Inheritance issues and family conflict


#1

This is inspired by another thread in a different sub-forum. I know that issues of inheritance and money break up a lot of families and cause difficulties between siblings, sometimes leading to permanent estrangements.

I saw this happen in one family and it was sad. I’ve been out of touch so I don’t know if they healed the wounds but I saw a great deal of bitterness. The other thread plus my experience made me wonder, is there anything that can be done; does “preaching” to people ever work? And can estrangements be healed later? Also how can the parents handle things to minimize the chances of this? I’d like to understand this better and preferably never face it in my own life b/c what I saw was really terrible. thanks.


#2

[quote="silentstar, post:1, topic:216999"]
This is inspired by another thread in a different sub-forum. I know that issues of inheritance and money break up a lot of families and cause difficulties between siblings, sometimes leading to permanent estrangements.

I saw this happen in one family and it was sad. I've been out of touch so I don't know if they healed the wounds but I saw a great deal of bitterness.

[/quote]

I think that most of us have seen this sort of thing and you are right it is sad. Very sad, because one immediately sees where these poor souls have set their hearts. Not on Christ and Heaven, but on self and earth. They need our prayers.

The other thread plus my experience made me wonder, is there anything that can be done;

There are things that can be done - yes. The best time and place to start is when the people are children and they are raised right in the faith. If they are not raised right, or if it "doesn't take", there is little that can be done.

does "preaching" to people ever work?

It might depend on what you mean by "preaching". Trying to talk (preach) to someone who is in the midst of an "inheritance squabble" will likely have little effect. The conversion of the heart generally needs to be done gradually.

And can estrangements be healed later?

Yes. People change - wounds can be healed...But it is much better to avoid it in the first place by clear, loving, communication.

*Also how can the parents handle things to minimize the chances of this? *
Of couse - There are a number of ways this can be done.

A well written and precise Will is the best way. Monitary assets should be divided equally. If there is some reason why this or that heir receives more or less, and the parent chooses not to address this while living, this needs to be spelled out in the Will.

"Real goods", furnature - keepsakes etc.... can be addressed in a will, or can be given away (or promised) before death. My Grandma had tape on the bottom of many things with the name of a child, or grandchild. That person had expressed a desire to have it, and so she labeled it. "First come first served..."

I'd like to understand this better and preferably never face it in my own life b/c what I saw was really terrible. thanks.

The thing to remember is that many times the squabbles are not so much about the money as they are about interpersonal relationships - how this or that one is being treated. Many times the seeds of these disputes are planted years earlier. Close, loving, families will generally work things out. Contentious families will continue to be contentious.

Peace
James


#3

[quote="silentstar, post:1, topic:216999"]
This is inspired by another thread in a different sub-forum. I know that issues of inheritance and money break up a lot of families and cause difficulties between siblings, sometimes leading to permanent estrangements.

I saw this happen in one family and it was sad. I've been out of touch so I don't know if they healed the wounds but I saw a great deal of bitterness. The other thread plus my experience made me wonder, is there anything that can be done; does "preaching" to people ever work? And can estrangements be healed later? Also how can the parents handle things to minimize the chances of this? I'd like to understand this better and preferably never face it in my own life b/c what I saw was really terrible. thanks.

[/quote]

When you've seen this or gone through it, it's truly sickening. I would say to be above-board from the beginning with your kids, set up equal trusts and one for charity, and start giving them your stuff well before you die, also it is in your life - are you attached to your stuff or do you live as if none of that is meaningful?

I have seen that people who didn't have a satisfying relationship with their relative, are the most tenacious when grabbing the possessions. They want their token that they never received when the person was alive, "At LEAST I got x amount of money or x piece of jewelry." Sad.

Some people say just spend all your money and don't leave anything to your kids.

:shrug:


#4

[quote="silentstar, post:1, topic:216999"]
This is inspired by another thread in a different sub-forum. I know that issues of inheritance and money break up a lot of families and cause difficulties between siblings, sometimes leading to permanent estrangements.

I saw this happen in one family and it was sad. I've been out of touch so I don't know if they healed the wounds but I saw a great deal of bitterness. The other thread plus my experience made me wonder, is there anything that can be done; does "preaching" to people ever work? And can estrangements be healed later? Also how can the parents handle things to minimize the chances of this? I'd like to understand this better and preferably never face it in my own life b/c what I saw was really terrible. thanks.

[/quote]

I don't think I quite understand what you mean by the word "preaching". Can you explain that some more?

I know my parents are/were very proactive about their estate and their wills after my dad suffered a heart attack and had bypass surgery and I don't think it can be stressed enough that parents really should get their affairs in order BEFORE it is necessary or too late to worry about their wishes. I think it is very unfair for parents to think their children will know what they want done and how things should be divided if they have never legally done anything themselves about the situation. If they can, at the very minimum parents should arrange for their burial expenses.

