Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mom or Dad Loved You Best & Other Family Dynamics

A chapter in the book that I am currently finishing writing deals with the emotions surrounding inheritance struggles, and other dysfunctional family dynamics that affect more of the population than you can imagine. As the economy has become more challenging, and the "boomer" generation has aged. I have had a steady stream of clients into my office who are questioning their parent's love for them based on what is left materially for them after a parent passes on.

In families of two children or more, there often is at least one child who has taken it upon himself to either become a drug addict, thief, or someone who just doesn't ever seem to "grow up" and take on responsibility. I know that sounds drastic and harsh, but it is true. The other child/children in the family end up taking care of the aging parent until their death and then the squabbling begins. At the root of all of this controversy is "who mom/dad loved best." This is often determined by how money was given in times of struggle while the parent was alive, and how the final division was executed after the parent's demise.
EXAMPLES:
I have seen wills that have been changed to exclude siblings an hour before the person died. I have heard about houses that have been emptied and the contents sold before the probate court has had the opportunity to disperse and execute the signed WILL. (Against the law....by the way) Step-parents who have excluded biological children because they did not "welcome" them when they started dating the now deceased bio-mom/dad. Parents who intentionally excluded children from their wills who did not do "exactly what they were told to do" for a career, or who married someone of a different nationality or faith than the parent wanted. I have seen a sibling leverage other siblings and have them sign over property, worth at least a million dollars, by threatening to "not take care of their mother." By the way, this person was the only one with the financial means to take care of mom. No surprise that she got away with it.

YES, this does go on in your town every day!

If you or your siblings are in an unhealthy family dynamic, I would urge you to really think through how you want to handle yourself during these times of stress. You will not change your parents, and you will not change your siblings. You can, however, absent yourself from this ridiculousness and chalk it up to greed, sloth, and envy. Remember, money and notoriety makes people crazy. Nobody earns an inheritance! Money does not equal love. It may signal "control issues," but it is not love.
My advice based on the years of watching these family dynamics play out is to "walk away" emotionally, protect yourself legally, and pray that in your "heart of hearts" that you will have conducted yourself in a manner that is without regret. I will leave you with this quote below to ponder on this subject. ~ Blessings, Karen

“People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It's too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies.” 
― Haruki MurakamiDance Dance Dance

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