Before marriage, my father owned a house and a separate five-acre property that he currently rents out, as well as a small business. After he married my stepmother, they bought a second house where they live now. Two years ago, my grandparents passed away, leaving my father a large inheritance. My father used the money to pay off the current house and ensure a comfortable retirement for both of them. Property assets are more than 3 million dollars. Before they got married, my stepmother was unemployed and living on poverty (just adding because I’m not sure about this).
My stepmother really liked my father and we became close. However, my brother and I have been watching her darkly as she complains about the 20-year-old car that my father gave to my brother and gives huge amounts of help to her six children and the widow of the seventh. For their money, my sister-in-law is ill and unable to work.
“I have no doubt that she would do everything in her power to ensure that her children would inherit everything if my father passed before he did.“
My brother, at the time, couldn’t meet his mortgage and medical bills. He has since cut ties with our stepmom, and paid off the truck to reduce stress. My stepmom is a good person, but she is selfish when it comes to her kids and can’t see any parallels for her own kids by gifting the car and paying legal fees, house payments, vacations, and more. I have no doubt that she would do everything in her power to ensure that her children would inherit everything if my father passed before he did.
I sincerely hope that she and my father live well into their 90s. And, if my father passes before he does, I hope to continue our relationship. My brother and I have tried to get them to put together a trust or will without success. It pains me to think of my step-siblings finding our childhood and expansion property on my grandparents’ estate. Four of them live in poverty due to addiction and poor life choices, the other two and the youngest widow, they are decent people who I want to believe will be fair no matter what happens. But I guess they would be mean and selfish.
What right do we have to stop you from taking everything if he passes first? I know that if the situation changes, my father will give it to her children. Hopefully they still collect the will/trust, but if not, what rights do we have?
Stress in Utah
For selfishness, read with dread. For evil, read scary. Read without reason, with fear. For a potential battle over $3 million, with multiple siblings and half-siblings, read horror. When it comes to money and family and inheritance, people always act out of fear. It doesn’t excuse unpleasant behavior, but it does help us to understand it and show compassion to those who work in our estimation.
Old rivalries, past grievances and mistrust all come into play in the battle for the family estate. Sure, $3 million is a lot of money, but one doesn’t stretch it to the point of thinking between nine heirs and one widowed spouse, especially if the surviving spouse decides to give a larger share to his or her child. And as you rightly point out, the outcome can depend on who goes first – your father or your stepmother, especially if there is no will.
A second hand car was a relatively small gift in the grand scheme of things. But you probably already know it’s not on the truck. The truck was the trigger and proxy of the battle. Royal It was an opportunity for your stepmother to see on the horizon, and also to pull a step, test her power over her two stepsons and her husband. When people feel threatened and unsure, they scream. Your brother, unfortunately, took the brunt of that.
As you say, your stepmother was safe when she met your father. I’m glad she survived and got back on her feet despite what she did with her relationship with your father. Prolonged financial deprivation and experiencing homelessness can leave significant psychological scars. As you say, she makes you happy, and that’s all. That’s all parents want for their kids, and all kids want for their parents.
An inheritance was traditionally treated as separate property, and left by your father to his two sons. However, the entire estate that your father invested in the house with your stepmother is mixed. They jointly own the property and all equity in it. According to probate law in Utah, if your father dies without a will – your stepmother inherits the first $75,000 of his estate and the remaining 50%.
If your father and stepmother jointly own the house they live in as tenants with right of survivorship, she will inherit that property. Similarly, other life insurance policies may name her as a beneficiary, and they may also jointly own certain bank accounts. Talking to a parent about inheritance is difficult, but the only way is to be as honest and open as possible. Making a will now will save you any unpleasantness later.
Few parents want to leave the battlefield and many years of ill will behind.
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