Trying to avoid the farce after the tragedy.
September 28, 2010 10:13 PM Subscribe
As the trustee for my parents' estate, what responsibility do I bear if I have ethical questions about how they treat my siblings in their will?
posted by sapere aude to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My parents recently changed their will to almost completely leave out two of my four siblings. The reasoning is that their relationships with those two have been strained over several years, and they want to show their appreciation to their other kids. (It is important to note that all grandkids are treated equally, this only affects the kids' generation.)
I understand the "it's their money, they can do what they want" argument, but my parents are reluctant to tell the affected kids about this change, and I'm uncomfortable possessing this knowledge alone, knowing after my parents are gone my siblings will learn I knew of it all along. That feels like a betrayal. On the other hand, I've been doing what I can to reconcile those siblings and my parents, and if anyone tells my sibs they've essentially been disinherited, it would make the problem that much harder.
The irony of the situation is this: less than five years ago my dad's mother died, and her will (which had been kept secret) had several surprises in it. It was my dad's sister who served as trustee then, and she took holy hell for offering the "just doing what mom wanted" excuse for (among other things) essentially disowning two of my dad's siblings. Result of that is now none of them talk to each other. After that ordeal, my parents talked long and hard about the value of transparency, and how it would be simple for us, everything divided equally among the kids and grandkids, and above all, there would be no surprises.
I'm concerned that history is repeating itself and my parents are somehow in denial about their role. I feel like my only option is to step down as trustee unless they are open with all my siblings about the terms of the will. That doesn't make me feel great, but otherwise I feel like I am profiting from my siblings' lack of knowledge, and eventually transferring my parents' conflict with them onto myself. I want to do right by my family here. Have any of you dealt with similar dynamics in your family, and how did you deal with them? YANML, of course.