is the middle. So we should give him more. :P

So you don't know what kind of complicated equation of guilt and past history may have gone into calculating what child needs what. I guess it is all too easy to get it wrong! I guess the things that create the most hurt is when unequal proportion in a will actually have some relationship with unequal love; or when a parent mistakes child wants for child needs (i.e. "economic outpatient care" per Millionaire Next Door.)



 




SmartyCat

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #103 on: January 28, 2017, 04:45:03 PM »
Pretend there is no inheritance, act according to the value of the personal relationship alone.

I keep coming back to this. How money is treated is often the way other aspects of the relationship are treated, and the sting of an unequal distribution may be that subtle favoritism that could be otherwise explained away or overlooked has just been made concrete and obvious.

In my family, the $ will be evenly split among the siblings; but Mom makes frequent comments hoping two of us will "look out for" the third (Translation: if he runs through his money, make sure someone takes care of him). Said sibling is 70 years old, a well-educated business owner, and we suspect he's waiting on an inheritance to retire. He could get an Oscar for his performance as the gently-confused-victim of circumstance, and it's gotten him all kinds of emotional outpatient support from Mom.

Several comments speculate on whether the OP visits home enough or with the right attitude. I'm wondering how often the parents and siblings come and visit the OP, or if it's just assumed that the OP will do all the traveling "home". A one-way street gets old fast.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #104 on: January 28, 2017, 05:18:25 PM »
Joon --  in terms of emotions,  for us, it is the fact that if not for parents, sis would be asking us for support and it would be very hard to refuse.  The relief it brings knowing we are not "on the hook" emotionally or financially surpasses any passing discomfort about unequal gifting.

This was one of the shifts that happened in my sibling group, too. When the situation became clear, some of us felt able to release an impulse to provide financial support to the one receiving. (I still provide some legal support for this sibling, but no more driving, cash, enabling, support for fantasy, etc.)

I think some of us (my sibling group) were approaching our family of origin in a very tribal way. Most of us have been ready to help each other (parents, siblings) as needed, and have done so. We have been watchful for need and jumped in where we saw it. My parents' decision naturally caused a readjustment in that. i.e., When this sibling is being massively financially gifted, I felt able to release him from my own planning, and reorganized my psyche and my planning to "rebalance" in light of it. That has felt like a very positive aligning with reality.

SeaEhm

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 370
  • The Guilt is Real
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #105 on: January 28, 2017, 05:28:09 PM »
If the sole purpose of my relationship with my parents or grandparents was to gain a vested interest in their money, then I would cut them as soon as I found out I am not getting a "good deal"

However, my relationship with family has nothing to do with their money.  If they give me $10, good.  If they give me a million, great.  If they give me nothing, I am okay with that.  If my sibling got a million and I got nothing?  Good for my sibling.

I am pretty content with my life as it is.  If I wasn't I would work harder/smarter to become more content.
Just here to feel guilty about my purchases which are often irrational, wants, and in an atypical budget.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #106 on: January 28, 2017, 05:28:41 PM »
So you don't know what kind of complicated equation of guilt and past history may have gone into calculating what child needs what.

+1.

How money is treated is often the way other aspects of the relationship are treated, and the sting of an unequal distribution may be that subtle favoritism that could be otherwise explained away or overlooked has just been made concrete and obvious.

+1.

This morning I happened to be telling my kid the story of how "fragile" the [receiving] sibling seemed from quite young, while in the rest of us the serious cracks took longer to show. So, it is entirely possible that my parents' emotional concepts were set in stone while we all happened to be between the ages of 0-10. They may have seen so many "healthy, robust" children and one "fragile" one, and the worry and fear over him may have set like jello for all time. Regardless of what actually transpired after that time, my parents' take was set. And, in the sibling's tricky development, he may have learned to whine, manipulate, malinger, etc, to get the care he needed to feel safe. 40 years later, they maintained an emotional sense of one being fragile and he maintained these manipulate approaches to secure care. By this point, when people said, "Hey, wait a second here..." the parents were too tired to unravel 40+ years of concepts. Fair enough.

So, kinda not anyone's "fault"! Just, variables that resulted in a weird, non-logical scenario.

bortman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
  • Location: Wisconsin
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #107 on: January 28, 2017, 07:46:43 PM »
I'm not counting on receiving an inheritance from my family, but I don't feel like I need it since I've learned the ways of the moustache. Howerver ...

Quote
I'm wondering how often the parents and siblings come and visit the OP, or if it's just assumed that the OP will do all the traveling "home". A one-way street gets old fast.

What SmartyCat said really struck a chord. After I finished college my career took me lots of places that were far -- but still driving distance -- from my hometown. Early on I made it a priority to get back home 6-8 times a year. I also made a point of keeping up with family birthdays, calling my parents every week, sending gifts if I couldn't be there at Xmas. I've been in the US for 20 years -- still within driving distance -- and family members have visited me twice in that time.

After about 15 years of this I started ratcheting back my visits and communications. Only recently, in my now-infrequent phone calls with my mother, she's started to ask why I'm not in touch as often.

There's a lot more to this, but the words "one-way street" really encapsulate my experience.



Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5313
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #108 on: January 28, 2017, 08:03:05 PM »
I'm not counting on receiving an inheritance from my family, but I don't feel like I need it since I've learned the ways of the moustache. Howerver ...

Quote
I'm wondering how often the parents and siblings come and visit the OP, or if it's just assumed that the OP will do all the traveling "home". A one-way street gets old fast.

What SmartyCat said really struck a chord. After I finished college my career took me lots of places that were far -- but still driving distance -- from my hometown. Early on I made it a priority to get back home 6-8 times a year. I also made a point of keeping up with family birthdays, calling my parents every week, sending gifts if I couldn't be there at Xmas. I've been in the US for 20 years -- still within driving distance -- and family members have visited me twice in that time.

After about 15 years of this I started ratcheting back my visits and communications. Only recently, in my now-infrequent phone calls with my mother, she's started to ask why I'm not in touch as often.

