General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Have you had a contentious probate situation with family members or others?

Asked by canidmajor (20896points) June 5th, 2023

If you are comfortable doing so, would you be willing to share your story? Heartbreaking, inconvenient, amusing, all stories will be appreciated.

Did Mr Snugglefluff get the yacht? Did you get stuck with that awful eyesore shack? Did your blind cousin get the Lambo?

What did you do?

Putting this in General to avoid massive derailings, not to squelch your fun.

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15 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Our family must be very lucky. There has not been a hint of controversy. Only one item involved probate because it was property in New York state. Everything else transferred over as listed on the account information. Very straightforward.

jca2's avatar

My mother had two siblings and she (my mother) was the Executor of my grandfather’s estate, which involved a large house. My aunt had the attorney reprint the will, with the signature page standing alone (which, if you know, the signature page is not supposed to be its own page). The lines where my mother was named were crossed out and initialed with initials that were not my grandfather’s writing, the reprint named my aunt as Executor. Long story short, my mother and her sister got almost nothing, and the selling of the house was very contentious. In addition, my aunt got all the good furniture, china, silverware. My mother and her other sibling sued my aunt. My mother never spoke to her sister again. Whenever we would discuss it with my mother, she would say no, because her sister got everything and it cost my mother and her other sibling 30 thousand dollars (to sue). Even when my mother was on her deathbed, my aunt wanted to visit but we said no, my mother would definitelly not want that. Her sibling still doesn’t talk to my aunt. It caused a total rift in the family. My aunt’s children are caught in the middle. One was very close to my mother and visited often, and the other is closer to his mother and so didn’t see my mother or her other sibling except at funerals. Very messy.

filmfann's avatar

My wife’s grandmother died.
Her will stated that her farm, including her house, would be sold, with the money being split between the grandchildren, not her children. She felt her kids were grown, owned their own homes, and the grandchildren would appreciate it.
My wife’s aunt was livid.
Since she was on the insurance for the house, she burned the house down.
The remaining farmland was sold, and my wife received about $500 for her share.
My wife’s aunt got away with it. As it turned out, she had done this before.

jca2's avatar

@filmfann that could be a Dateline episode or a 20/20 episode!

filmfann's avatar

@jca2 My wife is a wonderful, generous, and loving woman. It amazes me how her aunt could be such an evil couillon.

jca2's avatar

@filmfann I admit I had to google that one. Feminine form couillonne.

filmfann's avatar

@jca2 I recently heard that used in a film version of Henry V.

canidmajor's avatar

Omigod, you guys, these are awful (and fascinating!) stories! I am sorry that these things happen, even my little stupid thing with my sisters is stressful, but not nearly as awful!

Forever_Free's avatar

Not yet. But just you wait until they go through mine. I will post about it from the afterlife.

cookieman's avatar

Not really. When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he told me there was money for me in his will.

Over the 18-months he was sick and dying, my mother’s worst behavior took over and there were clues something changed.

After he died, I was never contacted by an attorney (or anybody) about him having a will. I chose not to follow up or look into it because it’s not that important in the greater scheme of things.

I may have been wrong for not pursuing it.

canidmajor's avatar

@cookieman If it wasn’t for things that were intended by my father to benefit his grandchildren, I would let the passing of my mother be duly noted, and move on with no other thought. Unfortunately, there is too much precedent to think there won’t be damaging shenanigans involved.
Families. They’re a trip, huh?

cookieman's avatar

I get that. As my daughter has told both my wife and I, “You two did not win the parent lottery”.

JLeslie's avatar

Thankfully, I have not had this problem, but I expect it to happen with my sister when my parents die. I hope it doesn’t happen.

I do have a story about a very close friend of the family; she was a friend of my mom and I played with her children growing up, we were all similar ages. Let’s call my mom’s friend Marlene for the story. When Marlene’s mom died there was no will. Her father had already passed away a few years before. Her father had been married before and had two daughters from his first marriage. Marlene and her older half sisters grew up together, and the half siblings would visit their dad regularly, and everyone got along. Marlene’s dad owned a huge piece of land in New York State (I think it was 50 acres) which automatically went to his wife (Marlene’s mom) at the time of his death. One of his daughters from his first marriage lived in a house on the land and continued to do so after his death.

When Marlene’s mom died, since there was no will, all of the land would supposedly go to Marlene. Her half sisters sued (not sure that is the correct term) for part of the land since it was originally their father’s land. The probate judge decided that the land would all go to Marlene, but that the sister living on the land did not have to move, that she could stay there until her death, but the land nor the house could go to any of her heirs. I don’t know if the sisters ever forgave Marlene, but it was a bad situation last I heard. My mom stopped talking to Marlene, because my mom thought it was horrible that Marlene didn’t split the land with the sisters in some way, even if it had not been in equal parts.

jca2's avatar

A good friend of mine had a father and the father married a new wife, as he was a widow (my friend’s mother died). The new wife had an adult daughter, and the father, the new wife and the adult children all got along ok. Then, the father had a will and legal documents drawn up naming my friend as Executor and giving her authority with the legal documents. When the father became more senile with dementia, the wife and her daughter had the will changed and the other legal documents changed, so my friend had no say in anything when the father died and it was all divided up. My friend was pretty much written out of the Will. I think she got a small amount from a life insurance policy that was in her name, like 10k or something, and she felt guilty and gave half to her step mother (her father’s wife).

Years went by and she was bitter about the whole thing, and there was a rift. Recently, in the past few years, she became close again with her step mother and is going to visit and spend overnights (stepmom lives in the next state over) and going to family barbecues and stuff. She told me even though those bad things happened, she did enjoy her stepmother and she would rather live with happy feelings than bitterness. I can understand that. The stepmother also was found to have stolen from the father, by forging his signature on credit card applications and stuff, and I think that was all unpaid after he died. The stepmother now lives in a little crappy apartment and doesn’t have much except her SS but it is what it is.

The stepmother is and always was a hoarder and into decorating, and had every flat surfacec covered with crystal candlesticks, frames, doilies, the walls were all covered with crappy decorations, and the stepmother was always re-doing the decor (African theme, Victorian theme, etc.).

YARNLADY's avatar

I was the executor of my parent’s estate. The only issue we had was getting a final “paid in full” statement from the hospital. The house sold for a reasonable amount, but I couldn’t distribute the funds. My brother’s RV got totalled in a crash, he wasn’t hurt, so I released part of his share to buy another one. It took 6 months before I could divide the whole thing. With her permission, I bought life insurance for my sister, a single mom with unhealthy habits, with part of her share. She got her life straightened out later and is currently healthy and happy.
I loaned part of mine to my SIL, and she has not yet paid me back (30 years later).

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