How to deal with being cut off from inheritance?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
Cookie415 asked...

I have 2 older brothers (both 8 to 10 years older) and I am their only sister. Many years ago, my mom took about $400k from my unwilling father and bought an apartment under my 2 brothers names. 2 years ago the apartment sold for more than a million and the 2 brothers quietly share among themselves and my mom said nothing because she thinks inheritance should go to sons. One of my brothers paid off his mortgage but can still afford to send his 2 sons to childcare even though he and his wife are not working. I feel this is very unfair because it is as if I don't even exist. When I was single, I worked, gave most of my money to my mother and she used the money to help support my brother's college education. I feel that I am treated very unfairly as a daughter and sister while my brother can actually afford early retirement. He will not speak to me because he is afraid I will want to be included in the share. Money is really the root of all evils. Daughters are viewed as there only to contribute money and help the sons whereas sons get to keep everything. I asked my mom for explanations but she had none. I'm very conflicted because I feel anger and resentment towards her but she is my mother. I never resented my father even though he did not leave me any money because he also left none for my 2 brothers.


Expert Answers

Brenda Avadian, brings knowledge, hope, and joy to family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer's and dementia. She cared for her father with Alzheimer's and helps families one-on-one and in groups. She is the author of eight books, including the pioneering memoir "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's and the Finding the JOY in Alzheimer's series. She presents vivid, compelling, and funny keynotes to both professional and family caregiving audiences.

How to deal with being cut off from inheritance is one of the difficult questions because the answers are not easy.

A situation, like yours, is woefully unfair.

Your description of how you helped your mother and even helped pay for your older brother's college education only to see them pocket a $1,000,000 windfall, which you should be able to share with them is so often the case among families.

Why?

There are more reasons than families.

One reason could be due to your family's ethnicity.

In my Armenian family, my mother felt closest to my brother and tried to get funds from my father to share with my brother. When I became the conservator of my father's affairs after my older brother and sister didn't help, I was able to right as many wrongs as legally possible. The details of how I handled this are told in "Where's my shoes?" My Father's Walk through Alzheimer's[thecaregiversvoice.com].

Your mother may have the mistaken notion that if she leaves everything to the men in the family they will take care of her and you. Talk about this with your closest relatives in order to gain some understanding since your mother is not talking.

Another reason is inferred from your parents' current relationship and the timing of your birth.

I assume they were divorced or separated and your father has since passed? Your mother might feel closer to her first two children born only two years apart and distant for whatever reason to you her third and last child born eight years later.

These comments may not make sense to many, yet some ethnic groups follow this cultural practice where the men will take care of everything and the family.

Yet, I can't see any legal way for you to get a share of those funds.

Too much time has passed. I can only assume you were relying on the good graces of your brothers to share the proceeds of the sale of the apartment. After your mother bought the apartment in their names, you were out of the deal. Despite what I have written here, I do recommend that you ask an estate attorney just to be sure. There may be laws in your state that give you some recourse.

Your situation offers a strong argument for establishing our estate plans now. It also emphasizes how we must speak up as soon as we see something that is not right.