As far as children go, adult children should not bank on getting an inheritance. Many adult children think their going to get a great deal of the estate when their parents die and that should never be taken for granted. The only thing I expect to be in my mom's will when she passes is how the family business will be divided because both my brother and I are already part owners. I am not expecting much else and if I do get something, what a blessing and a gift. I think of a lot of adult children are already doing the math in their head and dividing up their parents' estate before they've even passed away, and when they find their math doesn't match what is in the will, that's when the family squabbling seems to start.

I think the bottom line is parents need to be as proactive as they can about their estate NOW and adult children need to talk, and talk and talk with their parents about their wishes as well and legally document it. And then when that's done, forget about it and enjoy the physical presence of your loved ones while you can. Heal what you can and don't think an inheritance is going to mend old family issues.


#5

by “preaching” I didn’t mean religious preaching, but giving speeches about how it’s the relationships that matter and not the stuff…and you should focus on family harmony and your memories of your relative, and etc. - to try to ask people to behave better. My experience is that does not work.

An extended family member, my uncle’s cousin, is visiting my parents this weekend and apparently she’s bringing some family possessions which - is obviously not going to cause big conflict but may cause some discomfort b/c it’s related to my uncle’s death and my mother was talking about who “gets” what. My father is my uncle’s brother and I have two sisters. Quite frankly the way my mother was talking about it, I am tempted to skip the whole thing b/c it is family lore that one of the last times the family visited, when I was 7, I made a rude remark about my family member’s father smoking and then they never visited again. I am sounding really sensitive here but this was all brought up at my uncle’s funeral which was in June and everyone still misses him. There isn’t any money involved here but there are some kind of possessions of sentimental value, I think.

This isn’t the kind of situation I would expect would lead to estrangements or need the kind of ‘preaching’ I talked about but I’m pretty nervous about it. I’m known as the “black sheep” of the family and that was kind of obvious at the funeral. I am trying not to be oversensitive b/c that is who they are but I see opportunities for this to be an uncomfortable experience where I’m “wrong” if I ask for something or not (whatever my relative brings) and I’m thinking about skipping the whole thing but that isn’t polite b/c she almost never visits.

This is a small example. In a more formal situation such as when my parents pass away, it will be a lot easier b/c I have been prepared not to expect anything. They paid for my Catholic high school and college education which helped me get a good job and support myself. But the thing this weekend is about items of sentimental value and I can tell from my experience and some of these responses that those issues can also cause problems even when there is no money involved.

I have diabetes and and my parents serve a lot of simple carbohydrates at meals. I think I will need to either bring my own food or just stop eating with them. I’ve asked for things like whole-grain rolls instead of white-bread ones - after I’ve been asked what I want to eat - and been told that’s not an option - but again, do I just go there and skip most of the meal or say, I should not be eating all this stuff and either bring a substitute or stop eating with them?


#6

I agree, preaching doesn’t help. Especially when the grieving is still fresh for some people, I do believe time does heal wounds and families can mend. But the emotions are so close to the surface when it comes to even a year or two after a family member passes away, I’ve found its best to just quietly butt out of those situations.

I don’t know if you’re looking for advice or not with your own upcoming situation, but if it was me, I’d go and visit with the family member you never get to see and that’s the only thing I’d be concerned about. I’d probably busy myself with getting an extra cup of coffee or something when it came time to “claim” an item. If someone wants to be a part of that “fight”, be the spectator, not the participant.


#7

I think that’s a good idea.


#8

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:3, topic:216999"]
Some people say just spend all your money and don't leave anything to your kids.

[/quote]

This is what I tell my parents. :D

[quote="silentstar, post:5, topic:216999"]
Quite frankly the way my mother was talking about it, I am tempted to skip the whole thing b/c it is family lore that one of the last times the family visited, when I was 7, I made a rude remark about my family member's father smoking and then they never visited again. I am sounding really sensitive here but this was all brought up at my uncle's funeral which was in June and everyone still misses him.

[/quote]

People are holding a grudge, based on something you said when you were SEVEN years old?!?!?! That's awful! :(

[quote="silentstar, post:5, topic:216999"]
I have diabetes and and my parents serve a lot of simple carbohydrates at meals. I think I will need to either bring my own food or just stop eating with them. I've asked for things like whole-grain rolls instead of white-bread ones - after I've been asked what I want to eat - and been told that's not an option - but again, do I just go there and skip most of the meal or say, I should not be eating all this stuff and either bring a substitute or stop eating with them?

[/quote]

:(

This is making me so sad, hearing all this stuff. :hug1: I don't blame you for wanting to just skip out. I think I would feel this way, too.

[quote="PatriceA, post:6, topic:216999"]
I don't know if you're looking for advice or not with your own upcoming situation, but if it was me, I'd go and visit with the family member you never get to see and that's the only thing I'd be concerned about. I'd probably busy myself with getting an extra cup of coffee or something when it came time to "claim" an item. If someone wants to be a part of that "fight", be the spectator, not the participant.

[/quote]

I like this suggestion. A lot. :)


#9

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