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Parents Estate-
Old 04-17-2015, 11:46 AM   #1
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Parents Estate-

After a long battle with Alzheimer's my Father passed in early March of this year.

I was in Guatemala and my sister notified me with a Facebook message.

Facebook...

She made the funeral arrangements with out regard for my input or wishes. Since around 2006 she has made unilateral decisions about my parents welfare, never making any attempt to involve me, but always complaining about the 'responsibility' of caring for the parents. I returned several times, once for almost one year, to help her but it was never enough. She complained when I was away and she complained even more when I returned to assist her.

Long story short, my sister received about 90% of the parents wealth before they passed. The Will is fair - a 50/50 split- but there's not much left.

I phoned my sister and asked her if she thought the distribution was fair- man did she burn my ears before she hung up on me.

Yeah, I should have been more assertive early on but I thought she would be more fair minded. Boy was I wrong...

So for the parents here, TALK to your children and explain your wishes, especially if one child is to receive more. There are no guarantees that they will all accept your decision, but they are far more likely to do so than if there is little or no communication.

For the siblings here, talk to each other and don't tolerate a bully or selfish behavior.

I was naive, I never understood family squabbles over inheritance, but I do now.
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Old 04-17-2015, 11:51 AM   #2
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Sadly, I don't believe your story is all that unusual...

I have one spawn, a son, so hopefully it will be relatively straightforward. But, then, I'll be dead, so...
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:06 PM   #3
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^ Yes I was naïve.


My sister was very close to our Father and she also doesn't handle stress very well. She needed to 'lash out' and I was her target.
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:15 PM   #4
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I can't comment when only hearing one side of the story.

One question - I take it you travel, did you leave your sister with instructions on how she could contact you in case of emergency? If not, then maybe Facebook was the most expedient thing she could think of.

Our family just ran into a similar situation - one sibling traveling, and no contact info provided. Facebook was one attempt. So maybe there is an explanation?

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Old 04-17-2015, 12:16 PM   #5
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Seems to me that all siblings should have equal access to view the parents financial statements on a regular basis.

If one sibling starts to have his/her name added as joint account holder, "for convenience to the parents of course", then the other siblings would be aware of this and perhaps could tip off the parents of the legal results (ie that the legal titling of the accounts will supersede any directions in a Will). I wonder if their is boilerplate language that could be stated in a Will that would address this situation? (ie "all siblings will split my assets equal after adjusting for jointly held accounts").

Seems like this thing happens far too often.

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Old 04-17-2015, 12:29 PM   #6
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Her story is probably quite different (even your description of returning for almost a year to "help her" sort of shows that it was her task, not yours). Maybe the 90 percent of your parents' wealth had to be spent on them. You could thank her for nine years of day by day caring for your parents and let it go.

Really sorry about your father.
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:40 PM   #7
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My mom and dad both had family squabbles over inheritances. My mom reconciled with her sisters eventually, but 15 years later the hurt feelings have not disappeared. She forgave but will never forget. And my dad has not spoken to his brother since their parents' estate was settled 8 years ago. In my opinion, there is nothing like an inheritance to bring out someone's true colors.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:05 PM   #8
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Her story is probably quite different.
Yes, it's always hard for outsiders to understand what's really going on with another family's dynamics. I do know that being the responsible person for an elderly parent(s) is often a thankless task and requires considerably more effort than the less involved imagine. My wife is playing that role now. Despite her mom being in a NH, it's taken DW roughly 20 hours a week (including commute time) to handle the visiting, doc office visits, hospital stays, shopping for things her mom needs, etc. And she's been doing this for over two years.

It seems like DW's out of town siblings don't get it. They expect email updates and that my DW act on their suggestions and whims. But they don't offer to fly in to take over for a few weeks while we vacation or similar (they could just stay at our house and they are retired).

In our case, MIL is dead broke and down to the lint covered penny at the bottom of her purse so there are zero "estate" issues. But if there was some money, I'd be awfully disappointed (but likely not surprised) if the out-of-towners got very interested at settlement time. One of them already asked for an accounting of how MIL's spend-down to Medicaid went! DW suggested he fly in and take over care duties for a few weeks while she took a break and she'd go over the numbers with him then. He backed off.........

There was never any real money involved in all this. MIL's spend-down to Medicaid took less than two years and involved the money from the sale of her condo. We've spent thousands on incidentals for MIL since this all started and DW has an unpaid part time job which does not allow for vacations, time off, sick days or any other benefit other than feeling she's doing the right thing for her mom. Yet the siblings seem concerned about the money.........

It's really kind of sicko and you have to live it to understand it.

BTW, I'm NOT implying that OP's situation is in anyway parallel to ours. I'm sure it isn't. My point is total agreement with Bestwifeever that these situations with all the crazy family dynamics are hard to interpret from the outside. Sometimes caregivers are saints, sometimes bums, but mostly just trying to get the job done and still have a life.

