When someone close to you passes away, it’s not an easy time. Especially if it’s a parent. Imagine how would it feel to bear that burden, then subsequently find out that a sibling of yours was left out of the will!
This doesn’t apply to anybody specific I know, but it was a question asked on CNN Money, with some reader answers subsequently published in the print copy of Money. The answers that were given were interesting to read, and got me thinking about the situation further, as well as past related posts such as diving an inheritance with a sibling, and giving unequally to kids based on your will.
Here are what the some respsonses were (paraphrased), along with my comments:
- If the sibling is treated unfairly, it could seriously your relatioship, so get your parent to change his or her mind about the will. Well, I agree on the part that the relationship might be harmed if the sibling is treated unfairly. In that case, if you know that you’ll get more undeservedly, I think that it seems like the right thing to do to address it. That said, it’s the parent’s final say. Of course, you could later make arrangements to rectify the situation after the fact.
- Stay out of it, meddling could make things worse. That might be true in some cases. I suppose it depends on the family dynamics involved. Still, if you feel strongly, it might not be bad in some cases to speak up respectfully to the parent as mentioned above.
- It depends why they did that. Maybe a lump sum would do more harm, so you may want to trust your parents. Ultimately, it’s their choice, and the whole idea of people jockeying for position for an inheritance seems so uncouth to me. Of course, trying to be fair to a sibling is honorable too. Maybe if the sibling has problems, the parent has good reasons.
- You can give some of your inheritance to your siblings. Yes, you certainly can. It might not repair hurt feelings of the siblings toward the other parent, but that’s not something you could control anyway.
- It’s not up to you, as nobody has the right to receive anything. That’s very true that people don’t have the right to expect anything. It’s another person’s money, and they can do what they choose with it. That being said, if you know that they will in fact be giving money to their kids, I think it’s natural to have some kind of reaction about how things are allocated. We’re only human after all.
- Be thankful and don’t do what the sibling did to be left out. Have to agree with that!
Overall, I do think that it’s not automatically unfair to give one person more than another, or leave a person out. In many cases, sure it could be incredibly hurtful and showing cruel favoritism. However, it other cases there might be a legitimate reason. This might include a kid being simply a bad kid who was cruel to the parent, or perhaps the sibling is incredibly successful anyway and needs far less help than a strugling sibling who had some hard luck in life.
Thus, as a sibling who sees that another sibling was left out, I think it’s a good idea to take the time to really understand why parents made the decisions they did. If you don’t feel comfortable addressing the situation, and don’t agree then you could always rectify the situation later anyway by giving money to the other sibling.
What Do You Think?
What do you think of notion of one sibling being left out of a will? Is it always cruel, or it is sometime understandable depending on the situation?
How would you handle the situation if you found out a sibling got left out? Conversely, how would you react if you were left out?
Note: I ask these questions with the belief that we should not be maneuvering for inheritances, are not entitled, and that this is a touchy/unpleasant topic for some.