My Kids Are Demanding Inheritance From Their Dead Grandma—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek,

My mom passed away 23 years ago. I am an only child and I have three children. When my stepdad passed, mom bought next door to us. I took her everywhere, and my husband and I took her on every vacation with us. Our children did help Mom somewhat, but soon were out of our home, in college, and/or working.

For the last year of Mom's life, she needed to be in a nursing home and because I had to retire early on 100% disability. I was able to spend every day and some nights with my mom at the nursing home. My children did come to visit their grandmother, but not as much as they could have, or should have, considering how good my mother had been to my kids.

My mom was very upset that they didn't come more often. They did send an occasional card and I think flowers once or twice. After a few months in the nursing home, my mom asked to see her attorney. I offered to go read in the lobby, but Mom said she wanted me to stay and hear what she was telling the attorney. She wanted to change her will and take my three children out of the will. I told her this was not necessary, but she was adamant because she said I was the one doing all of the work of making sure she was well taken care of.

Kids Angry They Were Removed From Will
A close-up stock photo of a Last Will and Testament document. Although the sons were removed from the will, they still received $41,000 from their grandmother's business, plus an additional $5,000 each from her checking account. roberthyrons/iStock/Getty Images Plus

My mom lived until the beginning of the next year. As soon as my middle son found out mom had passed, he called the attorney and asked for a copy of the will. The attorney told my son that he could NOT give him a copy of the will because he was not named in the will. My son then called my home, leaving a message on the answering machine. My husband heard it when he got home before me, and erased the message so I wouldn't hear how awful it was.

It has now been 23 years, and they are still demanding that I give them the money that they think they are owed.

My husband passed away 7 years ago, my boys have done little to help me, but my daughter and stepdaughter have been wonderful.

By the way, Mom had an LLC, so when she passed each of my children received $41,000 from that, and there was $15,000 in Mom's checking account with my name on it, so I gave each of my children $5,000 from that.

Do you have any advice for me? I am just sick of this situation and tired of being yelled at and sworn at.

Velma, Unknown

'Your Mother Had Every Right To Change Her Will'

Peace Anumah is a marriage and family Psychotherapist, who has her own company called Piece Into Peace.

Velma, I am sorry to hear you have been through such a difficult time. It must have been hard for you to take care of your mother alone, in doing your best to support her before she died. You were all she had after your stepfather passed away, and it sounds like you did a fantastic job looking after her.

It is sad to read that your children did not support you enough and haven't supported you since your husband passed away. Your mother was equally hurt by the limited amount of contact made by her grandchildren, hence why she changed her will.

Twenty-three years is a very long time to deal with the fall out of your mother changing her will, and several questions arise as I reflect on your letter. For example, what has been done since your mother passed away to bring about reconciliation with your children? What would make your sons think you coerced your mother into changing her will?

To start the reconciliation process, it is necessary to understand the source of your sons' feelings to enable you to process, understand and respond to them effectively. However, your mother had every right to change her will and decide how to share her assets. You did nothing wrong.

To reconcile with your sons, it may be worth calling a family meeting. You can seek the support of a family therapist to help you.

'Try And Not Let This Tarnish The Whole Relationship With Your Children'

Moa Lundstrom is an Existential Psychotherapist and Clinical Director of The London Practice.

Velma, I am very sorry to hear about the situation with your boys. Money has a way of complicating relationships, but it's truly sad when they come in between people or outright breaks a relationship.

What are hoping to happen? Is the aim to reconcile your relationship with your boys? Or is it to be on the same page about what happened, or should have happened, with the will? It seems unlikely that you will see eye to eye about the past, but what you can do is try to repair the relationship by really listening to what their experience of the situation was, and still is.

You seem to have given your mother so very much, and you say they could or should have done more. Is this just a matter of fact, or are you disappointed with them? What are your own feelings about them not doing enough for your mother? You say they haven't helped you much after your surgeries, what are your feelings around this? What was your relationship like before the death of your mother?

The fact that there is still yelling after all this time shows there are clearly a lot of feelings involved. Is there a way that you can explore the situation without blame or defensiveness? It is tricky, but really trying to understand another person's perspective can go a long way. You say you don't understand why they think they are owed money from your parents. Maybe start there. If you can't resolve the issue around the will, try to compartmentalize and focus on what's still there.


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