My advise to Lancelot..... Unless there is some real money involved, let it go. Even if your sister did spend a few bux inappropriately, so what?
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:06 PM   #9
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In my opinion, there is nothing like an inheritance to bring out someone's true colors.
+1

Yep, and mix inheritance with years of uncompensated caregiving duties and the potential for fireworks is there big time.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:14 PM   #10
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You have left out quite a few important details in your post, obviously you think you sister did you wrong.

I'm not so sure, one thing that bothers me is your keep saying that your sister "complained" all the time. I was involved with the day to day care of my MIL who also had Alzheimer's for 2 and a half years while she remained in her own home. The hardest thing I have ever gone thru. I can't imagine 9 years of it. A couple of kids who did not want involvement in her care would call and give opinions and complain about stuff, yet never wanted to be part of the equation.

You didn't complain about the quality of care, you just complain that you don't like her attitude toward you. If I was your sister, I'd probably be PO'd too with your attitude about the money. You complain about how she contacted you and about how she did the funeral service, so you have complained about plenty yourself.

You are implying that your sister is a thief, which would make anybody mad. As far as true colors nine years of solitary involvement with an impaired parent, speaks pretty highly of your sister, in my opinion anyway.

Sorry for your loss and apparently you now have lost your sister as well. Maybe some time will help you both and you can try to make something of your relationship.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:23 PM   #11
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Didn't we (this forum) recently advise a younger person that thay shouldn't expect an inheritance?

Of one (really) takes that attitude, then whatever you end up with is a nice surprise.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:42 PM   #12
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Sorry for your loss. Your story is much too common. Our family went through this event last year. I'd always known my two dear sisters are special. Their action's showed it. No fighting arguing or bad feelings. It doesn't happen that often. I truly am blessed.

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Old 04-17-2015, 01:45 PM   #13
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Lancelot - I am very sorry for your loss.

Like some of the others, I can see the other side. My SIL has been taking care of/helping MIL (and FIL till he passed) for several years. We were doing it half the year for a while, to give SIL a break, but MIL refuses to come here anymore (we live in a different state, but built a granny flat specifically for caring for MIL/FIL.) My DH has legal guardianship - so he does the bills/banking/etc. My SIL is worn out and stressed from the demands of caring for MIL. MIL wants to move to be nearer 3 other adult children of hers - but no-one is willing to take on the responsibility of visiting her a few times a week. (She would move to an assisted living /memory care situation, although she hasn't accepted that yet.) Yet these siblings are very quick to criticize SIL if she doesn't do enough for MIL or says she needs help. They also don't want the expense of assisted living and are arguing that as long as SIL visits daily, MIL (who has dementia) can stay at home. Some question any spending that has happened in the care of MIL because they perceive that as their inheritance.

My husband is very transparent about the finances with his siblings. He has to file reports with the court (part of guardianship) and updates his siblings once a quarter. MIL is not rich by any means, and there are 6 children - so any inheritance would be small... I'm not sure why the siblings expect a windfall.

All of this personal observation makes me wonder if there isn't more to the story. However, I can't know from one post on the internet.

I am very sorry for your loss. I hope this disagreement doesn't cause you to lose a relationship with another family member.
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by gauss View Post
If one sibling starts to have his/her name added as joint account holder, "for convenience to the parents of course", then the other siblings would be aware of this and perhaps could tip off the parents of the legal results (ie that the legal titling of the accounts will supersede any directions in a Will).

Seems like this thing happens far too often.

-gauss
Oooh boy, I got to see this first hand with my GF. The caretaker daughter (of 5 sisters) had the joint savings account with her mother, which was to be divided equally among the grandchildren when she died. The caretaker insisted she knew what her mother really wanted (not what was in the will), and since the money was in her name (due to the joint account), she gave the money to all the other GKs (of the other 3 sisters who backed her up) ignoring my GF's 2 kids. Thankfully the amount wasn't life changing, and it was certainly a life lesson for my GF's kids. (I won't get into what I told the sisterhood, but suffice it to say, I won't be invited to any of their parties in the future)
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Old 04-17-2015, 01:57 PM   #15
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Lancelot - sorry for the loss of your father.

Here's a different story:

When my youngest sister (divorced mother of two) passed away unexpecdly at 55 years old two years ago, we could not locate the oldest son, who was kind of a free spirit and loner. Other son was career military in Germany, so no problem there.

Facebook posting searches found the oldest in the Philippines. We managed to contact him though the American Red Cross (I think) and got him to Connecticut in time for the funeral.

