General Question

pallen123's avatar

My grandfather died. How should I feel about this?

Asked by pallen123 (1507 points ) October 22nd, 2010

My grandfather died recently at 96 yrs. He was stepfather to my father and he had two living step-daughters (my father’s sisters). He was a very personal man and mostly kept to himself. His wife, my father’s biological mother, died about 5 yrs. ago. My father, died about 20 yrs. ago at 56 yrs. of age. My father had a good relationship with his mother, stepfather, and sisters. They were all fairly close. After my father died, my sister and I kept in touch with our aunts (my father’s sisters) and also my grandmother (until she died five years ago) and my grandfather. After my grandmother died, my grandfather became even more private, but used one of my aunts as a conduit for relating with the broader family. We would have dinner with him occasionally and have him to our home on holidays. Upon his death we (my sister and I) and the two aunts, met with his attorney to review his Will and Living Trust. The attorney instructed us to turn to the last page of the Trust and see the most recent changes to the allocations. There it showed my two aunts are to receive roughly 32% each of his estate, the remaining 32% went to a wealthy nephew, and 2.5% goes to my mother (my grandfather’s daughter in law—and my father’s wife). My mother has always had a fine relationship with my father’s parents. They weren’t especially close but the relationship was friendly. My sister and I weren’t expecting to receive anything but we were a little stunned to see our mother received so so little. We don’t know exactly how much money is in the estate because there is a small (but very profitable) business to sell, but my estimate is it is quite a large sum of money. As may father’s only son, I feel terrible. I feel like not only did I lose my father at a young age, but his sisters and stepfather just discarded him and his relatives—my mother, my own family and my young children, and my sister’s family and children. None of us are well off. We’re not poor but we struggle like most people. The money aside, I just feel lousy. It feels like such an affront to the memory of my father, who was such a kind and good man. As his son, I feel I should say something. What do you think?

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37 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

He was who he was and you are who you are….people come and people go….Life is short and sweet for some and long and bitter for others….how do you feel about all this??? Many years from now, luckily, you will be his age and given what you know about life as it is….how will you feel? Therein lies your answer.

pallen123's avatar

@Cruiser I feel terrible about all this. I feel like my father and my mother and my young children were kicked to the curb. I don’t want to feel this way, and I don’t want to confront my aunt’s, but I do wonder how they sleep…

GingerMinx's avatar

I wonder why you are focused on his money when the man just died.

pallen123's avatar

@GingerMinx Because we just met w/the attorney to review his Trust and it contained information that through my grief I find offensive? Also, I feel my aunt’s tried to shield others from maintaining a close relationship with him.

lillycoyote's avatar

No, it doesn’t seem fair. These issues of inheritance can cause a lot of bitterness and animosity in the survivors, but what’s done is done and you can either get all worked up about it or let it go, seems like your only choice. How does your mom feel about it?

pallen123's avatar

@lillycoyote My mom and my sister are peacemakers and very generous and loving people. My mother just feels appreciative to have been recognized at all. My sister thinks it’s shady but doesn’t want to jeopardize the relationship with our aunt’s to bring it up with them. I on the other hand, feeling somewhat like my father’s proxy, and outraged. Trying to take that down a notch.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Say nothing. Speaking up at this point can serve no useful purpose. Be the bigger person and keep your feelings to yourself.

YARNLADY's avatar

Feelings are very difficult to pin down. It is entirely possible to be sad and mad at the same time. One theory is that there are several stages of grief, which might be why you are feeling conflicted at this time.

You can try to get in touch with your own experience and go with that.

GingerMinx's avatar

@pallen123 , His will is his business. Who he chose to leave his money to is his business. You said you saw him and had dinner with him, and you said he with drew, perhaps it was his decission not the aunts. My father died several years ago and left nothign to any of his seven children, most went to his second wife and some to her adopted son. That was his business. My mother recently died and left all her money to animal protection agencies, that was her business. I in no way lived my life expecting any kind of monetary reward when they died. You will experience what ever you experience, but blaming the aunts is hardly going to make things any better for you.

pallen123's avatar

@GingerMinx I see your points and I appreciate your perspective. Usually I’m able to rationalize not acting on my emotions or impulses. This time will probably be no different. But a part of me is just disgusted and sad and I think it will be hard to put on a happy face and be pleasant with my aunts.

anartist's avatar

This is so sad and at the same time so tiresome. You feel what you feel. Live with it. If it is the money that concerns you, do what you gotta do. If it is reparation for rejection of your dad, forget it. That became moot when your grandfather died. Live with that too.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It’s funny the kind of changes that come about in people when a “loved” one dies. My father just went through years of court battles because of what was left to him in his own mother’s will. My dad’s stepbrother was less than happy with the will, because he felt that the money that my step-grandpa strictly left to my grandma should go back to him.

