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Old 11-20-2007, 08:09 PM   #21
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Youbet - Grandma wanted things managed by "her son" even though my mom (her daughter) was relatively close. For whatever reason, the boys always held a higher position in the family.

Remember, this tussle started with my mom's request for a copy of the will and not because of any arguing about the amount of money my uncle was going to send my mom. Mom accepted the amount uncle told her he was sending. Things started going south when mom requested uncle send a copy of the will and a copy of the death certificate to document why $40,000 showed up in her checking account in case she was every audited by the IRS.

What is the big deal about sending my mom a copy of the will? Making this request or fulfilling this request should not be a big deal.

ChrisC - The will was not recorded prior to death. The requirement is that the will is filed within 40 days of death.
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Old 11-21-2007, 01:56 AM   #22
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Youbet - Grandma wanted things managed by "her son" even though my mom (her daughter) was relatively close. For whatever reason, the boys always held a higher position in the family.

Remember, this tussle started with my mom's request for a copy of the will and not because of any arguing about the amount of money my uncle was going to send my mom. Mom accepted the amount uncle told her he was sending. Things started going south when mom requested uncle send a copy of the will and a copy of the death certificate to document why $40,000 showed up in her checking account in case she was every audited by the IRS.

What is the big deal about sending my mom a copy of the will? Making this request or fulfilling this request should not be a big deal.

ChrisC - The will was not recorded prior to death. The requirement is that the will is filed within 40 days of death.
Given those circumstances, it is strange about uncle not wanting to send copy of the will. It is no big deal in my eyes either. The death certificate you should be able to get on your own from the county records office (or maybe its the Dept Health or a State Wa agency)---does he refuse to send copy of that too?

If $40000 was half, and if there was only a personal residence, then the estate would have been under $100,000 (plus personal residence), and I think would have qualified for the "small estates" rule in WA. That would eliminate probate and just require filing of a form.

Since a request has already been made to uncle for the will, I still would be of a mind now to just put it too him directly---"What's the big deal. We are family, aren't we entitled to know about Grandma's final affairs. We are ok with the money yoiu shared with us. Mom is her daughter and would like these thinbgs for her own records and closure. Can't you as her brother just let her have the will and the death certificate?"

But I am not you, I don't know your uncle, I don't know what else went on, so use your best judgement.

The other poster's point on future family relations, and maybe letting sleeping dogs lay was valid too.

We advise, you decide.
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Old 11-21-2007, 08:13 AM   #23
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What is the big deal about sending my mom a copy of the will? Making this request or fulfilling this request should not be a big deal.

ChrisC - The will was not recorded prior to death. The requirement is that the will is filed within 40 days of death.
Buckeye, I'm repeating myself here about the will. Many counties permit a will to be kept at the county clerk's office. This custody service is designed to ensure that wills don't get misplaced or lost -- it has nothing to do with filing a will for probate. The requirement you mention appears to be a "filing" requirement to start the process of probating an estate in which there is a will. At probate, the "executor" named in the will is generally officially approved by the court authorities to handle the estate.

You asked what's the big deal with your uncle sending your mother a copy of the will and the death certificate.

The will thing could be a big deal for him because it might suggest that your mother wants to probate the will. If the will hasn't been probated, then there's the potential for everything that he's done to be unwound. He might also feel that your mother is all about the money and property set forth in the will -- this might be upsetting to your uncle, particularly if he has made a family decision to handle the estate on an intestate basis and give your mother half of the deposit accounts that technically belong to him. And we don't know how the nursing home care was financed, perhaps he's on the hook for that or had to sell or reverse mortgage your Grandma's personal residence. Of course, I'm speculating about your uncle's feelings and how he might have handled Grandma's stuff. But my point here is that the "big deal" to him might be quite different than other inferences that could be drawn.

So, as I asked before, if there is a will, then your mother should ask your uncle why it hasn't been probated in the most diplomatic and nonconfrontational manner. We all might be surprised at his answer if he's the great guy you used to know.

The request for the death certificate might be sending the wrong message to your Uncle, especially if it were joined with the request for the will. Why does your mother need that certificate, which is a public record in which you can get a "certified copy" from the appropriate state agency? You can also probably go to the funeral home that handled the funeral arrangements and copy the certified copy it might have for your Grandma. The idea that you need a copy of the death certificate to document why the $40K showed up in your mother's account for a potential IRS audit -- this would be strange to me. If this money came from the jointly-titled deposit accounts, then the will and the death certificate are irrelevant for documentation purposes. I will point out that your uncle is probably on the hook for a gift tax and it would have been better for him to have this money pass through probate than through this gratuitous transfer.

A lot of our family issues are caused by a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings, which I think is occurring here. This needs to be straighten-out before it gets worse.

Take care and good luck.
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Old 11-21-2007, 09:24 AM   #24
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Your mother and her brother can probably sit down, go over everything in detail, and come to a family agreement.

What is not needed is you looking over her shoulder and armchair quarterbacking.

Consider if you and a sibling were to have a similar event in the distant future.