There's a lot more to this, but the words "one-way street" really encapsulate my experience.
I understand the feeling. I've always found that I like 'going home' enough to justify more trips. And I get to see several pockets of extended family with one trip, making it much more efficient than if 16 people made trips to see me.
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #109 on: January 28, 2017, 10:28:27 PM »
ha, yeah...  Aside from a sibling living near my mum (and who I think is one "deserving" the awesome end of unequal gifting), I've been the one doing most visits. Did a double-take when I learned my mum was paying for the others' (visiting far less frequently) trips. D'oh!

She knew I would visit anyway, because it feels important to me to stay connected and my kid LOVES being with her, so she knew she didn't need to bribe me, heh heh. The others—ranging from better off to waaaaaaaay better off—stated cost as an issue, so she covered it. After I laughed aloud about this bizarre discrepancy a few times over the years, she offered to cover mine too. I accepted, because I like that present :)

PizzaSteve

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 397
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #110 on: January 29, 2017, 09:45:35 AM »
At work an older lady told me her heartbreaking inheritance story, which offers an interesting perspective.

In a nut shell, wealthy parents with many properties set up family trust so children could all enjoy assets.  One single sibling with lots of time on his hands, and apparently an agenda, went sort of crazy with lawsuits that challenged the trust, distributions, etc.  It took years, and the arguements and legal battles eventually forced the sale of everything, including the family home and parents possessions.  Seems much of the assets went to liquidators and to the lawyers.

She says it took years to get any emotional peace and still has emotional moments about it.  She thinks her brother must have been on drugs.  She has not spoken to any of her sibling since the event, and the family home and all of her parents' possessions are long gone, sold for cash.  Doubly sad, as she says their trust held paid for properties at very desireable areas like Lake Tahoe, Berkeley and Oakland, locations that would each likely be worth millions now, with bay area housing prices.

Perhaps parents might give more to one person, anticipating they would break up the familiy fighting for more, if they didnt pacify them?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2017, 03:39:38 PM by PizzaSteve »
All posts are opinions of the author subject to independent verification by the reader.  No representations of fact are asserted regarding commercial products or services.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #111 on: January 29, 2017, 09:57:34 AM »
Perhaps parents might give more to one person, anticipating they would break up the familiy fighting for more, if they didnt pacify them?

What an interesting possibility! For sure that could be one of the many possible variables.

That was a very sad story indeed :(

firelight

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 790
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #112 on: January 29, 2017, 10:21:52 AM »
This is why I'm adding the statement that anyone (and their descendents) that challenges the will is automatically disinherited from it.

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5459
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #113 on: January 29, 2017, 10:35:04 AM »
I agree with much of the above "it's not yours anyway" comments.

But... I've actually been in this situation.... or sort of.  And one sibling thought there were no extenuating circumstances and that it was totally unfair.  She was mad and hurt and hateful. 

But there WERE extenuating circumstances.  Dad explained multiple lines of reasoning why.  They were good reasons.  But he never explained to her.  We STRONGLY asked him to explain to her.  He'd chuckle and say "that's your problem after I'm gone."

TL/DR: Talk to the other siblings.  Make sure there might not be reasons why this is the case that you don't see.  (Sorry.  I'm in a weird place.  The aforementioned sibling just suddenly passed away a couple of hours ago.)

So... here is my unequal distribution story... 

Three siblings: S1, S2 and S3.  (I'm S3, btw.)

S1 had a long, tortuous history.  She began substance abuse (mostly alcohol) at about 18 and continued for over 40 years.  With substance abuse came massive spending.  She always had a pretty good job.  She never had a dime, yet she always had a closet full of designer clothing, a nice car and always had professionally done hair and nails.  She was very persuasive and at one point convinced her dad to enter a "business deal" where he would buy a house for "investment purposes" in an expensive area of a big city.  She would live in it and pay rent, pay for maintenance and fix it up over time.  Well... she never paid rent.  She never paid maintenance.  She got a loan and added onto the house (convincing her dad to co-sign on the loan) and then stopped making payments.

The house was in a "tear down neighborhood."  In other words: the lot was worth more than the house.  When the house finally sold, it was bulldozed and a larger, fancier house was put in its place.

Either her drinking caused her emotional problems or her emotional problems caused her drinking.  She had 2 wonderful kids ... and became estranged from both of them due to her abusive nature. 

Probably 10 years or so ago, she saw some statements and discovered her dad's net worth.  Her assumption was "I'll get a third of that."  She continued her massive spending/drinking and never saved anything for retirement.  But that money was subject to RMDs.  Her dad spent that money putting her kids through college and running his business.  His business became very unprofitable.  He was an aging surgeon.  He stayed practicing because he liked it and felt like he was helping people.  He didn't care if he wasn't making money.  So: Much of that balance was disappearing over time.

And... Her dad changed the will.  He did the math and added up all of the money he had given her over her lifetime and compared it to how much he'd given S2 and S3.  He also saw S1's kids growing into young adults and knew if he gave an equal share to everyone... nothing would bubble down to her kids.  He decided that instead of an even split between S1, S2, S3 -- he would give 1/3 to S2 and S3 and 1/9 to S1, 1/9 to grandkid1 and 1/9 to grandkid2.  (There were other grandkids, but he assumed his money would eventually bubble down to them when S2 died.)

He discussed this change with S2/S3.  They understood his reasons.  But they thought it was a bad idea.  S1 is highly emotional.  She will NEVER understand.  They advised against it.  But it was his money and he did with it what he wanted.  S2/S3 advised him to at least explain it to her... at least leave her a letter...  He said his relationship with her was tenuous enough.  He was going to enjoy it as much as he could and not tell her.  "That's your problem".

Indeed: She was devastated.  No amount of explaining "giving to your kids was his way of giving to you and making sure it made it to them."  She was already estranged and difficult.  She was in early stages of alcohol related dementia.  This made things worse.  She would call or email awful things like "you know dad was awful and having an affair..." or any number of other things.  Whether true or false, it didn't matter.  She was attacking him in the grave.

