Rift With Brother Over Family Farm Inheritance?
Joan Jerkovich - November 27, 2015 12:18 pm
My parents both passed away in 2011. They left the transition of our farm in a mess with it mostly all going to my brother. There is another sister who lives in California and is naive to daily farm life. Now, my brother is calling her, triangulating-if you will, with his list of demands, such as not wanting to pay rent on the land, adding unjustified expenses. Mostly being a spoiled brat.
He’s also using sis as an avenue to insult me and surprisingly she seems happy to relay his comments. Sis isn’t stupid. She’s been a nurse for years so her participation in this surprises me.
It’s all headed to a lawyer again and the rift deepens. I know it’s impossible to rectify what years of family influence created. Brother is the youngest and Mom considered him her greatest life achievement!
I’m lost as to how to cope. I can’t change either my brother or sister and my brother doesn’t talk to me except through sis, and she’s accepting of his manipulation. Things always work out-eventually-but it can sure take a toll on a person.
You have two issues at play here. First, there is the legal business of running a company with “partners”, your brother and sister, with your brother being the one you don’t trust to run the farming business fairly.
Second, you have a distressing family relationship wherein you and your brother don’t even talk to each other. All, with your sister in the middle.
While I’m sorry to hear you’re “headed to a lawyer again”, this may be your best resource for helping the three of you separate the business from the personal in the management of your family farm. A lawyer can help the three of you adhere to the wishes of your parents, and can help you set up business systems, or contracts, for fair management practices. The lawyer can act as a mediator between the three of you until you come to an agreement on how the farming business should be run.
In addition, the attorney can spell out all your options. It might be worth the money to hire a farm management company to monitor the farming business practices. You might also be pointed to the option of selling out your share of the farm to your two siblings. Whatever you decide to do, keep working toward formulating business practices that fairly carry out your parents’ wishes.
However possible, separate your personal feelings from the business. This is easier said than done, as any family who’s been through what you’re living will tell you.
Maybe you feel you were treated unfairly as your brother received a larger percentage of ownership from the estate. It sounds as if you’ve been living under the shadow of your mother’s “greatest life achievement” ever since your brother was born. Some of this has a basis in history.
Historically, sons have been favored over daughters, especially where it pertains to inheriting property. Just watch the PBS television series “Downton Abbey”, set in the year 1912, to see this. Times have changed for most families, but there are still some families who do as your parents have done, and leave the bulk of property to a son.
Then there’s your sister, who’s caught in the middle. It seems to me that you need to have a good long talk with your sister. Point out how you’d like the family farm to be run fairly as a business; wherein your brother’s not paying rent and adding expenses is not acceptable.
Tell her that when she relays your brother’s insults, it’s hurtful to you. Tell her that you’d appreciate it if she’d either keep those to herself, or, better yet, tell your brother she doesn’t like him saying insulting things about you, her sister.
Work to foster better communication and a better relationship with your sister. This will not only help to diminish your brothers manipulation of her, but will hopefully help all three of you get along better.
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• When have you had to accept “what is”, and people for “who they are” in another difficult life situation?
• What methods for coping worked for you then?
• What other things can you do to work this out?
• Have you explored all options for cooperatively managing the family farm, and repairing your sibling relationships?
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