The entire process was grueling and disgusting. Private investigators were even brought into the mix, and it was just…. Stupid. My dad’s stepbrother, over and over, was denied by judges and jurors. He tried to have my dad’s car taken, tried to have his house taken, and even – after being ruled against for the fourth time – tried to take my dad to Supreme court, where he was basically laughed out of court for the suggestion.

I’m not suggesting that anything of the nature will happen in your situation, should you choose to bring it up with your aunts. But, most likely, it will go nowhere if you do. Some people just don’t care, and it’s probably not worth it. If you feel that you really have a right to say something, bring it up. Because either way right now, it sounds like your relationships with your aunts are going to be affected no matter what.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Although I can understand how it might be upsetting news to hear, especially when it inevitably follows news that is already bad.. I don’t think it would do you (or anyone else) any good to say something now.
Last wishes are last wishes, unfortunately they aren’t always what we expect or what we’d hope for. Sadly it is a common story and can sometimes make the loss feel even greater, as though you’ve been overlooked by someone you cared for.
Sorry for your loss.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It is understandable how you feel, and trust me that others have felt the same way. What isn’t fair is to feel frustration towards the living relatives on how the funds were distributed. It sounds as if there was no motive described left behind, at least not to you.

pallen123's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Right, there was no motive described. I think it was just assumed that since my father was dead, funds should go to my grandfather’s remaining step-children and a favorite nephew. And I don’t think I’d have as big an issue with this is I didn’t have small children that I believe—had my father not died at a young age—would have benefited from the legacy of their great grandparents. Now, just their cousins will. As others have said, I guess that’s life.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I hate to say, but I think your topic question says more than you intended about your feelings for the man himself:

My grandfather died. How should I feel about this?

… and the details relate to the division of spoils. In other words, it’s not even “how should I feel about the death of my grandfather?” but “how should I feel that he apparently snubbed my mother in his will? ... and oh, yeah, by the way, he died and all…”

Maybe you really cared about your grandfather, although that’s not apparent from the details in the Q. But your mother was never mentioned in the description of who ate dinner at whose house and who was close to whom. It seems that she was never part of the relationship between your grandfather and your aunts after your father died. (“Fine relationship” and “not especially close” sort of cancel each other out, don’t they?) I can’t make judgments about how your family got along (it’s probably better than mine, so I’d better not attempt any judgments), but if she wasn’t close enough to him to be mentioned in that description, and your father died 20 years ago, then why would there be any surprise? Obviously your aunts are quite a bit older than you and perhaps need the money, and we don’t know (maybe you don’t, either) what provisions your grandfather may have made for your mother 20 years ago.

pallen123's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Very helpful observations. Yes, my mother was much less a part of my grandfather’s life after my father died, I think in part because she was a step-daughter-in-law but also because she, unlike one of my aunts, lives on the other side of the country and is disabled with MS. I think you’re right—that my mother’s relationship was nowhere near as close as my aunt’s relationship with him—but I know my mother genuinely cared for him and tried as best she could to stay in touch and visit him when she traveled to where he lived. Frankly, how I feel about my grandfather dying is ambivalent. He was 96 yrs. old, which in my book is a long life. He was sometimes kind and often crotchety. I think he thought of me as a six yr. old my whole life, even though I became a responsible man long ago. I didn’t know him well but I know he thought of himself as honorable and generous and loving toward his family—and he adored my young children and lavished them with hugs and kisses.

lillycoyote's avatar

@pallen123 know it must be very difficult to stand by and see your mother treated unfairly and I can’t tell you how upset you should be. But you might want to pay special attention to @DrasticDreamer‘s answer. Wills and inheritance issues make people insane and this may just be about how much insanity and conflict you want to bring into your life. Even if it never get to private investigators and courts it could cause a tremendous rifts in your family. The will is a legal document and there’s not much you can do. This is one of the few circumstance where I would say it’s all about how you choose to react.

