Families just don't change, do they?

For anyone who is bereaved or no longer providing care.
Mum's funeral was yesterday afternoon, and it was genuinely lovely. We had a humanist service at the local crem for her, as she'd specified, and I believe we did her proud.

We have always had a weird family dynamic. I'm the third out of four kids. Number one, the only son, died suddenly 10 years ago. leaving a fiancee, one child of his own and two "step" kids. Number 2 lives in Canada and has, out of choice, limited her exposure to me and Number 4 for over 20 years. Her main contact was our mother, who she spoke to for about 3 or 4 hours every single Sunday. As younger siblings, we have both always found 2 to be bossy, condescending, belittling and aggressive, always spoiling for a fight and yet, to our mother, she was the "golden child".

2 was called over to the UK when it became apparent that Mum was not going to make it. She's been living in Mum's bungalow, and has basically made it a "no go" area for the rest of us whilst she's been here for almost three weeks, although 4 has told her to get stuffed and stayed over quite a bit as we don't have a spare room. 2 and 4 are executors, so that line of communication has HAD to stay open, although it has not been pleasant for 4 at all.

Me.....she's blocked. Entirely. It's as if I don't exist. Even though I live half a mile from Mum. Even though I was Mum's carer. It's as if I'm a stranger (which I am...she doesn't know me at all) and am just kind of there, like a tea towel or bowl of fruit. I'm not given any information on meetings, arrangements and I don't even know exactly when she will go home, so I can go and check the house and post etc. I'm being blanked.

Instead, she's practically attached to Number 1's fiancee and her kids like a limpet. She's barely left them alone since she arrived, and has decided that fiancee (who we all adore) should be added to Mum's will (instead of a third share, we'll all now get a quarter and 1's gal will get exactly the same as I get). I'm more than a bit cheesed off about this, not that 1's gal wasn't important to Mum, but because 1's gal already had a hefty death in service pay out from his employers when 1 died. 1 owed Mum quite a bit of money, and that wasn't repaid from this money. Instead it was put into trust for the child. I guess I feel that 1's gal isn't entitled to a share of our parent's estate. Those things are from OUR childhood, not hers. Why should she inherit a family ring? Or my Granny's wedding china? Nobody else is arguing though, so I think I'll have to live with it and somehow get rid of the resentment before I poison myself.....

2 goes back to Canada very very soon, but is still an executor and is apparently planning on returning a few times to "sort things out", even though 4 is perfectly capable of handling it all herself.

I guess I'm trying to muddle through in my head why 2 is so massively bolshy and aggressive to her blood relatives. We're ALL grieving. We've ALL lost our Mum. She's doing absolutely everything she can to separate us from her as a family. After this, I seriously doubt me or 4 will want anything to do with her ever again. It seems to me that she's clinging to 1's gal because she knows this, but it's HER behaviour that's causing it.....I gave up trying to talk to her weeks ago, as any attempt was met with a verbal slap, a snap or a patronising put down. It's the conversational equivalent of waltzing with a porcupine, and I had more than enough to worry about without that, so I stopped trying.

1's gal, by the way, is being very diplomatic, but she looks pretty creeped out by the intensity of 2's adoration of her.

All in all, it's not been a happy year so far.
Hi Lois
Oh dear, whatever your elder sister's problem is I would just ride it out until she goes home and then forget her. Hang on to the other as this one isn't worth your energy.
When my dad died in 2004, his will left everything to my Mum and a bit to me. That was fine by me but she felt that one or two other people should have been included and therefore we did a 'variation'. Now the important message to you is that the executors CANNOT change the will (variation) without the consent of ALL the beneficiaries. In my case Mum and I signed the appropriate legal forms to include the extra people. BUT if you are a beneficiary you can refuse any 'variation' you do not agree with and it cannot happen. DO NOT be coerced or bullied into giving up what your Mum wanted you to have just because your sister has other ideas. Even if the rest of the family cow tow to her. She will be out of your life soon enough and IF you and the others agree to give some cash to whoever, then it is a gift not a legacy.
You might think that if the eldest son was still alive, he would get a quarter of the inheritance and therefore it should go to his child. Or maybe some to the mother of his child and some to the child. Whatever. However I would argue that the fiancée and the child between them shouldn't receive any more than your brother would have, had he been alive. That is up to you and number 4 to decide and present to your elder sister as your decision. The executors have to ensure that the wishes are carried out. It is not up to them to change things unless ALL agree. There will be a cost for a solicitor to draw up a will variation. It will take time too. You might want to suggest that the new variation provides a 'Trust' for the child so that they receive it aged 21/or older/ on marriage/to deposit on their first home/ or whatever.
When sister leaves you will be free to visit Mum's home and so on. However as executor, she does have responsibilities and powers. As 'just' Mum's carer, you have none. BUT hopefully your younger sibling will stand yp to older Sis and stick up for you. Your older sibling cannot act alone but has to have the other executor's agreement. Why weren't you named as executor anyway if you were providing the care?
Have you ensured that any expenses you incurred as Mum's carer have already been reimbursed by Mum or have been presented to the executors as costs to the estate? I hope you kept every bill or invoice?
Please do not be pressured into anything.
just be grateful ghastly No. 2 sis lives three thousand miles away!

