Lost My Inheiritance

jannieFebruary 7, 2013

Dad died in 1998, Mom died in January 2011.All she had was her home, no savings or insurance. She left everything to my only brother, with verbal instructions to share equally with us three sisters. She didn't leave a will but we trusted our brother. We asked for a few sentimental things and some pieces of furniture. One sister got a set of bedroom furniture, that's all. Brother started acting a bit "paranoid". My two sisters were never allowed inside the house after Mom's death. I lived 500 miles away but brother told me not to visit, there was nothing special to see with Mom gone. My sister who got the furniture found it piled in her driveway one day. The other sister asked for some old school records, brother said they had got wet and moldy so he threw them out. I made a specific list of sentimental items, a few old toys, pair of lamps, kitchen items. Brother lived alone in the house, said he was fixing it up to sell. I phoned him at least once a month to ask about his progress. He said he was painting, fixing, whatever. At one point he held an estate sale, sold most of the furniture. He admitted to me he threw out every toy and book he found, and there were plenty. Mom was definitely a "hoarder". Yeah, just like on those TV shows. In early December last year I spoke with him on the phone, he sounded quiet and depressed. I tried to draw him out, asked questions to get some conversation going, he gave one-word answers. Then on December 19 he shot himself to death. Yes I knew he was depressed . He'd had mental problems all his life, never held a meaningful job, was divorced with 2 kids he never saw after the divorce. And we knew he had guns. So what should I have done? Called the police ahead of time ? "My brother is depressed and living alone and he has guns" We didn't know what to do and now he's gone. Turns out my Mother had taken out one of those "Over 62 Reverse Mortgages" you see advertised on TV. So the house now belongs to A Big Bank. He left a four page suicide note leaving his personal belongings to his long time girlfriend. My sister have a key to the house and visited after his death, technically they were trespassing on the bank's property. They found very little, a few things piled in a bedroom. Photo albums and loose photos going back to the 1880's. Yes, our Grandma's photos. Also a very few personal belongings.Some dishes and pots and pans. No jewelry, nothing of personal or financial value. All the photos and my Mother's belongings are now at one sisters house. She said I can have 2 things- a hand-painted baby plate with my name and birthdate on it and a small diary Mom kept in high school. Everything else I wanted is gone. Two items I really wanted are missing- the bride and groom cake topper from my wedding cake in 1979 that had been on Mom and Dads cake in 1946. And my bronzed baby shoes are gone. So I have to be content with some photographs and my memories. My inheiritance is lost.I'm not looking for advice. I have my own life and it's pretty busy. I did talk to a priest after my brother's death. I'm a full time caregiver for a sick husband. I have two daughters in their 20s. So life goes on.

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Well don't beat yourself up, if someone wants to kill themselves, they certainly don't need a gun to do it and there's nothing anyone could have done to take his guns away and calling the police is not an option at all!

Just use this as a good lesson of what not to do! Be sure and have a very clear and spelled out WILL!!!!! Not just your money but your keepsakes that your offspring would like to have. Actually...a very nice thing to do is to go on ahead and distribute some things to your kids now while you are still living and really it means so much more to us kids (speaking for myself) to be given things by our parents when they are living then to have them "divvied" out once they've passed away.

Apparently your mother didn't have enough money to live on so she felt she had to do that reverse mortgage. Sometimes, especially in this economy, we are desperate for money to pay our bills because that tiny little SS check certain doesn't even cover the bare minimum of bills these days! A SS check wouldn't even cover our utilities and insurances and taxes much less FOOD!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:38AM
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I'm sorry. I guess I don't know what else to say, except life does go on. My mother had her inheritances stolen from her, so I somewhat understand what you are going through. My words to my Mom were, and are, that it is only things and the most important thing in this world is not things but the people you have to love and treasure.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:50AM
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Jannie, I am so sorry for what you have gone through. You have had more on your shoulders the last two years than anyone should have to endure. I hope there are wonderful blessings in store for you in the future, because you certainly deserve them. Hugs!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:57AM
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(((Jannie)))) It sounds very frustrating. You're right, you couldn't have done anything. I am very sorry about your brother. He couldn't throw away your memories, so enjoy them fully. I wish you every peace and happiness.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Yes I have rich warm memories. I had a very symbolic dream a few days ago. I dreamed I fell on my back in the basement of my own home. I struggled but couldn't stand up. My late Mother appeared at the door and spoke to me. She extended her hand but I knew she was too thin and weak to pull me up. I told her to get my two daughters, they are bigger and stronger. The meaning of my dream is obvious. Live in the present, don't expect help from your Mother. I do intend to give my daughters anything they want. I recently cleaned my closet and found some old dance outfits from when they were little. They didn't want them, so I boxed them up and mailed them to my sister for her three year old granddaughter to play dress-up. Made me feel good.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:22AM
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Jannie, sending Peace and Love your way~~~