Kayak8's avatar

OK, so this man has three step-children and he gave essentially one third to one daughter, one third to another daughter, one third to a nephew (wealthy or not is irrelevant), but he carved out a little something for your mother who is ill. He had no obligation to include her at all.

pallen123's avatar

@Kayak8 Thanks for your comments. Of course I agree he had no obligation to do anything. As a lawyer I understand this. As a father (and son of his son) I find it sad. The other sad part for me is that I can’t fathom my aunts not feeling that my mother (their sister in law who is ill, and my sister and I as parents of young children) would feel hurt and overlooked. But they have said and done nothing. Of course they are not obligated to say or do anything. But if they loved my father (their brother) as much as they claim, I would think they would express more concern for his family. Not an obligation. Just human kindness.

Judi's avatar

You feel what you feel and you don’t have a lot if choice in that. What you can choose is how you will react. You can also choose the attitude you will assume going forward.
If I were you I would choose to abandon bitterness. It does no good.
Grieve the loss, and your loss is great. Not only did you loose your grandfather, your vision of your part of the families value to him has been shattered.
Bitterness is like a cancer. It just gets ugglier with time. The sooner you can cut it out the better.

pallen123's avatar

@Judi Thank you for your helpful comments. This whole thread has been very helpful so thank you everyone for your comments. They are all helpful in their own way. This was not a man I was close to. But I know my father was close to his mother and I think my fantasy was that that bond would endure through my grandfather’s relationship with my father’s grandchildren. And I saw my grandfather light up around his grandchildren. But apparently they were not so important to him. He is gone now and hopefully soon my memories of him too.

skfinkel's avatar

I also found your question itself a bit odd: How should I feel about my grandfather dying? (How could anyone possibly tell you?) The situation is so hard, but your grandfather has spoken, through his will. If there was a time to influence this, it would have been when he was living—and that might not have made a difference anyway. But now it is too late. I really like @GingerMinx ‘s answer, and it is worth going back to. The only advice I would have is to avoid, like the plague, any litigation over this. It will destroy the family, and you won’t win, and the estate will be reduced dramatically by the court costs. No one wins in those situations.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@pallen123 with everything you’re saying here, I think you’re allowing your thoughts of “the money we could have had” to color your thoughts of the man. He was who he was, and he made decisions about his will that you obviously don’t understand, and it’s too bad you can’t discuss it with him, if you even could have were he still alive.

I recall that the last conversation I had with my father before he died unexpectedly was an unsatisfactory one. He was upset about something—not shouting or angry, just unhappy about a squabble between one of my sisters and me that he felt in the middle of—and that wasn’t resolved well in that phone call. And I never had another chance at another conversation. It doesn’t really bother me, because he knew I loved him, and I knew he loved me. But it’s too bad that that is my final memory of him.

I would suggest that you forget about the money. You’re doing okay, and he may have done you a favor, whether you realize it or not, by not giving you money that you didn’t earn. Keep the good memories of him; that’s the real man, not what happens to his ‘stuff’ after he dies. The memories are real; stuff is shit.

pallen123's avatar

Thanks @CyanoticWasp great perspective. You’re right. Would have been great if I could have discussed this with him before he died. Unfortunately he wasn’t a discussing kind of guy. One of my aunt’s had a vice grip on getting any alone time with him and I think part of my anger is towards her—because she really needs the money and I know she exercised her powers unduly to monopolize him (which really limited the depth of relationships others could try to have with him). Having lost my father at a young age, I would have liked to have had a relationship with my grandfather. And I would have liked for him to have shown more respect for my father. But it is what it is.

truecomedian's avatar

Is your main concern that your mom got so little, you also said that a larger part went to a wealthy nephew. You have a problem with this, but sometimes money is best kept by those with money. I would take any advice from your mom, in that you should feel how she feels, she seems grateful for what she got.

Kayak8's avatar

@pallen123 When my grandfather died, he left half of his estate to one daughter and one half to the other daughter (my mom). My brother became so outraged that he didn’t get “his rightful inheritance” and he beat it to death, haranguing everyone else in the family to the degree that very few of us even talk to him anymore. Money makes people do strange things. I think, for my brother, what looks like money to me would have been some sort of validation of his role in the family. What people do with their money when they die might make sense or it might not. How people react to “what they get” is equally a crap shoot.

