My Aunt Hi-jacked Grandma's Estate, help.
January 22, 2009 11:46 AM   Subscribe

My grandmother died recently, and sorting out her estate is a mess, help?

A couple weeks ago my grandmother died, she was 93 years old and from Oregon state.

When my grandfather died, everything was obviously left to my grandma, but my aunt was made estate executor. I know my grandfather had a will, but am unsure whether my grandma made a new one, or if that was even necessary? Anyway, my cousin volunteered to take care of my grandma instead of opting for hospice care. He had been living in my grandma's home for the past 8 years or so and has been receiving a salary for his contribution to her care (totally inappropriate in my opinion).

My aunt's whole role in this is sketchy. I'm afraid they essentially tricked my grandma to agree in giving my cousin a significant amount of money after she passed, which apparently has now come true. Also, I feel like she has been mootching off my grandma while she was living; fairly recently my cousin took an $90k advance in his 'salary' to help my aunt finish her new home that she was building.

I think now my aunt expects to take the whole estate since my dad wasn't as 'involved' in my grandmother's live as she was. In her words, her and my cousin took on the burden of caring for her all these years so they deserve to take everything.

My dad (aunt's brother) wants to avoid conflict at all costs and is likely willing to let her do all this. I personally, could care less about any money or materials as does my dad, but I don't want to let my aunt get away with this and get what she wants. To make things worse, they treated my grandmother very poorly in her last years; they trashed her house by filling it with collectibles and antiques, which they are obsessed with. They are literally compulsive hoarders and used my grandma's house as storage. They belittled her all the time in front of my family and constantly made her feel like a complete burden, it was despicable. I even called social services to have her taken away from them, but my dad vetoed it and told me to let it go.

I know you'll probably tell me to grab a lawyer, but is there anything else I can do?
posted by bettershredder to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I agree with your dad. Let it go.

This is quicksand and you should stop struggling and start looking for a low-hanging vine to pull yourself out.
posted by stubby phillips at 12:01 PM on January 22, 2009

Sorry for your loss, but I think you'd do well to honour your Dad's wishes and stay out of it.

I don't mean to make light of the situation but this quote pops to mind:
When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money.
-Frank McKinney Hubbard
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:04 PM on January 22, 2009

Listen to your dad, and stop asking for legal advice on the internet.
posted by Meagan at 12:08 PM on January 22, 2009

On the bright side, now that your grandmother is gone you won't have much reason to keep in touch with these relatives. If they're as icky as you describe, dropping any interest in the estate seems like a small price to pay. It's possible that this is exactly how your dad is looking at it.
posted by padraigin at 12:13 PM on January 22, 2009

Thanks for the responses, you are all very correct, I need to let it go.

To make matters worse there isn't going to be a funeral, because my aunt doesn't want to have to use her inheritance to pay for it. She's also telling the rest of my family how horrible my dad and my siblings are for not being closer to my grandma.

I need to breathe.
posted by bettershredder at 12:18 PM on January 22, 2009

State law takes over if there is no will - a lawyer could easily throw a wrench into their grab if your Dad wanted to get involved. But I think your Dad has the healthy attitude that his mother's money is hers to do with as she wish, even if the decision is foolish. People do the strangest things - I know of a woman who left the bulk of her property to the child who treated her the worst, and was in no way her favorite. Her other children considered that the cost of getting rid of their sibling.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 12:27 PM on January 22, 2009

When my dad died in another state, with a new wife of a few years. My siblings and I went there and saw my uncle, he said that he had his will and everything was left to us. A couple of days later, step mom comes up with a newer will leaving her everything and us $50 each. We didn't challenge it, but it sure hurt us emotionally, not monetarily.
posted by lee at 12:38 PM on January 22, 2009

If there is a significant potential inheritance involved and you think either of your grandparents would have wanted you or your father to receive, I would absolutely talk to a lawyer. If it is not a significant potential quantity, let it go. Just because you are money-motivated doesn't mean you are in the wrong.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 2:27 PM on January 22, 2009

If relatives know something about the aunt and cousin's actions, interests, and this part--"They belittled her all the time in front of my family and constantly made her feel like a complete burden, it was despicable."--then you can expect that they are going to take the aunt's comments about your family with a large grain of salt. I hope that can give you a little comfort as you are letting go.
posted by PY at 4:00 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Because there is no funeral planned yet, perhaps you and your dad (or whoever else wants to do something in grandma's memory) could do something low/no-cost in remembrance of her. It can be an afternoon volunteering with a group she had some connection to, or just having a small dinner or tea to remember her and stories about her, look through old photos of her, etc. I'm sorry for your loss. My grandma just turned 92 and I don't see her as often as I'd like.
posted by PY at 4:10 PM on January 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry, I would NOT let this go. From my perspective, it's wrong to let the earthly total of someone's life - home, mementos, possessions, and yes money - be distributed in anything but the manner in which they intended. I also have a serious problem with gracefully letting people be rewarded for deceptive, selfish and cruel behaviour.

It is not okay to abuse elderly people or their estates in this way. Consult a probate attorney. If you don't want the money, fine; pay the taxes and donate it to charity. But the entire purpose of probate is to protect the intentions of the deceased and as a member of her family, I think you have an obligation to make sure that's done.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:55 PM on January 22, 2009 [3 favorites]

If your grandmother did not have a will, then your dad should have a share of her estate. As said above, go see a lawyer.
posted by Atreides at 5:59 PM on January 22, 2009

To make matters worse there isn't going to be a funeral

You can hold a wake or memorial service. You donĀ“t need permission from the aunt or cousin to do this, just go ahead and do it.
posted by yohko at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2009

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