And less than a year later, before all of the estate is fully distributed, she died.  It's unclear whether it was related to her alcoholism.  Her portion of the estate will likely remain with her husband.  He's not the father of her children.  They married after her children were adults.  No one could have foreseen this, but in a way, it seems like her dad's logic was sound.
Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Miss Piggy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #114 on: January 29, 2017, 11:53:09 AM »
Spork, what a sad story.  :(

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #115 on: January 29, 2017, 04:19:54 PM »
...it seems like her dad's logic was sound.

Agreed.

Spork, a very sad story indeed—in no small part because you had to grieve two people within one year, as well as deal with all those awful attacking words on dad in the months after his death :(

In terms of the money, I really like how thoughtful and (it seems to me) wise dad was. Those children, who had already lost so very much their whole lives long, were gifted with material support, which can really help a person (or two people in this case) to take time off to grieve, invest time and money in therapy if needed, build a life that they didn't get to build from the point of a nurturing parent.

I'm so glad dad considered the bigger picture, and ensured a good portion would go to the younger generation rather than to someone very likely to blow it all.

I know I can't bear to see any resource wasted anywhere—time, money, environment, energy. While I can't (of course) control others' decisions, this definitely informs how I live and how I plan my own estate.

StetsTerhune

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 376
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #116 on: January 29, 2017, 07:04:14 PM »
My parents give a huge amount of support to one of my siblings. I do not resent that at all, though I do wish my sibling was more independent for their sake.

While I don't care at all, I can tell it bothers my parents to help the one so much, the other also quite a bit and me not at all. My mother occasionally makes comments about it, and they clearly go out of their way to be generous to me whenever there is any small opportunity to. Ive eventually come to the conclusion that they're happier getting to show me 'generosity' as well and feeling like it's slightly more fair (the money is inconsequential to them), so I accept with a thank you. In conversation later I always try to say how happy I am that they can help out my sibling and that they don't need to feel obligated to me because of that.

rpr

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 455
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #117 on: January 29, 2017, 07:58:58 PM »
Here's a different and positive story.

The only daughter took wonderful care of her parents as she stayed nearby. The brothers lived much further away and did not even put in 1% of the effort. The daughter rightfully deserved to inherit a larger fraction or perhaps the entire amount. However, she was aware that if this were to pass, it could create friction especially among her sisters-in-law. She and her husband ensured that the inheritance was equally divided among all siblings.   

Wait, is inheritance a repayment on the efforts to care for your parents, now? I never viewed it like that. More like a blood-to-blood wealth transfer, regardless of the individual circumstances of either party (i.e. equal).
Who decrees that it has to be equal?


Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5313
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #118 on: January 29, 2017, 08:01:31 PM »
Who decrees that it has to be equal?
No one decrees it. But some people have a hard time understanding why parents would give less money to some children than others. It could appear that said parents don't care for their children equally.
Give me one fine day of plain sailing weather and I can mess up anything.

MustacheMathTM

Kiwi Fuzz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
  • Location: Massachusetts
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #119 on: January 30, 2017, 08:08:39 AM »
This is a really interesting topic. I've never given it any thought, personally, as I always assumed that my parents would leave behind debts rather than assets.

My mother actually said once that she didn't feel it was important to leave anything behind for her children (she birthed 6 of us) and that it wasn't worth denying herself during her life to provide an inheritance. She is very much a spendthrift and has consumer debt. Her current partner (3rd husband if they marry) was a banker for over 30 years so he's better with money than she is but they just built a fancy, award winning (no joke), house with a huge mortgage and he doesn't have a job. They were both recently injured and required surgery(ies). My mother's current partner also has 2 children. His severance from the bank went into a business that then failed. He started the business due to age discrimination making it hard to find another job. Now he's working for/with my dad who has a house painting business that hasn't really turned a meaningful profit in all the years he's run it (about 20 years or so).

My father lives in a house owned by his long-term partner who has 3 children. Despite never having much money my father has already been (I think overly) generous with helping out my 2 sisters (single parents) and myself. He paid off my student loan which was NZD $20K (USD $14.5K) and accruing 6% interest once I left NZ (0% while I lived there) with money he inherited from his mother when she passed away. I do intend to pay him back but it's a long term goal at this stage. I never expected him to do that and I am unspeakably grateful (and a bit guilty).

My 3 elder siblings, 2 have the same father as me, all have 1 child each and I have none. My 2 younger siblings won't get anything from their father, also a spendthrift among other issues, so anything my mother has will probably go to the grandchildren or her 2 youngest kids.

Maybe it's easier for me to let go of the idea of inheritance after seeing my Dad go to buy things and have his credit card declined when I was younger (trying the next card, and so on), seeing my elder sister buy my mother groceries when her 2nd husband wouldn't give her enough to feed her 2 youngest, and considering I am one of 14 potential inheritors (including the grandkids) I doubt there would be anything meaningful left behind. If there is anything left then I would be comfortable not receiving anything. I would probably be tempted to re-gift it to one of my siblings with children. I think my father said he wanted to give me his grandfather clock, a family heirloom, but it might be hard/expensive to ship across the pacific and over the width of the mainland USA. It would probably end up being held for me by my eldest sister, in all honesty, if it were left to me.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #120 on: January 30, 2017, 10:02:26 AM »
Maybe it's easier for me to let go of the idea of inheritance...

Though, that's another topic, yeah? i.e., A person might very easily let go of the idea of an inheritance (when there's nothing, when parents decide to spend everything, when parents decide to give it to charity, etc). In this thread, the only struggle some seem to be having is when a parent decides to give one of their children vastly more than they give other (good, loving, present, active) children. That's been a different ball of wax for some of us.

Arktinkerer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 307
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #121 on: January 30, 2017, 10:11:36 AM »
My brother and my biggest worry about inheritance?  Trying to get my mother to spend more money and enjoy life now.  Try and get your parents to spend and enjoy what they have NOW so there are so many memories and so little assets left no one wants to bother fighting.