Third party involvment is going to complicate things that may have a logical explanation.

Unless your mother is incapable of managing her own affairs, you should stay out of it.
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Old 11-21-2007, 02:01 PM   #25
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You asked what's the big deal with your uncle sending your mother a copy of the will and the death certificate.

The will thing could be a big deal for him because it might suggest that your mother wants to probate the will. If the will hasn't been probated, then there's the potential for everything that he's done to be unwound. He might also feel that your mother is all about the money and property set forth in the will -- this might be upsetting to your uncle, particularly if he has made a family decision to handle the estate on an intestate basis and give your mother half of the deposit accounts that technically belong to him. And we don't know how the nursing home care was financed, perhaps he's on the hook for that or had to sell or reverse mortgage your Grandma's personal residence. Of course, I'm speculating about your uncle's feelings and how he might have handled Grandma's stuff. But my point here is that the "big deal" to him might be quite different than other inferences that could be drawn..............

So, as I asked before, if there is a will, then your mother should ask your uncle why it hasn't been probated in the most diplomatic and nonconfrontational manner. We all might be surprised at his answer if he's the great guy you used to know..................

Take care and good luck.
Yes, diplomatic and lowkey is good. But with all the "maybe this or maybe that's" as to uncle and grandma's will, if mom is going to forever wonder, she definitely needs to air the situation openly, face to face, with uncle. And uncle, if he values future family relations, needs to respond openly and diplomatically himself.

Now if mom can live without wondering forever more about "what the big deal was" with uncle and grandma's will, then she can let it drop.

As to human nature---heck, now *I* am wondering what was in the will, what has uncle done for grandma along the way, why is asking for a copy of the will *maybe* such a big deal to uncle.

Why? Why? Why? Yes, a full and open and diplomatic airing. Mom and Uncle sit down face to face. Have it out.

Good luck and hope mom and uncle resolve things to each's complete satisfaction.
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Old 11-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #26
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This has been an interesting thread for me because:

1. A situation on the inlaw side of my family occurred a few years ago which is so similar it's facinating. Sadly, it ended poorly and now is an unpleasant discussion topic with local relatives bitching about out of town relatives whenever the locals are together for Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. In fact, this thread has reminded me of the dreaded bitch session which will no doubt occur at dinner tomorrow....... Thankfully, it turns from hissing to laughing in about ten minutes.

2. My elderly MIL needs some money management overview to help her get by financially and DW thinks I am the perfect candidate to do so. I even began digging in and got some great advise on this forum. But since then, remembering the previously mentioned incident, I've backed out and strongly encouraged DW to get one of her siblings to be the "go to guy." No way do I want to become the BIL who "screwed things up" or is "hiding something" or yadda-yadda-yadda....... No matter what you do, whatever course of action your pursue, you'll be overviewed and critiqued later by all the folks not doing anything now.....

Buckeye..... my best wishes and hopes that your mom and her brother are able to reconcile this issue to their mutual satisfaction and without grudges or hard feelings. These are always tough situations. Good luck and thanks for sharing this. It's been a good reminder for me!
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Old 11-22-2007, 12:01 AM   #27
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Something about this thread keeps bothering me. It's got me hooked, and I can't get the hook out!

To try and put my finger on what bothers me, it is this: deep down I guess I feel full disclosure is always the best policy.

We and OP have discussesd what *might* be going on with uncle, but it is all speculation. At this point only uncle knows what his motives are for not letting sis and niece see grandma's will.

Uncle may well be acting in what he believes are the best interests of grandma's estate, and of the family, as well as himself. He *may* think sharing the will with the family might upset some apple cart, or sis after seeing the will may misjudge what he has done with the estate.

But if he thinks that, isn't he really judging sis (and niece) and NOT trusting them to *understand*? In short, I think his action in not sharing the will, is an act of mistrust, and an act that of itself may breed further actual mistrust by the family back to him.

And I come back to my down deep feeling: *full disclosure is always the best policy*. Uncle should trust sis (and niece) to listen to his explanations as he shares grandma's will, and why he is settling the estate as he is.

There, I've got it out.

Regards and goodluck Buckeye, and best wishes for a satisfactory resolution of the situation for all of your family.
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Old 11-22-2007, 12:09 AM   #28
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I appreciate all the comments from everyone. The only reason I ended up being involved in the situation is because mom asked me to google certain topics for her since she does not have a computer or internet access. Once I started helping her, I thought posting here would provide some useful input (which it has) from people who have been through this type of situation.

Mom said she has made her desire for information and documentation (not additional money) clear to uncle. She has also made it clear to him she has no desire to make things more complicated than necessary but that she feels entitled to copies of the official documentation. I gave her the phone number where she can get a copy of the death certificate so it's up to her to take care of that but a copy sent by uncle would be cheaper than the $31 an official copy costs.

Uncle's response to mom's documentation requests was "fine, you'll have your check by Friday" even though that was not what she was asking for. That was last Friday and no check yet. Too weird.
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Old 11-22-2007, 10:23 AM   #29
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Buckeye....

