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furious_rose's avatar

My mom left everything to my daughter in her Will; how do I cope?

Asked by furious_rose (356points) July 4th, 2017

My life has been a series of one hardship after another. My mother and I were estranged for the last year of her life, but we had started talking by email and I thought we were back on track. I am an only child. I have one daughter who is 21 (I am 45). My mother died last month and left the million dollar house to my daughter, which hurts so badly, it’s difficult to grieve my mom’s passing. If there had been other siblings that she excluded, it would have been easier! I work so hard and have nothing. My daughter has her whole life to be successful; I’m constantly struggling, and on food stamps. It’s embarrassing, too. It’s not natural to exclude your child as an heir. How do I come to terms with this? I don’t want to hate my daughter for getting the house; it’s not her “fault,” but I feel so worthless.

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12 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I hesitate to answer this Q, because I don’t want to cause you more pain. Maybe knowing you are not alone will help, but I really am not sure. I find in these situations it often doesn’t.

It’s not uncommon for parents to exclude children in their will if that child cut them off from communications. I don’t know if you were the one who cut her off, or if you both just stopped communicating, or if she did it, or what. I’m not assuming, but I can tell you in my experience, usually, when a child cuts off a parent the pain for the parent is incredible. My sister cut off my dad years ago, and it’s agony for him. I try to tell him I see this happen in many families, he has friends in the same situation, and it doesn’t help him feel better.

Often, those same children just see being written out of the will as more proof of why they had shitty parents, and were right all along. They also, often, resent the person who did get the money, like siblings, grandchildren, or even charities. Sometimes, the parent truly was horrible, sometimes not. Again, I don’t know your situation. It’s understandable why you are so upset. Especially, if this is just a resent estrangement. You would think 40 years of being there as a daughter would count for something. Your mom put your daughter in a horrible position too. Giving her everything meant risking strife between you and your own daughter.

Will your daughter share the wealth with you at all? Has she said anything to imply she wants to, or have you asked her about it. You could ask a lawyer if you have any legal recourse.

jca's avatar

Maybe you can live in the house with your daughter. Is your relationship with your daughter a good one? Do you live together now? Will she be a good maintainer of the property?

If your daughter can’t afford the taxes and upkeep, that’s not going to work well.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

I was started on an entirely different response to this question – which is so far out of my ken that it was purely emotional and … blah. So I erased all of that and decided on a more analytical approach: What would I do if …

So, if I put myself in your shoes, here’s what I’d be thinking to myself:

We had a rift – whatever that was to cause a year-long wall between us. (And I can’t even imagine what that was, or its cause or antecedents, so that’s your own back-story to fill in and contemplate.) But whatever it was, it caused my mother to visit her attorney and write (or change) her will to specifically exclude me. She was, obviously, angry and bitter. Hurt? Had I done something to cause her to feel betrayal, treachery, or a loathing of me that would be so deep and so permanent, so irrevocable? Or could it have been nothing more than a huge misunderstanding?

I’d be thinking – before I simply wrote her off as a bitter and vengeful old woman – whether I had done anything to deserve this kind of slap in the face from beyond the grave. (I know that I haven’t, but you know you.) I would reflect on that for a long time – but I would think of my mother’s life in its totality, too – and wonder for all of that time whether she was just that awful, that angry – or whether I actually deserved any part of that. (I know that I do deserve some of the bad treatment that the universe hands me sometimes, and I accept that, which helps me to deal with it, to get over it … and to be a better person in the future. Like I said, you know you.)

But here’s where the more devious part of my mind also starts to work. I know a little bit about interpersonal relationships, though obviously I don’t know any member of your family. I do know mine…

Not knowing anything about your daughter or her relationship with you or with her grandmother, I’d be wondering if and this is only the wildest speculation she had had anything to do with creating, prolonging or worsening the rift between myself and my mother, and whether I had been misrepresented deliberately and in ways that I could not easily detect. Almost undoubtedly, that’s not the case here. But I’d consider it if only to be able to be absolutely certain, “No, it’s not that.”

Assuming that the relationship between yourself and your daughter is strong and normally loving – and that none of your mother’s anger and bitterness had transmitted through you to your own daughter (you can see why that would be a concern, right?), and being 100% certain of her own bona fides, I’d have a long series of talks with her.

Obviously, it’s possible that even if you do have a strong and loving relationship with your daughter, your mother could have been attempting to destroy that with this gift to her. Was she that diabolical? Is that a thing that she would want to happen? Can your daughter recognize on her own (this isn’t a thing that you’d want to tell her to “guilt her” into forfeiting a huge windfall) the seeds of destruction that may have been sown by her grandmother’s “gift”?

I guess that one of the things that I would talk to my daughter about, and this time openly and frankly, is how difficult it would be, should she choose to keep the house and live in it, to visit her there. That is, to be reminded on every visit why you were “visiting” the house that by all reasonable expectations should have been your own, or at least “mostly so”.

But the most important thing that I would try to come to grips with, and I hope you can do this, if nothing else:
1. I would try to realize that I didn’t “lose” anything that was already mine. (That is, I hope that you didn’t take your mother for granted to expect that, “I’ll get all this when she kicks.”) So there’s no “loss” here other than a failure to realize what might have been a gain.