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3127
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #122 on: January 30, 2017, 10:12:34 AM »
We are living this. 

Of course by the time MIL dies, she could have nothing.  Which we keep telling SIL when she talks about "her house".

MIL has some amount of cash and 3 houses.  We will (maybe) inherit 2 cheap houses and cash.  SIL will inherit the $$$$$ house.  The $$$$$ house is worth more than the other 3 combined.  In addition, the assets will be sold off as needed if MIL needs care- and "ours" will go first, with the $$$$$ house being preserved at all costs due to emotional attachment (MIL doesn't even live in it!)

We don't need the money.  There is a good chance we will be FI by then.  BUT- its still extremely hurtful.  Especially since SIL has been on economic outpatient care  for 20 years.  Why would MIL give SIL not only thousands in help every year, but also the lions share of her estate?

Whatever her reasons, it hurts, and I see no reason to move beyond that.  Its her money but its still shitty thing to do. 

I can see the behaviors and patterns that led MIL to this point, but that doesn't make me have any desire to forgive and move on.  In this case SIL struggled while young, and some extra help was justified.  But rather than eventually growing out of it and/or allowed to fail, the constant bail-outs just reinforced the behavior. 

I can see how if it was my own parent I would want to forgive/forget/move past, but frankly she wasn't my favorite person to start with, and this just reinforces my opinion.  I will admit on an anonymous online message board that I vindictively hope my MIL needs a decade of long term care and spends every cent of her money, and SIL gets nothing. 
Journal:  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/mayday's-journal/350/  featuring children, chickens (new!) and other ch words.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #123 on: January 30, 2017, 10:13:34 AM »
Try and get your parents to spend and enjoy what they have NOW so there are so many memories and so little assets left no one wants to bother fighting.

Ah, but like everything else in this matter, we do not have that control.

Several of us have urged my mum to spend, for a more comfortable life, to see her dreams fulfilled even once. But, she doesn't want to so she doesn't. This too is her choice :)

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #124 on: January 30, 2017, 10:15:25 AM »
BUT- its still extremely hurtful.  Especially since SIL has been on economic outpatient care  for 20 years.  Why would MIL give SIL not only thousands in help every year, but also the lions share of her estate?

Whatever her reasons, it hurts, and I see no reason to move beyond that.  Its her money but its still shitty thing to do.

Yes.

I sure do hear all that...

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 471
  • Location: Germany
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #125 on: January 30, 2017, 11:07:52 AM »
My hope is that my parents are not going to leave a big inheritance because I want them to spend it on themselves.

So no, I don't feel 'entitled'.

However, it would seriously bug me should they decide to split it unequally without a really good reason (like care provided by my brother in their old age). I really don't get why this is so difficult to understand. You can raise your kids with all your love and cheap if any material gifts. However, if you have two and buy one nothing and the other one expensive things would anyone seriously argue against that this is both unfair and a reflection of different emotions towards the two children?

What absolutely makes sense is not to dwell on it, not to be bitter and not to involve the grandchildren and damage their relationship to their grandparents. But no, there is no moral debt to act like you don't know what you know or pretend that you like it and agree with it.

If at all possible, I would recommend discussing those things including one's honest feelings while everyone is still alive. I know no, I repeat: not a single case, where unequal inheritances for no good reason (special needs children, care in old age) did not create resentment years and sometimes decades down the line.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2017, 01:36:20 PM by Lyssa »

Kiwi Fuzz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
  • Location: Massachusetts
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #126 on: January 30, 2017, 12:12:16 PM »
Maybe it's easier for me to let go of the idea of inheritance...

Though, that's another topic, yeah? i.e., A person might very easily let go of the idea of an inheritance (when there's nothing, when parents decide to spend everything, when parents decide to give it to charity, etc). In this thread, the only struggle some seem to be having is when a parent decides to give one of their children vastly more than they give other (good, loving, present, active) children. That's been a different ball of wax for some of us.

Quite.

I guess my point was a bit lost in my rambling. I don't consider my parents to be fair or balanced people (not a value judgment - they're only human like anyone else). They are flawed and imperfect, they have unique relationships with each of their children, and I don't expect equal treatment from them in life or in death. I love them but I have come to accept their limits (as much as I can). I have a sibling who has never accepted our father's short comings as a parent and she's constantly heart broken over it - to the point where she wasn't sure if she wanted her own son to have a relationship with is grandfather. I guess I understand the concept but not the emotions that follow. Maybe I somehow missed out on the sibling rivalry urge? I don't know.

Perhaps my contribution to the conversation is simply unhelpful. If so, I apologise.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #127 on: January 30, 2017, 12:19:02 PM »
Perhaps my contribution to the conversation is simply unhelpful.

Not at all :)   The above post was beautiful and very definitely relevant. I'm glad you're sharing, and am grateful for the clarifying addition.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #128 on: January 30, 2017, 12:29:05 PM »
I know I can't bear to see any resource wasted anywhere—time, money, environment, energy.

I'm still thinking about this piece...

It seems to me there are at least two types (ish) of people:

1. People unconcerned with how and where resources flow.
2. People very concerned with how and where resources flow.

The former might shrug off "inequality" of disbursement in any area: municipal budgets, land zoning, etc.
The latter might feel intensely about "injustice" wherever it is, i.e., not only if it affects them personally.

I wonder if there's any correlation between people who would feel affected by an unequal inheritance, and those who notice injustice in various places in the world and feel triggered to fight for it.

There may well be some individuals for whom this doesn't apply, but I wonder if aside from that there is a pattern?

I've spent my whole life working for justice for others, and am aggrieved when I see waste anywhere. My struggle hasn't been specific to my sibling situation. It's hard to suddenly "turn off" the work/advocating just because it happens to be inside the family. (And, it occurs to me now, perhaps my passion for justice came from an early childhood experience of injustice. In which case it all ties together.)

deborah

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4902
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #129 on: January 30, 2017, 01:05:12 PM »
There is also the problem that we all face all the time - what is fair, what is equal, and when does equal matter.

