Dear Thelma: I'm upset with sister who did things behind my back after mum died


By THELMA

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Dear Thelma,

I lost my mum in early 2021, and my life was turned upside-down. Being married and living overseas, and with the pandemic still prevalent, I couldn't attend her funeral promptly.

Upon returning home after flights resumed, I faced unwelcome reception from one of my siblings. The older one was more understanding, but the younger sibling labelled me as greedy and hurled various insults. This behaviour was shocking, especially considering how close we were when our mum was alive.

My main concern is that this particular sibling is not transparent about our mum's assets. She has taken possession of all her jewellery and other belongings, refusing to share or provide any details.

I later discovered she had given some jewellery to my other sibling, who disclosed it to me. I felt hurt and deceived; I believe I have the right to know what our mum left behind.

While I am not motivated by greed and have moved on with my simple life, learning about this unequal distribution makes me feel sidelined. The bigger assets were divided by the lawyer, but the lack of transparency regarding personal belongings troubles me.I seek advice on how to handle this situation.

Upset


I’m sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose a parent. But to suffer a loss in the pandemic when travel was practically impossible must have been awful as funerals can help us say our goodbyes.

These events took place early 2021 and flights have been available since early 2022. However, this issue is ongoing.

While you have your memories, we all crave a significant item, be it a ring, bangle, or knick-knack to remember our loved ones by.

In healthy relationships, the family come together, itemise everything (a process that typically involves memories, tears, and celebration) and then share. It is not always equal but that’s OK when it’s done with love.

Not only did this not happen, but your sister used the word "greed". Also, you use the word "deceived". Is this about money? Or assets that were of significant value?

In addition, you were taken aback by the anger. Please reflect on what may have led to this. Did you have a quarrel about something else? Like paying for the funeral, perhaps? Or estate taxes?

Also, it rather baffles me that you describe your relationship as close previously but you don’t consider losing it a main concern.

Given this, I think you should consider all the issues at play. If you don’t know, ask your other sibling. Or ask a close relative who knows you all.

This is a practical first step. Should there be unresolved issues, a chat with your younger sibling might fix it.

Should there not be any lingering issues, decide exactly what you want for yourself and from your future relationship with your sister. The two are intertwined, and however you handle this will affect both.

If you only want a simple life, then knowing the details of your mum’s estate would seem to be of little value.

Should you want a keepsake, you might ask your other sister or an aunt to secure it for you.

But if this is about money or bigger legacies, I would try your sister again. If she responds with more anger and refusal, you will need to pull in other parties.

You mention a lawyer, so I would check with her and find the executor. As the executor must draw up an inventory of assets, including personal possessions, and manage all disputes connected to the estate, that is your best starting point.

However, as it was a few years ago, the executor may no longer be around. Also, it may have been your sister.

In that case, I suggest a mediator. Perhaps an older relative you all like. If not that, someone outside of the family you all respect or a professional. Your lawyer can help you there.

But before you do anything further, please consider that some families implode when someone passes away. Quarrels over wills and inheritance can ripple through generations. Also, there is no guarantee of satisfaction or justice.

So think about what you want, consider any consequences, and take action only when you are certain that you can live with the results. Good luck!

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Family conflict , wills , inheritance

   

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