Golden Children pay a price that is often unseen, in that they too have been 'badly parented' - truly 'spoilt' in the old fashioned sense of the word. So not surprising she's not normal at all. Can't be helped, far too late, etc etc.

HOWEVER, it may come as an unwelcome shock to your ghastly sister but being an executor means you execute what was in the will, NOT what you would have liked to have been in it!


I would IMMEDIATLEY alert the solicitor, who will have a legal duty to see the estate is divided EXACTLY as your mum's will dictates. Anything else is criminal.

Phone the solicitor tomorrow, and better still, go and see a completely new one, to act on YOUR behalf, and take issue over what your sister is doing.

IT is NOT her money or possessions to dispose of as she decides. Your mum made her will, it is a legal document, it is legally binding. What your sister is doing is criminal, and theft.

(If she wants to give the fiancé anything from HER OWN one third share, so be it. To take ANYTHING from your one third share or your other sister's is THEFT.)
I was actually named as an executor of Mum's will. I was starting to have real anxiety about it, for various reasons (I had to look after brother's stuff, and take legal guardianship of Dad when brother died and the power of attorney died with him) and the whole "forms, legal stuff etc" was really traumatising me. I asked 4 if she'd take over on my behalf. I'm genuinely not equipped mentally to deal with this stuff - I sew for a living, whilst 4 is a very scary vat inspector who deals with businesses with turnovers of £20million plus. She's not remotely daunted by the legalities, so she would have been by far the better choice anyway. I've no idea what Mum was thinking of, getting me to do it. I asked her to reconsider multiple times, explaining why I wouldn't be able to do it, but she refused. I didn't realise for a couple of weeks that I could refuse to take it on.

I will admit fully that one of the main stresses would be negotiating with 2. She's non-negotiable. She just will not negotiate, although she's full of "rules" for the rest of us to follow. For example, we're not to remove things from the house until she's next back. She wants a say in everything and doesn't want us having any of Mum and Dad's personal possessions without us ALL having a chance to ask for it.

What she doesn't know is that WE know she's gone off with Mum's wedding ring. The undertaker told 4 that 2 had collected it from him. It's not been seen, or spoken about, since. So much for her lectures on "transparency". We have to have our selections approved, but she doesn't? That feels like theft to me....

I think, on reflection, that handing a quarter of the entire estate over to 1's gal will be less stressful than fighting over it, and leave me with at least a chance of maintaining a relationship with her (she's lovely, truly).

Number 2 will eventually stop visiting when the house here is sold and the funds distributed, and then that'll be it...she'll be out of my life for good.

I knew we'd end up like this. We've nothing in common apart from sharing our parents, after all. So much damage was done when she behaved appallingly over our wedding 20 years ago and since then, it's simply been a case of Mum desperately papering over the cracks. Those cracks are now wide open caverns and crevasses......just the place to lose a sister you don't want.

Thanks, everyone, for letting me rant.

I think you need to consult a solicitor. Firstly, you are entitled to a copy of the will. Get it, read it, and make absolutely certain everyone follows mum's wishes, to the letter.
If I remember rightly, after someone dies, when there is more than one beneficiary, NOTHING should be removed from the house until the house and contents have been valued.
If mum says she wants everything split 4 ways, that's what should happen. If someone has died, then normally the money goes to a descendant - NOT his former fiancée. If his child is a minor it should be put in a trust or similar until adulthood, and all executors and a solicitor should sort this out formally.
Have all bank accounts etc. been frozen? If not, make sure this is done straight away, all you need is an original copy of the death certificate, i.e. one done by the registrar. If you don't have one, ask the registrar for one, it will only cost a few pounds.
It's rather silly asking not be involved and then complain about what the others are doing. You need to protect your own interests.
If 4 is a VAT inspector and clued up financially and legally, she should know that executors cannot change the will to alter who gets what.

2 is clearly a head-case I'm afraid! (I wonder if she was like your mum herself? Parents often chose the child most like them to be the Golden Child!)(hmm, can't think why!)

You say headcase 2 is 'non-negotiable' but, again, if 4 is clued up and savvy and can audit £20m businesses she should not be someone who can be 'non-negotiated' with if she puts her foot down!