From kiwi fuzz's post, I realise that I have already inherited unequally. In a few weeks I will get my great great grandparents bed (once it has been fixed) and in my bedroom I already have a set of drawers from another set of great great grandparents, and there are a couple of chairs that I have received over the years. The bed is costing more than it is worth to fix (for some reason my great grandparents chopped the top off it, and I am having it restored to original condition), and most of the other stuff did too (repairs and french polishing are expensive). However, the fact remains that I have received these things and my siblings haven't - and that I was upset when mum gave away a couch (from yet another great great grandmother) to one of her cousins (why didn't she offer it to me?). When grandmother gave me the drawers, they were in the chicken coop.

However, my siblings have never expressed any interest in any of this stuff. One of them has the family christening gown. But there's now nothing left for my siblings to inherit from our ancestors except the family bible. My aunt initially sounded somewhat jealous that I was receiving the bed, but when she worked out what was being done to it said that it would have been cheaper to buy another one, so she is OK with it. So at some future time, will my siblings be upset, and think that I was given everything of value? And what will that do to our relationships?

And have they already been upset - just not saying anything, like I didn't say anything about the couch?



trollwithamustache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 154
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #130 on: January 30, 2017, 01:51:48 PM »
When you were a teenager, you were actually right. Your parents really are crazy.

Seriously though, depending on your view this has happened several times in my family.  The Grandparents skip a generation with the estate getting split equally among 5 grandchildren, but there were only two kids in the middle generation, so are the payouts fair? that's happened a bunch in the extended family.

Different generations view property values differently.  My parents own a house in the SF-bay area and will tell you the Zestimate value is wrong and the "real price in a normal market" is 2/3 of that. Neither set of grandparents really new what their homes where worth.  One under valued, and over over valued. A very dated, deferred maintenance home and they passed at a time when the real estate markets wasn't so hot... it was not a "million dollar property" One child got cash and the other a hot real estate mess. My mom got the cash and IMHO a way better deal but she is still pissed off about it. 

Heck, my parents have a property that they are 100% convinced I want to inherent more than anything and have possibly built their estate plan around that. The property is in a state I refuse to travel to and haven't been to in years.

Parents are Crazy. They may actually be doing something they think is fair. Then the divorced set remarry and really complicate it.

Angeliqueshara

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #131 on: January 30, 2017, 04:39:46 PM »
My dad told me a few years ago I get nothing when he dies, because his ex wife, who is in charge of his meager 'estate' hates me almost as much as I hate her and will be a spiteful b*tch.  At the time she was still speaking to my sister and brother (her son) and they were likely to have a say in getting something but now I'm not sure. I don't give a toss about getting something. I don't need or want anything, except a certain Christmas album - but unless my brother is able to get it for me I'm SOL on that, so I  am looking for it elsewhere. He hooked up with her when I was 8, so it's been almost 40 years of a slow deterioration of my respect and care for him. His ball-less, shit choices in life  bum me out more than any lack of inheritance.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #132 on: January 30, 2017, 04:41:31 PM »
...I want to do and provide financially all that I can for my widowed mother.  Lucky for me, I have nine siblings who feel the same way.  "Can I take her on a trip?"  "Does she need any toilet paper?"  "Can I fill her car with gas, bring a pot of soup, buy her a new pair of warm boots,  hire a guy to shovel her snow?"  These are the things we think about with respect to our Mother.  It's unfathomable to me to be any other way.

^ Aside from two people, that's exactly how it is in our family :)     So lovely!!! I bet it's true in a lot of individuals on this forum, too.

pachnik

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1412
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #133 on: January 30, 2017, 04:55:47 PM »
...I want to do and provide financially all that I can for my widowed mother.  Lucky for me, I have nine siblings who feel the same way.  "Can I take her on a trip?"  "Does she need any toilet paper?"  "Can I fill her car with gas, bring a pot of soup, buy her a new pair of warm boots,  hire a guy to shovel her snow?"  These are the things we think about with respect to our Mother.  It's unfathomable to me to be any other way.

^ Aside from two people, that's exactly how it is in our family :)     So lovely!!! I bet it's true in a lot of individuals on this forum, too.

+1 I love kite's situation. 

gerardc

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 238
  • Age: 33
  • Location: SF bay area
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #134 on: January 30, 2017, 08:29:10 PM »
My brother and my biggest worry about inheritance?  Trying to get my mother to spend more money and enjoy life now.  Try and get your parents to spend and enjoy what they have NOW so there are so many memories and so little assets left no one wants to bother fighting.

I thought one of the tenets of this site is that money doesn't bring happiness ;)

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #135 on: January 30, 2017, 08:31:51 PM »
lol, gerardc! Well played :)

deborah

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4902
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #136 on: January 30, 2017, 08:32:30 PM »
My brother and my biggest worry about inheritance?  Trying to get my mother to spend more money and enjoy life now.  Try and get your parents to spend and enjoy what they have NOW so there are so many memories and so little assets left no one wants to bother fighting.

I thought one of the tenets of this site is that money doesn't bring happiness ;)
That's right - obviously, from this thread, money doesn't bring inheritors or non-inheritors or their families happiness. Best thing to do is for the inheritance to be spent before it is an issue.



Arktinkerer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 307
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #137 on: January 31, 2017, 09:40:53 AM »
My brother and my biggest worry about inheritance?  Trying to get my mother to spend more money and enjoy life now.  Try and get your parents to spend and enjoy what they have NOW so there are so many memories and so little assets left no one wants to bother fighting.

I thought one of the tenets of this site is that money doesn't bring happiness ;)
That's right - obviously, from this thread, money doesn't bring inheritors or non-inheritors or their families happiness. Best thing to do is for the inheritance to be spent before it is an issue.