2. I’d be happy that my daughter could benefit, and (assuming that I had been able to assure myself that she had not cheated me out of the inheritance, which I hope you can do in an instant) I would try to be grateful that her grandmother had considered her future in her will. (Because she could just as easily have given the house and estate to anyone else, even aside from your daughter.)

Be well. Try to find peace in this.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Well, I understand why you may be angry but I would say this first: Nothing was taken from you. You still have what you had before and now you have a daughter that has a huge windfall. I do not know if you or her are good with money but it could simpy be that your mother wanted to leave the estate in the most capable hands in the family , or it could simply been spite. We know none of the circumstances here. As much as it hurts you need to do whatever you can to guide your daughter in making the best decisions. At 21 managing that kind of money is no simple task.

canidmajor's avatar

I am estranged from my elderly mother, no hope for reconciliation, and understanding this kind of rift is painful.
To address “how can I cope” with an end-of-life circumstance like this is almost impossible unless one has been there, or is trained.
There is a website,, that is very comprehensive, has resources and helpful fora, and it’s anonymous and the people are kind.
They are more likely to be able to address your emotional concerns here with more empathy and understanding than we are.

These types of family issues are extraordinarily complex and distressing. I wish for you a resolution.

rojo's avatar

You have taken the first steps.

You recognize there is a problem and that you need to work through it for your own sanity and well being.

You have reached out for help.

Unfortunately I, and most here, are not really qualified to help guide you through the period of emotional upheaval. This is where you need the assistance of someone who has a more professional training in helping someone who is hurting as badly as you must be come to grips with the situation.

We can offer you support, anecdotes, observations, personal experiences and, as @canidmajor did, other places that might help but we cannot give you all of what you need.

Stay, ask questions, take comforts, rant, utilize all we can offer but please realize that we cannot get you through this, Your wounds are greater than we can heal.

Zaku's avatar

I would think you would cope by working on processing your relationship with your mom, and keeping a healthy relationship with your daughter.

I’d do peer counseling (since I’ve studied that) and other processing techniques I’ve learned from various disciplines. Other forms of counseling can also be great.

cookieman's avatar

My mother stopped talking to us nine years ago after my father died. It was my idea to finally call her on her toxic behavior and ask that we work on the relationship — that she meet me halfway, as it were. Instead, she chose to disconnect (after some choice words) and we haven’t heard from her since.

If she were to pass and leave everything to my daughter, I’d be okay with that because:
• It’s not my money to begin with.
• She owes me nothing anyway.
• Part of my parenting job is to help ensure some financial stability for my daughter. My estranged mother leaving her money would help ensure that — so, bonus.

I understand it hurts. I’ve been there, but I’d rather have a relationship with her than her stuff anyway. Since I can’t have that, the stuff is irrelevant.

gondwanalon's avatar

Try looking at this like this:

-You are not financially or physically harmed by not getting the house.
-The house was never yours.
-You did not buy it.
-You have lost nothing.

Move on with your life. Good health to you.

furious_rose's avatar

I could never live with my daughter (Jill) in my childhood home; the dynamic would be too volatile. I would have to ask for her permission to do certain things, like put lights on the outside of the house for Christmas, and that’s too humiliating.

Even now, I am having a lot of trouble trying to “help” without looking like I am interfering. I honestly do want to help! Although it kills me that I am not “in charge,” I don’t want the house to fall apart or become a liability. That wouldn’t do either of us any good.

I do not believe that Jill has the fortitude necessary to maintain a house. She lacks follow through and tends to put things off until the last minute.

She found termites in one area of the house, and that is not something that you can “hope will get better if you just ignore it!” That should be the first thing on her mind when she wakes up in the morning! I told her to make a list of all of the extremely important tasks she needs to deal with, and tackle one each day. She gets caught up in the minutia (“I need to get a new shower curtain and I need to mop the kitchen”) and gets frozen in place. I think it’s procrastination transitioning into laziness and apathy.

I even told her that she didn’t have to try to deal with all of this on her own, because I could help. I have time to get quotes for termite control, and I would enjoy being a part of the process. But she won’t even listen to me when I bring up the subject.

In fact, most of my text messages to her go unanswered or unacknowledged. It seems like the offer has to be good enough (“Do you want to get your hair colored? Do you want to go to your favorite chicken restaurant?”) for her to bother to respond.

It’s easy to tell me to get on with my life, that I am no further ahead nor further behind because of all this, but I guess I am not that mature.

My mother bought Jill a car and now she has given her a house, and Jill is not even 22 years old. She has never had to “save up” for an expensive item, or work overtime for extra money, or come up with a down payment for anything. I think that breeds entitlement. It’s just a bad situation all around.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

You could seek legal advice. If you feel you have a legitimate claim on the estate.

chyna's avatar

After seeing that you have another question about your husband being in jail and having been a sex offender, maybe your mom had her reasons to give your daughter money and not your. Maybe she was afraid your husband would take any money she gave you.

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