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:56AM
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That is some very good advice. Go ahead and give it now, so you can watch them enjoy it. I have a friend who does this. I hadn't thought of it, but it's obviously good for both the giver and the receiver. You are wise to know your dream's meaning. I think you're right on target. (((Jannie)))

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:32AM
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You have the inheritance of a mother's love. I'm so sorry this has happened to you, but keep thinking of all the positives in your life. You are loved.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Jannie, sorry about all your losses of your family but you DO have your inheritance. It's not things but WHO you are as a result of being the daughter of your Mom and Dad. They're part of you forever from your dna to your humor and caring ways and all other attributes. Rest in the knowledge that there was NOTHING you could do to help your brother. He wasn't open to help. He's at peace now which is what he desperately desired. Life was too hard for him. It's okay. You need to remember always that your inheritance is in the smiles and tears or your children and I'm sure you'll bestow on them your beautiful nature that we could so easily see in your post. God bless all of you, her and in another dimension.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:31AM
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Hi again ((((((Jannie)))))),

I am sad that you have had all of these issues to deal with, in addition to the other stuff.

While it's too bad that you couldn't have the baby shoes and the ornament from the wedding cake tangibly, you can see them in your mind's eye.

And a good part of your inheritance is the capable, outgoing, compassionate you that partly were generated by your admiration for those capabilities that you appreciated in your mother.

How sad it is ... that verbal instructions that accompany a will ...

... are worth just about the value of the paper that they're written on!

In any case ... it appears that there was little net value remaining in the house, even had it been available.

And even had there been a million dollars' value there ...

... at today's interest rates, if it were to produce one per cent after deduction of tax cost, and the erosion of value of the asset due to inlation (which few bonds do) ...

... that'd be $10,000.

Not much of a lifestyle would be produced from that.

Plus ... please don't beat yourself up over not having taken action following your discussion with your brother: you did what you felt to be best, at the time. And even had you taken definite action, it's doubtful whether enough action might have resulted to have forestalled his choice of what to do with his life.

Sending good thoughts and hopes for the days ahead for you and your family, Jannie ... and offering some prayers, as wll.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:45PM
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I appreciate all the kind words. After my Mom's death, I realized I had already received much from my parents: their genes in every cell of my body, my basically good nature, some wonderful memories. We grew up in a multi-generation home, my remaining Grandmother, loving parents, four kids, fantastic Christmases, good values, lots of happy times, a few vacations. My Dad taught me to ride a bike and drive a car. Mom taught me to sew and knit. I'm already rich. A few dollars wouldn't make much difference.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:06PM
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My inheritance and my sister's for that matter were stolen but I look at it this way: I respect myself. I did the right thing. I know the thief has no conscience so there's no guilt and even going so far as to turn the family against us with false claims I still figure I can live without them and do.

Few of us can read another's mind. Don't blame yourself for things over which you have no control. Take responsibility for what you do and you'll be fine. Enjoy life while you can and don't be distracted by things that don't matter. Enjoy the day.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:06PM
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I am not very good at putting my thoughts into words,but a lot of people here are and have given you good thoughts.I can only add my prayers for peace for you.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:02PM
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My heart goes out to you Jannie.

Addressing the advice of giving things to your children while you are living: when my mother was ill before she passed, she tried to do just that. I wouldn't take her jewelry. I didn't want to acknowledge that she wouldn't be wearing it herself. Now....oh, how I wish I'd accepted her gifts.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:07PM
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My grandma gave me two wooden plates, of which I treasure one, and my oldest daughter has the other one. Since she died, my sister got hold of lots of things that belonged to Omi. I now have a few more. Sis isn't hanging on it all any longer, and doesn't want to to just disappear one day. Now, my younger daughter can pick something out, when she comes in March.

Life goes on, and our memories are the best treasure we can have.

Hang in there.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:35PM
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I too can only pray/offer peace in your life. Sometimes those we love the most also know ...or don't realize how to, hurt us the most.
There is no growth in reliving what has happened, your growth will come from moving on with the fond memories that you CHOOSE to hold dear to you.
I wish you well.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:43PM
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Thinking of you Janine.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:55PM
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    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:09PM
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The memories are the only things that matter. Baby shoes and photos would be nice to have. . . but my memories are in my mind, not in an object. I am so sorry you have to deal with your brothers suicide -- I didn't have to deal with that when my "inheritance was stolen." It was just "objects" and a WHOLE lot of money. I just had to let the ugliness and family split go and focus on the good memories. It's been almost 9 years -- I made peace about 8 years ago. It took other siblings a lot longer. Hugs to you.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:22PM
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This is a very sad story. From what I read in your post, other than memoribila, there was nothing to inherit. Your mother had already turned over the house to a bank via reverse mortage. After her demise, it became the bank's property. Depending on the terms of the contract, if there were valus left, the bank couls have sold the property and after fees, retuned what remained to the estate. I am not sure, but I believe that in most cases, the bank takes all after the prior owner passes. That becomes their profit. They gamble you are going to die sooner and the owner gambles he'll live longer.