I appreciate the jest--at least I hope I do.  I'm sure most people know what I mean. Some of the items she needed a "push" on--

Dear friend was ill.  She needed to be told it was ok to buy a plane ticket to visit her.
She wanted the family together for Thanksgiving.  Similar encouragement to get a plane tickets for a grandchild that was away a college and couldn't swing the airfare and a couple others.
Trouble dealing with ice trays as the years pass.  When it was time to replace her 20 year old fridge she got one with an icemaker.
Loves to cook.  Always hated her cheap stove.  So we encouraged her to get one she really wanted.  She's been thrilled and wonders why she went years with the old piece of junk.  Biggest splurge on the list.
Road trip to visit another grandchild for their 21st birthday.

Yes, we shop around for best prices on the stove, fridge, tickets.  But these are cases where spending money made her life easier or helped create family memories.


Sibley

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1751
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #138 on: January 31, 2017, 09:52:49 AM »
My first two thoughts: 

1) Your kids should really, really know their grandparents no matter what.  And they should see them as often as possible.  Unless your folks are demons or gorgons, grandkids should have a relationship with their grandparents.  This is irrelevant of money.  Everyone gets to a certain age where they wish they had've known a deceased past relative better.  They could end up resentful towards you later in life if they feel they never got a proper chance and it was your fault. 

2) The importance of your sibling's relationship with you overrides any monetary inequality.  (Again--unless they're a troll.) They will (in theory) be around after your parents are gone.  Your kids should know their aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I didn't get to spend much time with my cousins growing up but wish I had.  We had a little reunion last summer and man, as adults they are great--and have amazing young adults of their own.  I now wish we had lived closer so I could watch them (my first cousins once removed?) grow up.

Believe me, sometimes the grandchild DOESN'T want to have a relationship with the grandparent. And there can be very good reasons why.

NeonPegasus

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 140
  • Location: Metro Atlanta, GA
    • Neon Pegasus
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #139 on: January 31, 2017, 10:16:01 AM »
Wow, i just went through this exact scenario last week so I can understand the emotions.  It's not really about the money, it's about what the unequal division means.  I found out my parents are planning to let my adult sister live in their second property (worth millions, in the SF bay area) for free and she will probably eventually inherit it.  She's a Google tech employee and I'm a physician, so neither of us hurt financially. I progressed through three stages of dealing with this:

1. For days, I was irrationally angry at both my sister and my parents, and even threw out some things my mom had gotten my for my birthday as a child.  I felt I couldn't go to family gatherings as act normally towards them ever again.  I considered just asking them to leave me out of their will just to avoid the whole situation altogether. 

2. After a few days, some rationality came back (after some ranting phone calls with friends), and I was once again able to remember all the wonderful things they did for me while growing up.  I convinced myself that as their money has absolutely nothing to do with me, I should not be worried about where it goes.  I recalled what I had read in the book "The Millionaire Next Door" about how the more subsidies adult children receive, the LESS they are able to achieve financial independence. The MORE they receive, the LESS they accumulate. I feel sorry and a little worried for my sister.  I plan to just focus on continuing to reach my goals in life and have confidence that things will be great.  I dug the gifts back out of the garbage.  I thanked my parents for teaching me independence and self-confidence, thus leading to happiness in life.  So rationally I could think about it this way, but I wasn't really "feeling" it yet.

3. And after another few days, I feel back to normal now, and feel that I can have a normal relationship with my sister and parents, even if they leave almost everything to her. I realize it is because they worry about her since she's single, and they have enabled dependence in her due to all their past help, and now it continues. I am again able to see ALL the things my parents have done that show they love me  and appreciate those things, and it shouldn't all just be tossed out because of where they decide to leave their own stuff after they die.  Anyway, I hope that you are able to work things out because it is a very uncomfortable situation to be in.

My husband and I are in this position but on the opposite side. DH has a brother and a sister. Sister has kids but lives across the country. Brother has none and lives close by. Father in law asked DH and I (and our 3 kids) to move in with him in his large house on the river. Out of love and duty, we agreed. He has set it up that DH and I are to inherit his house when he passes and DH's siblings will get cash. The house is expected to be worth the same as the cash. The inheritance will be "equal" but it certainly isn't our preference. We don't like the house. We don't plan on keeping it. But because we are in this area and have 3 kids, we are the ones most suited to receive it. Further complicating matters is that it hasn't been updated in 40 years and we will be sinking our own money into improving it, which will increase the value and its percentage of father-in-law's estate, thus reducing our portion of the total inheritance.

I think the worst way for me to look at it is to focus to closely on "fairness" because it makes me lose sight of all of the gifts present - firstly, my wonderful father-in-law and secondly, receiving any inheritance at all. So, to the extent that you can let things go out of focus a bit, you'll likely be happier.

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #140 on: January 31, 2017, 10:32:12 AM »
I'm sure most people know what I mean.

We do :)     (Though I, too, appreciate deborah's joke. Was good, lol.)

I'm regularly urging my mum to spend money: art supplies, a beautiful care home, or grab bars and railings in her home, or bus fare, or someone to paint her home in her preferred colours, one of those good walking carts, or...   Except for the grab bars, things she says she wants, or is getting by with broken versions of, or...  But she won't. She says she can't spend that kind of money, even $45/mo for a bus pass. But, she is giving about $20k per year to the one sibling. Hard to see!!

So then I offer to buy it all for her, and that all of us nonreceiving kids would chip in for the care home costs, but she says no to that too.

So then it's time for me to shut up, which is what I try hard to do :)

I'm really glad your mum is accepting these wonderful offers! That's great for her, and so nice for you to get to see her happy and eased :)

mm1970

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4161
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #141 on: January 31, 2017, 11:07:11 AM »
Spork, that was a really sad story.

I can see why the dad did that though.  My grandfather had 7 children.  Their eldest was an alcoholic with 6 kids, and he died before my grandmother.  My grandmother died when I was young, and my grandfather remarried.

My grandfather had a lot of money for our rural area.  In the order of $700k.  It being a conservative area, his trust was set up to give more money to the boys.