In your question you referenced a “change” to the allocations of the trust. Were you privy to the previous distribution of allocations?

truecomedian's avatar

I forgot something, I owe you an apology. I was so concerned with analyzing your question I forgot the most important thing. You lost a relative, I’m sorry for your loss. I wish your mom could have got more, money has a way of soothing the pain, makes it more of a celebration. Death doesnt have to be all bad. It’s sad though, I remember when I lost my grandpa, I cried. Fluther should help, hope you get some good responses.

pallen123's avatar

Thank you @truecomedian. And @Kayak8 the prior allocations were provided in the Trust documents. At one time there were small but specific allocations for the grandchildren—which would have slightly lifted my umbrage at my children and nieces being overlooked. But the allocations changed a couple times when my grandmother died.

Marva's avatar

It is non of your bussiness!
When a man writes his orderes for after his death, he knows why he wants to do what.
The validity of his reasons in your eyes is irrelevant!! aswell as the financial situation of the reciepients. This doesnt sound like an issue of disrespect to me, it sounds like you were expecting some dough, and you are disapointed. That’s ok.
It could be true that he made these choice out of harshness, even out of ill thought. But you are facing a fact that you cannot change. anything you say will damper the relationships and you really have no idea why he chose so. It just might be that your mother knows just why….

BarnacleBill's avatar

This man was not a blood relative of your father. If this was your father’s biological father, it would seem a little weird. Your father’s been dead for 20 years.

You’re not entitled to anything.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Marva @pallen123 has never stated he expected something for himself. This is not at all an unusual situation. He feels like maybe his mother was treated unfairly. That’s what sons do. They look after the best interest of their mothers and can often become upset when they believe that they, their mothers, have been treated unfairly. Cut him some fucking slack.

Marva's avatar

@lillycoyote “None of us are well off. We’re not poor but we struggle like most people”
He obviously is trying to say it is not about the money for him, but it doesn’t sound so to me..
It sounds like he wanted some dough out of this, and now he is taking the victim identity: “my mother was kicked to the curve” boo-hoo… No, she was not.
She was simply left to deal with whatever she did or didn’t take care to have for herself. Like most of us, who have to take care of ourselfs, because salvation only comes from whithin…..

There is another way to look at this: having his stepson die 20 years ago, there was nothing he could leave him, but instead he chose to respect his widow, with what was never hers to inherit (she has her own parents for that), but in a symbolic trait. Mr. here could have also chosen to be a bit THANKFUL….

lillycoyote's avatar

@Marva I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree with you. Like it or not, in a will, the allocation of money to various persons is either a way of saying “you need it more than someone else does” or a way of saying “I value you more than I value the other person.” It is the latter that seems to be the case here. That is what @pallen123 is upset about. It may be in part about the money, but it is not at all entirely so, in my opinion. And, by the way, putting “my mother was kicked to the curve” (and btw that should be “kicked to the curb) in quotes and in bold misrepresents that as something @pallen123 said, a direct quote, which is not the case at all.

Marva's avatar

@lillycoyote Actually, he did say that, in one of his reponses to a response.
It is ok to disagree, and I even agree that what you wrote could be true, it could be a way to say “I don’t value you in my life”, but, maybe he knows why? and can we judge his reasons after his death? maybe even mother knows why…

WMFlight's avatar

If I were you I would just stop thinking about it. I’m sure he didn’t mean to upset anyone with his will, money isn’t love and there might be private reasons you are unaware of that made him change his will or it might be that had he lived to 94 he might have just changed his will again and left it all to the local cat’s home which would probably do more good.
I’m sorry for your loss but in a way he has left you all something beyond price as there is a good chance his genes will take you into your 90’s and perhaps beyond!

Inspired_2write's avatar

Be thankful that he left anything.
He did not owe anyone anything.
Nowadays people seem to think that they should get?

Remember that your Grandfather worked a long life for what he saved for.
And for whatever reasons that he chooses to give as an inheritance is his choice to make.

In my family simular happened to us..we got nothing.
Not even a photo or heirloom to remember them?
I felt later that it had something to do with ” out of sight out of mind”..as my parents had moved many miles away from there parents ( my Gradparents).
The Grandparents never even knew us.( we were lumped with strangers)catagory.
Also somthing as simple as “need” was their criteria.
In one case a fried told me tht the inheritance went to only the women as the Grandparent though that the men could look after themselves and therefore did not need it as much?

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