My father died 24 years ago and my sisters and I all got inheritances from his estate. My mother dispensed the money directly to my sisters, while, with my portion, she paid off my student loans. She also provided me with the down payment for my first house with this inheritance. My oldest sister declared bankruptcy 20 years ago, and my mother allowed her to rent the family home while my mother bought another house for herself, where she has since lived. My sister raised her children in the family home and remained there long after the bankruptcy was over, and, although she has since bought a vacation home, she continues to live in the family house. She does not pay rent, but she pays the property tax for the house, which is negligible.
Six years ago my husband and I lost our house in a bankruptcy. We moved back near my mother and family and have been renting a house. But it has been a tremendous struggle. I will admit that my mom has helped us financially. I have gone to her when we needed money and she has given me money. I always told her exactly why I needed the money and have always used it as I stated. However, my sister has stated that she feels that I have used up my inheritance from my mom already since she has helped me.
My mom has beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and lives alone. She and I have spoken about getting a house with an in-law unit, which would be mutually beneficial. We both know that my oldest child will never be able to live independently and, eventually, when my mom passes away, we would keep that in mind. Well, my mom suggested that I call our family attorney, which I did. The attorney made a few suggestions to talk over with my mom. However, when I told my sister and mother about the conversation, my sister took me aside and told me that she, and the other sisters, all feel that I am scamming my mom and that they will not allow me to “hoodwink” my mother. She told me that my call to an attorney was “underhanded” and that I have a lot of nerve to talk to my mother about this. I was so stunned that I didn’t respond, with the exception of asking her if she feels that way about my oldest sister who lives in the family home. She said that she used to feel that way until my brother-in-law passed away two years ago. As previously stated, her children are grown and have moved away.
At this point, I am ready to cut off all ties with all siblings except for the sake of my mother. She is 89 years old and I don’t want to have her last few years be stressed with family strain. However, I am seething inside, particularly at the accusation of “hoodwinking” and “scamming” my mom. I did tell my mom that my sisters would not support our getting a house together, and my mom was disappointed because she had really wanted to do this. My mother has also given money to my other sisters, but not as much as she’s given me. I do feel that it is my mother’s money and she does what she wants with it — and that, if that included helping me out, that is between the two of us.
Please let me know your thoughts on this. I am trying to stay low and not get into a battle over this situation, but I would really like your opinion. — Sister Resentment
You and your sisters have a sense of entitlement that is likely at the root of all your family problems. Maybe your financial problems, too. When have any of you had to be financially responsible? You have student loans? Your mom pays them off for you with inheritance from your father! Need a house? No problem! Mom will provide the down payment (with inheritance from your father)! One daughter filed for bankruptcy and lost her home? Here, move into mom’s house and she’ll buy another place for herself! Another daughter also filed for bankruptcy and lost her home? Here’s some money! Just ask whenever you need it and it will be provided!
It must be nice to have a money tree. And yet…you and your sisters sound…kind of miserable. And like you feel as if you STILL haven’t gotten your due worth. Now you’re fighting over your inheritance from your mother? Your mother isn’t dead yet! Her money isn’t anyone’s inheritance; it’s HER money. She can do with it whatever she damn well pleases, including giving it to you whenever you ask because you and your husband struggle to pay your rent and support your family, and including letting your older sister live in a house she owns, rent-free for 20+ years, and including buying a house with you (or FOR you, even, if that’s the case) with an in-law suite (sorry, in-law unit). And your other sisters who resent her (and you) for spending money they mistakenly think they’re entitled to can suck it. Just like you can suck it for getting your panties in a wad over your older sister living rent-free in the “family house” all these years. You have the audacity to resent that after all you’ve been given? And then you blame your sisters for having the same reaction when your mother starts talking about buying YOU a house? (Oh, but it’s different for you because you and your husband struggle while you think your sister who lives rent-free in the house your mother owns doesn’t struggle — even though her husband’s dead — because her kids are grown and presumably she doesn’t support them anymore? That’s kind of funny logic coming from a grown woman who has remained at least partially supported, along with her grown sisters, by her mother throughout her adulthood…).
All of you have screwed-up priorities. And your parents are probably to blame for that in large part. They — and the money they’ve thrown at all of you all these years — are the common denominator here. But you’re all adults now and you have to take responsibility. You have to take responsibility not only for your screwed-up priorities (seemingly valuing money over family, for one thing), but also for the financial messes you’ve made for yourselves despite what seems like a lot of generosity and help extended to you over the years. And part of being an adult who takes responsibility for things is dealing with the repercussions of your decisions.
If you decide to buy a house with your mother (or let her buy the house for you as I’m unclear here about the details of who would be buying it), then you know there will be consequences. Some of the consequences will be beneficial (and mutually so, if you are able to give your mother the emotional and physical support she needs as her illness worsens); some will not. Your sisters, or at least the one sister who is making the most noise, will resent you. She/they will continue to see you as draining their inheritance. They may cause tension when the whole family gets together. They may make your mother feel bad. But…she’s an adult, too. And she can take responsibility for her actions and decisions as well. And it’s ok for you to let her handle your sisters’ anger and resentment. It’s not your job to protect her from all that. If she wants to buy you a house that she can live in, let her. And if your sisters all get their panties in a wad, just like you’ve had yours in a wad over your oldest sister living rent-free in the family home all these years, let ’em. It doesn’t sound like there’s much love lost between you all anyway.
As you said: it’s your mother’s money. She can do what she wants with it. Including giving all her kids an unfortunate sense of entitlement.
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