So he had a large ($500k) trust for his sons (2 of the 3 because the third worked in the business and got his while he was alive), and a small ($180k) trust for his daughters and daughter in law.  Except the daughter in law only got half of the share and her six kids got the other half.  (confusing to me, because the reason boys get more is because they are taking care of families, but then his daughter in law was a widow.  Why screw her over?  Anyway.)  Regardless, nobody got anything until his 2nd wife died, 16 years after he did (last year).  By then the trust and the bank had done a good job of losing 1/3 of it in the market on their own securities. 

Anyway, my stepfather is very concerned about being fair.  His will splits everything 3 ways for his step children. But because he owns a lot of land, much of it right next door to my sister's house, he decided to grant her the land early so there's no chance of losing it.  Honestly, her husband and son take such good care of him that he should just give it to her outright and not even make it part of the inheritance.

Ann

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 149
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #142 on: January 31, 2017, 11:15:37 AM »
I know no, I repeat: not a single case, where unequal inheritances for no good reason (special needs children, care in old age) did not create resentment years and sometimes decades down the line.

I also think there are different definitions of "good reason".  If one sibling is much more successful than the other, is that a good reason?  If one sibling has spent much more time helping the parents in their later years?   Or if the inheritance is a house, a good reason might be because that is the sibling that lives in the area (even though theoretically the house could be sold and then finances split)?  Or maybe the "good reason" is that one child had children and "needs it more", or one child is single and has no outside back up and "needs it more".

It just seems like circular reasoning.  If the division upsets the child it is because they obviously feel there isn't a "good reason" for it ("because it's not my money and that's what my parents want to do with their money" isn't good enough to them).  If the division doesn't upset the child, it's probably because they feel whatever the reason was good enough.


iris lily

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2259
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #143 on: January 31, 2017, 11:49:02 AM »
Finally, on a somewhat unrelated note, I always kind of hate seeing MMMers talk about being "punished for being responsible" etc. Are you being responsible so you can have independence, freedom, security, and the ability to take care of those you care about? Or are you doing it for a gold star and a prize?

Oh,  I like gold stars and prizes, especially from my family.  It make me feel great.

Hahaha!

I am fortunate that because my parents bent over backwards to be "fair" in financial matters with me and my brother, I didnt have to keep a tab. I trust intent, if nOt  the actualy accountng.

 This reminds me that I have a questin about assets in our will. imwill start anther thread.

And my brother was sceupulously fair and open when handling her estate

2Birds1Stone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2737
  • Age: 29
  • Location: New York
  • CFO
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #144 on: January 31, 2017, 11:52:17 AM »
Here's a different and positive story.

The only daughter took wonderful care of her parents as she stayed nearby. The brothers lived much further away and did not even put in 1% of the effort. The daughter rightfully deserved to inherit a larger fraction or perhaps the entire amount. However, she was aware that if this were to pass, it could create friction especially among her sisters-in-law. She and her husband ensured that the inheritance was equally divided among all siblings.   

Commendable
"A small house can hold as much happiness as a big one." - Fortune Cookie

35 Months Till "Gap Year" - Stop by, or stay a while.....
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/fire-by-thirty-five-chronicles-36-months-till-sabbatical!/

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 471
  • Location: Germany
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #145 on: January 31, 2017, 12:51:15 PM »
I know no, I repeat: not a single case, where unequal inheritances for no good reason (special needs children, care in old age) did not create resentment years and sometimes decades down the line.

I also think there are different definitions of "good reason".  If one sibling is much more successful than the other, is that a good reason?  If one sibling has spent much more time helping the parents in their later years?   Or if the inheritance is a house, a good reason might be because that is the sibling that lives in the area (even though theoretically the house could be sold and then finances split)?  Or maybe the "good reason" is that one child had children and "needs it more", or one child is single and has no outside back up and "needs it more".

It just seems like circular reasoning.  If the division upsets the child it is because they obviously feel there isn't a "good reason" for it ("because it's not my money and that's what my parents want to do with their money" isn't good enough to them).  If the division doesn't upset the child, it's probably because they feel whatever the reason was good enough.

Right. And in my experience the kid getting the smaller share usually has much stricter standards. In particular anything related to choices or lifestyles is taken as a value judgement and/or loving the other more. And most of the time this seems to be spot-on.

Examples include: higher financial independence of a child, marriage status, having children or not, current location.

I would advise anybody thinking about an unequal split to talk it over with those getting less. Why wouldn't you if this very good reason your thinking about is so obvious? 

My paternal grandparents did do this and it all worked out. Sister who cared for both of them did get the house, the little cash they had was split between the rest. One brother was a lot more wealthy than the others gave his share to the caretaking sister as well and everybody was happy. Not sure if it would have been that way had they excluded said brother from the beginning or if he would have taken it as being punished for being successful. This way it was transparent for everybody and a generous move on his part.

Tasty Pinecones

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 617
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #146 on: January 31, 2017, 01:06:12 PM »
I'm not counting on receiving an inheritance from my family, but I don't feel like I need it since I've learned the ways of the moustache. Howerver ...

Quote
I'm wondering how often the parents and siblings come and visit the OP, or if it's just assumed that the OP will do all the traveling "home". A one-way street gets old fast.

What SmartyCat said really struck a chord. After I finished college my career took me lots of places that were far -- but still driving distance -- from my hometown. Early on I made it a priority to get back home 6-8 times a year. I also made a point of keeping up with family birthdays, calling my parents every week, sending gifts if I couldn't be there at Xmas. I've been in the US for 20 years -- still within driving distance -- and family members have visited me twice in that time.

After about 15 years of this I started ratcheting back my visits and communications. Only recently, in my now-infrequent phone calls with my mother, she's started to ask why I'm not in touch as often.

There's a lot more to this, but the words "one-way street" really encapsulate my experience.

Not worth the mental and emotional wear and tear to deal with family who treat each other like this. On one hand it is the parents' money to spend. On the other hand it would be nice to have someone do for us like was done for the parents and like they have done for a sibling. It would help us reach our financial goals sooner and maybe make some aspects of like easier.