Your mother must be a bit tough with your Uncle on this one... he is doing something that is not 'right' and is hiding it.. maybe it is better than what your grandmother wanted, but who is he to decide

When my dad died a long time ago.... we had a 'will reading'... anybody who came heard what the will said.. and we would have given any child a copy if they had asked...

And my mother 'gave' the specific gifts he had put in the will even though they were only there in case my mother was already dead... so she went above and beyond what he had said...
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Old 11-22-2007, 12:51 PM   #30
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I posted a similar question about wills not too long ago and the gist of it was Suppose my brother sent me for example $40,000 and said that was my share of Dads estate how exactly do i know what was the contents of Dads estate?,what if it was worth $200,000 and brother was low balling me on what my actual share should be? I certainly dont want to spend the rest of my life always wondering if the Bro ripped me off.
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Old 11-22-2007, 01:25 PM   #31
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We had a situation where BIL, a bank manager, had taken over managing his aunt's financial affairs. When she died, DW was executor, and we discovered documents in their basement (all others had been meticulously cleared out) showing that over $1.5 million was missing from his accounting of her estate. Since DW would have been entitled to 1/6th of that amount, it became a testy issue with her brother.

He just stonewalled and then refused to speak to her again (15 years ago). Where money is involved, many people become irrational.
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Old 11-22-2007, 01:32 PM   #32
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I certainly dont want to spend the rest of my life always wondering if the Bro ripped me off.
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When she died, DW was executor, and we discovered documents in their basement (all others had been meticulously cleared out) showing that over $1.5 million was missing from his accounting of her estate. Since DW would have been entitled to 1/6th of that amount, it became a testy issue with her brother.
These sorts of feelings & stories (many more beyond these quotes) make me hope that there's some sort of beneficiary's disclosure requirements for estate planning and execution. The public isn't always entitled to know, but if you're handed a bag of gold then you'd like to know about its provenance and that some fiduciary management has taken place.

However even if I wanted to give it to charity, I'd rather disclaim the whole thing. It's even more of a relief to not have to worry about who's giving how much to whom, let alone having to sort through conflicts that you never sought in the first place.
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Old 11-22-2007, 01:42 PM   #33
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We had a situation where BIL, a bank manager, had taken over managing his aunt's financial affairs. When she died, DW was executor, and we discovered documents in their basement (all others had been meticulously cleared out) showing that over $1.5 million was missing from his accounting of her estate. Since DW would have been entitled to 1/6th of that amount, it became a testy issue with her brother.

He just stonewalled and then refused to speak to her again (15 years ago). Where money is involved, many people become irrational.
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Old 11-22-2007, 08:30 PM   #34
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Jambo101 - At least my grandmother had a will although my mom's situation shows that just because a will exists, things don't necessarily go smoothly. If you can convince your parents to get wills, I would recommend asking for a copy.

Khan - In the situation you describe it sounds like people became greedy and thieves where money was involved, not irrational.
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Old 09-01-2008, 05:35 PM   #35
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My uncle ended up sending my mother a check for $42,000 as her portion of grandma's estate. He never did provide a copy of the will or any type of accounting as to how he came up with the amount. He told her he was spending part of the estate to transport grandma's ashes and grandpa's casket (with him in it) back to the midwest to their home state (moved away 65 years ago) and have them buried there. Grandma and grandpa have no friends or close family back there (everyone but me in WA) and they hadn't been there in 30 years so I didn't really understand the point. Maybe the request was in the will but we didn't get to see it.

Mom accepted the amount uncle sent and that was that. She rarely spoke to her brother other than to discuss issues related to their mom so I doubt there will be lots of future phonecalls.

Grandma requested cremation. There was no funeral but some sort of small service. When I called my uncle at his home on the day of the service, there was a loud party going on in the background. My cousin who lives in Idaho came to the phone to say "hi" and she was all fired up and having a great old time. I didn't have a chance to talk to my other two cousins (her brothers) but I could definitely hear them in the background. None of my cousins had come to visit grandma during her last days (I know, I was at her bedside) and although the boys lived within a few miles of her, they never came to visit her in the assisted living facility during the 18 months she lived there. Not sure what they were celebrating. A financial windfall?
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Old 09-01-2008, 05:48 PM   #36
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Kind of a sad end to the story. Even if that was all your mom was entitled to, by not having full disclosure she will never be able to fully trust her brother.
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Old 09-01-2008, 06:06 PM   #37
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I would still love to see a copy of the will. I have no interest in the money but my curiosity is piqued by the fact that uncle did not want to present a copy for anyone to see. What's the big secret?!
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Old 09-01-2008, 06:39 PM   #38
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horrible what money can do to families.

the probate division of the county court wherein the final will was filed probably can mail you a copy if you are not local to there.
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Old 09-01-2008, 07:35 PM   #39
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Uncle was supposed to record the will with the county but hadn't done so the last time I checked. I will look online again. Nothing official really required to close things out in that all that was left was CD's and bank accounts that were in grandma and Uncle's name and the total amount was under WA state probate requirements.
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