Dividing Estate Causing Family Rift?
Joan Jerkovich - November 13, 2013 10:29 am
When we went to divide my mothers estate, my sister, who wasn’t as close to mom as me and didn’t take care of her in her end days, took some items from the house that were very sentimental to me. She has also pushed her way in to living in her house so that she doesn’t have to clean up her own mess of a house. I feel resentful considering all I did for mom while this sister just swooped in to take what she wanted after she died. How do I deal with this?
Wow. Just pull out the hatchet and start swinging? This hurts; yet, it is not uncommon for families that are already fractured to find themselves in a greater divide once the will has been read and its time to settle the estate. I’m guessing that you have followed the edicts of the will, which is your legal roadmap. Navigating the legal stuff is easy; it’s the emotional part that’s hard.
Your sister is obviously positioning herself to take what she wants and doesn’t seem to be intent on being a team player and dividing things fairly. Yet, her idea of fair and yours may never mesh. This may be past tense, but what you need is a plan that you can all agree on to divide the property. I’ve seen this work well in my own family and here’s how they did it. Before anyone lays claim to anything, you sit down together and decide how you will proceed. This can be fashioned like a game of chance where high card or a flip of the coin get first pick then you get next for smaller items; or some families get very technical and need to put a dollar value on everything so that things can be divided equitably. What you can’t put a dollar number on is the sentimental value of an item that to someone else is worth pennies. Decide on a plan that makes sense to you and your family then stick to it.
Since your sister has already staked her claim, you may have little recourse except to keep pushing for what is fair and what honors your mother’s wishes. Don’t let her bully you in to letting her have something that isn’t hers. Don’t give up on keeping this fair and if you need legal help or professional mediation or even family counseling to get through this it would be money well spent to not fracture your relationship further.
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- Could you and your sister to take a step back, regroup and take a fresh look at how you are going to divide the estate?
- How might you bolster your own assertiveness to where you don’t let her proceed unfairly?
- What value would it have for you to try and get through this process without further damaging your relationship with your sister?
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