Sibling got alot of help - no health problems, no lack of education, no drinking or drugs - just that one was the favorite and because they are who they are "they needed the help" (excuses on the parents' part). They all got "easy" and we got conversation... I guess I could say they gave us reason to succeed on our own too. ;)

Best to make peace with it and continue onward.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 02:43:32 PM by Tasty Pinecones »

Laura33

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 519
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #147 on: February 01, 2017, 08:27:28 AM »
The problem comes down to what is fair?  Your parents may be trying to do what they think is fair, but defining it differently. 

Since I'm a lawyer, I'll give you a law-school-like hypothetical, a/k/a my situation:  I am my mom's only child; my stepdad has two from a prior marriage.  They were married from the time I was 9, so he was truly a second dad; they always kept their finances separate.  He died a few years ago, so now the Q is what my mom should do in her will.  Of the three kids:  I am a lawyer, married to another professional, so we are stable, reliable, etc.  Stepsister is stable, social worker, very good person (better than I am), married to good guy with low-paying career.  Stepbro is a good person who has suffered from depression/anxiety and has had trouble maintaining steady employment; he previously lived with my mom and stepdad for a while, now lives in his mom's basement.  They both received more support growing up (e.g., cars, college loans paid off) due to fundamental differences between my stepdad and mom over what parents should pay for; probably due to those same differences, she saved more than he did.  I live very close to my mom and will be the one to take care of "stuff" as she gets older; they live on the other side of the continent.  Everyone loves each other and wants to do right by each other.

So what is "fair" here?  Options:

1.  I get half, they each get 25% (half to "her" side, half to "his"; assuming she comingles his $ with hers after his death and we can't tease out precise dollars). 
2.  They get all his money (shared 50/50), I get all hers (assuming she keeps his funds separate and lives off of hers)
3.  We each get 1/3.
4.  Stepbro gets sufficient $ in trust to ensure he has a safe place to live for the rest of his life; the rest is split 50/50 between me and stepsis.
5.  Stepbro gets sufficient $ in trust to ensure he has a safe place to live for the rest of his life; Stepsis gets more of what's left so she can enjoy some of the fun stuff I already get to; I get less.
6.  Stepbro is written out of the will as a leech and a loser.  Stepsis and I split it 50/50.
7.  Stepbro is written out of the will as a leech and because he has already received far more economic outpatient care than anyone else.  Stepsis and I split the rest 40/60 or 25/75 because I provided more support.
8.  We start from 1/3 shares, but I get a little more reflecting the benefit of the paid-off loans, cars, etc. my siblings received and the burden of being the "close" kid.
9.  Any of 83 other variations on the above.

I actually don't think there is any "right" answer to this question -- my point is that any of these could be "right" depending on how you look at the facts.  So I don't think the right question is whether the parents are being "fair" -- it's what is their definition of "fair"?  Talk to them, figure that out.  IME, much of the "unfairness" relates to different expectations, i.e., parents giving more $ to one kid because they worry about them ending up out on the street (a/k/a desire to protect vulnerable child outweighs desire to teach kid to stand on feet), which is interpreted by more successful child as punishment for success.

(FWIW, my mom is veering toward "you should get all *my* money," because they always kept separate money; I am pushing for an even 1/3 split, because my stepbro will absolutely see that as a final, damaging rejection.  In the end, I am executor, so she can do whatever she wants and I figure I'll fix it once she's gone.).

In the end, this issue is what you make of it.  You get to choose whether you let this divide your family; you get to choose whether you let this affect your or your kids' relationship with your parents/their grandparents; you get to choose to see this as the final arbiter of your worth to your parents/your parents' love for you, or as a difference in what different, equally-reasonable and equally-flawed people see as "fair."  Their decision doesn't define you; how you choose to respond to it does.  When I was a teenager, my grandma remarried a year or two before her death.  My whole life, I thought she had left me $3K in the will, which I used to pay my first year law school tuition.  Turns out, she wrote me out of the will in favor of her new husband, and my mom paid that money out of her own inheritance.  But my mom never told me, because she didn't want it to affect how I thought of my grandma.  OTOH, my grandpa was one of three brothers, and the only one who didn't want to stay on the farm.  So his parents gave the farm to two brothers, and cash that they thought was 1/3 the value of the farm to my grandpa.  But by the time they died, the farm was worth probably 100x my grandpa's share, and he never spoke to his brothers again.

It's up to you whether you want to be like my mom or my grandpa.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

jooniflorisploo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1189
  • Location: The Great Slow Travelling Hunt to Find Our Big House
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #148 on: February 01, 2017, 09:23:32 AM »
^ All of that sounds entirely reasonable and true for a parent that is concerning itself with fair.

Lots of parents don't use "fair" as a consideration. For many parents, the starting point is one of, "Can I be bothered thinking about this?" "Joe asked me for the house, so I gave it to him." "I wrote a will according to the circumstances we all had 20 years ago, and now I'm too tired to update it." The will that exists according to a perspective like one of these (or something equally not about logic) can look very weird to everyone involved.

HAPPYINAZ

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 267
Re: Unequal inheritance - what would you do?
« Reply #149 on: February 01, 2017, 09:38:19 AM »
If the sole purpose of my relationship with my parents or grandparents was to gain a vested interest in their money, then I would cut them as soon as I found out I am not getting a "good deal"

However, my relationship with family has nothing to do with their money.  If they give me $10, good.  If they give me a million, great.  If they give me nothing, I am okay with that.  If my sibling got a million and I got nothing?  Good for my sibling.

I am pretty content with my life as it is.  If I wasn't I would work harder/smarter to become more content.


Totally agree with this.  I never understood people who worry about equal inheritance.  Your parents worked hard for their money, you are not entitled to it,  they can use it how they see fit.  Unless they are doing something unethical or illegal or damaging to their financial future, I don't see why it matters.  Your parents should be able to use their money in the way they think is best.  If you base your relationship with your family on how much money they give you, that just seems really sad.  To the OP's original question....what would I do if I knew an unequal inheritance was being given out....nothing, I would do nothing but be happy that my parents were in the position to even have an inheritance to give out and be thankful if I got anything.