Without the internet or social media, I have no idea how we would have found him.
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Old 04-17-2015, 02:03 PM   #16
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As far as the joint account. The way my husband handled it - SIL is on a joint checking account that has < $5k. She uses this to pay for the groceries and incidentals for MIL. My husband transfers money into it as needed from a solo account. It is titled/owned by MIL, but DH has access as legal guardian. All household bills incurred by MIL (trash service, cable, electric bills, etc.) get paid from the solo account. He provides statements (for both accounts) to the court - so he obviously isn't taking money out of the account for anything other than MIL's bills.
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Old 04-17-2015, 02:10 PM   #17
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As far as the joint account. The way my husband handled it - SIL is on a joint checking account that has < $5k. She uses this to pay for the groceries and incidentals for MIL. My husband transfers money into it as needed from a solo account. It is titled/owned by MIL, but DH has access as legal guardian. All household bills incurred by MIL (trash service, cable, electric bills, etc.) get paid from the solo account. He provides statements (for both accounts) to the court - so he obviously isn't taking money out of the account for anything other than MIL's bills.
Is SIL allowed to use the joint checking account to cover some portion of her own expenses in her duties as caregiver? For example, buy herself a tank of gas from time to time.
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:00 PM   #18
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My parents made their wishes clear to my brother, sister, and me over the course of many years and also had them clearly stated in their trust. Any inheritance was to be divided in 3 equal parts and only to go to each of us. Unfortunately my well to do brother who had power of attorney decided to start "gifting" very large sums of money from the trust to his children, their spouses, and grandchildren which both my Dad and Mom specifically told to all of us that this was not to be done. He also contributed large sums of money from the trust to charities of which he was a board member. Again he was told earlier (before he had them declared incompetent) that this was not to be done. These gifts and donations amounted to a few hundred thousand dollars. Fortunately I lived in the same town as my parents and him. It took a lawyer and a lot of time to finally recoup the money that was to have been for Mom's care.

My sister and I never thought this would happen in our family. To have a sibling steal from his parents with no remorse is worse than having an outsider steal. It has been over 8 years since Mom passed away after Dad. I have not spoken to my brother since and have no intention of contacting him in the future.

Now we are having a similar but to a lesser degree experience with my wife's brother. She and I are the only children who have lived a frugal life yet we are the only siblings who have encouraged our parents to enjoy their money while they can and not to be concerned with leaving an inheritance. I don't understand what happens to some people.

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Old 04-17-2015, 03:14 PM   #19
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Yes, it's always hard for outsiders to understand what's really going on with another family's dynamics. I do know that being the responsible person for an elderly parent(s) is often a thankless task and requires considerably more effort than the less involved imagine. My wife is playing that role now. Despite her mom being in a NH, it's taken DW roughly 20 hours a week (including commute time) to handle the visiting, doc office visits, hospital stays, shopping for things her mom needs, etc. And she's been doing this for over two years.

It seems like DW's out of town siblings don't get it. They expect email updates and that my DW act on their suggestions and whims. But they don't offer to fly in to take over for a few weeks while we vacation or similar (they could just stay at our house and they are retired).
Wow, does that sound familiar! DW went through that with FIL the last two years of his life, the last year in nursing home care. The other siblings didn't even have to fly, the farthest was two hours drive time, the closest about 150 yards. Really. Yards.

But not once could BIL call up FIL and say "We're making a grocery run, do you need anything?" Not once did they take him to a doc appointment, pick up prescriptions, take him to get a haircut, etc. But it was okay for DW to just about wear out a car doing that 40 minute drive over there. In fairness BIL did do a lot of work on the house prepping it for sale but with the day-to-day stuff he was no help at all. His wife was totally useless, didn't want to risk breaking a fingernail, I guess.

We're all on speaking terms but that resentment will always be there. And when we rewrote our wills a few months ago, they are no longer heirs.
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Old 04-17-2015, 03:45 PM   #20
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We all have our opinions and several posters have been critical of me.


What I can say is that if the situation was reversed, I would have shared the financial information willingly with my sister. I was only asking for information, what is wrong with that? If the money did indeed go to support my parents then I'm fine with that- I'd just like to know.


I tried my best to stay in contact with my sister while I was abroad. I would regularly send emails and call her on Skype. Most emails went unanswered, she maintains she never received them. I sent test emails to other people I knew and they all arrived. I later found out that she did not know how to check her junk/ spam box. When I asked her to do so, she informed me that she was fully qualified in using the computer.


What ever.


So to my critics, putting my life on hold for one year and doing all I could to help out was insignificant? I had a good life in Thailand but I relocated half way around the world to help out. I would have stayed longer but nothing I did was satisfactory and she was not hesitant to berate me in public.


I respect myself and I will not be verbally abused.


I returned three times, so my sister could take a vacation and do other things.


Dad was a handful, several times he ran away and I was the one to find him. He left the house and my sister had no idea he had gone. (I lived in my parents home next door)


Dad really needed to be in a supervised nursing home, but I knew my sister would not agree, so I never mentioned it.


All the decisions with respect to my parents were made exclusively by my sister. I was not argumentative and I kept my mouth shut even when I disagreed.


So, to my critics, go for it criticize me all you want.


What goes around comes around and your karma will catch you eventually.
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