4 should also confront 2 directly over the issue of the wedding ring.

Irrespective of what may be the rights and wrongs of taking anything 'now' before probate is granted, I'm afraid that if I were you, I would go to your mum's house now, (I take it 2 has gone for the moment so you can get access without her kicking off)(don't tell her!), and simply take several of the most precious and small things that you understand are likely to be yours anyway, and take them away to your house. If you wanted, you could put them in a safety deposit box at your bank. I did this with my mum's jewellery, partly to keep it safe, and partly as a kind of 'bargaining chip' (long story!)....25 years later it's still in the bank! (The next generation can sort it out, my bro and I have agreed!).

If you take them to your house, keep them together, in a big envelop or box, clearly labelled 'Some of Mum's things - to be divided by mutual agreement according to mum's will, when probate is granted'. That will make it clear you just don't want headcase 2 going off with them!!!!(Or giving them to fiancé 1)

It's all just horrible right now, but it will all settle down in the end. You know, head case 2 will be back in Canada, and she can't be a very happy person, can she? You won't have to see anything of her again, and that's just as well.

All the very best to you at a painful time, Jenny
From what I've picked up, the "estate" they're talking about splitting is pretty much just the house. The lawyer said the only other thing that would be considered was the bank accounts - the sum of both is less than £14k last time I looked for her.

Mum and Dad didn't have any particularly valuable personal possessions - the only value is sentimental, really. Number 2 was given free rein in Mum's jewellery box a few years ago, and I had Mum's engagement ring to give to 4, as that was Mum's wish. The rest of us already have a family ring, but 4 had to wait until Mum was gone for hers. I was given it for safekeeping a wee while ago, and 4 now has it.

This is a house full of knitting patterns, yarns, paperback novels and an odd mish mash of furniture. There's a few nice-ish pieces of Ercol from the 50's, which we know has a small value attached. Pretty much everything else is Ikea, as they downsized 12 years ago and the big victorian furniture wouldn't fit in the bungalow, so was sold then.

I guess it IS silly to complain after I've walked away from having power, but I would have been totally walked over by No 2, and she knew it. No 4 will do a much better job, and has already curbed 2's tendencies to suit herself (no, the estate is not paying for your flights back and forth to Canada, you don't NEED to be here, I can sign forms for us both, or it can be done electronically).
No.4 sounds the sort of person to have on your side.
My mum and dad had probably the largest private collection of Ercol in the country. I first looked on ebay to see what the going rate was, and used that as a guide to my prices.
I sold it all through Gumtree, rather than ebay, so I could set my prices. People came from the far side of London to mum's house near Bournemouth to get some of it.
Well, I've accepted that what will be, will be. Had a long chat with two of my oldest friends yesterday evening and they helped me some to terms with the fact that the fastest way to get this sorted out and No 2 out of my life with the least amount of aggro is to accept it. Money wise, the amount I'll "lose" is significant enough to make a massive difference to our lives, but would fighting over it be worth the hostility and stress? No, I don't think it would be. I'm prepared to pay to remove the canker.

Bowlingbun, I have to give credit where credit is due....No 4 has absolutely come into her own. I'm in awe of her - she is an immovable force of nature with a steely will. She was as useful as a chocolate fireguard when Mum was alive, but now, she's more than making up for it, in my opinion. Without her, No 2 would be running amok.

Mum and Dad's Ercol is pretty old and very well used now, but there's a wee dining table and 4 chairs, plus a strange small table with an inwardly curved edge (I'm picturing it fitting round a pregnant belly lol) and a nest of three legged side tables. I reckon those will be snapped up. I'm rather attached to the stuff myself but we don't need any more furniture and I really like the idea of it going to a new home where it will be used and loved.
What does 4 think about the 'roll over and let 2 re-write your mother's will'? I can't believe she'd give in like that, given how you've described her.

PLEASE don't be so out of pocket just to get 2 off your back!

4 will need your help to stamp down on 2 trying (illegally!) to re-write your mum's will, so please do promise her your support.

As for 4 being great now and a choc teapot before, I suspect that 4 is not a 'people person' and now thrives on the paperwork etc, but couldn't hack 'personal caring' with your mum, which you were LOADS better at (but perhaps revealingly you don't enjoy the paperwork).

Each of us has their own strengths. I find 'companion caring' irksome, and would far rather be cleaning the house, doing the laundry, ironing, etc, than 'chatting nicely' to someone else whose company I find a bit tedious.

As a new mum, I enjoyed doing the baby laundry more than I did spending time with my baby..... (that changed when he turned into a toddler, and I could become his teacher!)