If brother was not aware of how a reverse mortage works or that monnny had taken one out, it probably came as a shock to him when the bank told him he was 'homeless' and set a time limit for him to vacate.

Brother should have been more generous with stuff before he threw it away. It would have been helpful if you and your sibilings could have visited the home soon after mother's death to divide personal items. In the community I came from, this is sometimes done the day after the funeral while many family members are present. In other cases, the division was done as soon as possible and those present represented any missing sibling. Personal items of the missing siglings would be shipped to them except for large items such as furniture. The missing person would be invited to claim his/her piece and to be responsible for removing it within by a given date.

Do not beat yourself up too much. In this case, it may have been to much to expect a brother with mental challenges to look after your interests. It is unfortunate that you did not live closer so that you could have helped. I think that brother was dealing with two items: the loss of Mom and the loss of a home. He may not have known where to turn.

And now you have 3 losses: the loss of your Mom, the loss of heirloom items and memoribila, and finally the tragic death of your brother. Step back, take a deep breath, and hold yourself together. We posters are pulling for you.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:40PM
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gentle hugs for you(((((Jannie))))))

Been thru EXACTLY what Cynic has-awful road to have to travel,but it can be done.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 1:36AM
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gentle hugs for you(((((Jannie))))))

Been thru EXACTLY what Cynic has-awful road to have to travel,but it can be done.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 1:37AM
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I'm sorry, Jannie...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:05AM
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I am very sorry for all that you have gone through. As the other posters have said, you have your memories. I hope that everyone who has read of your experience makes certain that their wills are up to date and properly written. I live in Canada, so perhaps wills are dealt with differently in the U.S. - but here, if your Mom willed the house to your brother with the verbal understanding that he would share the estate with you and your sisters he would have been under no legal obligation to do so. The will left the house to him and he would be legally entitled to all of the proceeds - and in Canada - without death taxes payable by him. Any funds he passed to you and your sisters would be taxable. Due to his sudden and sad death, if there had been any residual value in the house that would have gone to your brother, the funds would have passed to your brother's children - not to you and your sisters. If no children and your brother died without a will, then the remaining funds would have been divided equally among his surviving siblings (or their children). I guess your Mom needed the money to live so took out the Reverse Mortgage - certainly can't blame her for that. I think the laws on Reverse Mortgages differ from country to country and maybe even from state to state (we see commercials in Toronto for them all the time). I know the hit is high. I would only do it for living expenses - not to help my children or grandchildren buy a home - or to travel. I am truly sorry for all that you have lost - especially the loss of your brother.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 11:29AM
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I've not been on the forum for a LONG time, but had about 10 min of library computer time & jumped on.

I'm so sorry to read of your loss & your husband's illness. It has to be a very rough road you're traveling with the loss of your inheritance. No one can take your memories & while you can't draw literal pictures, you can draw word pictures to share with your children. I've written some of mine down & need to do more of them. My youngest son has already started doing it for his kids. All will be cherished.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Thanks again for all your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. I'm adjusting to the recent loses I've suffered, my Mom in 2011, brother last year, now no money from inheiritance. Also with a sick husband to take care of,my own kidney failure and recent transplant, it's a rough road. But I remember what a psychologist told me after my stroke :Don't look at what you've lost, look at what you still have. A loving husband, two great sisters, a best friend, my new-found health, my 2 daughters, pets, hobbies, etc. I still have much left.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 3:58PM
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I too am sorry for what you are going through. But something you wrote struck me....."Don't look at what you've lost, look at what you still have"...those words say SO much!

When I look at what I have been going through I now realize that I to am not going to look at the past but what I have now and what the future holds for me. Thank you for that!!!!!

your residnent DJ

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Jannie, I just read your post and all the others offering comfort, good thoughts, and good wishes for things to come. I would like to add my prayers, thoughts, and good wishes, too, for you and your family. The advice you were given by the psychologist is some we all need to remember.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:04PM
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I know it's no consolation - but sending hugs.
I had the opposite problem - got tons of stuff (as in we had 3 big, big yard sales, plus stuff went to auction, plus stuff we couldn't let go of my sister and I took home). I am weeding through that take home stuff now and it was and still is hard to decide what to keep.
It's possible your stuff was damaged if your mom was a hoarder.
You might not think it quite the same, but I would look for a wedding topper just like yours on E-Bay or advertise locally. Or post photos here...and maybe we can find one for you.
I guarantee the memories will stay the same. Every now and then I run into something similar to what mom owned (at the Goodwill) years ago. It touches my heart and then I set it back on the shelf. Even ceramics will have me turning them upside down and looking for her initials.
I have a worse time deciding to do with the bit of money I got..mom worked hard for what she had.
Keep an eye on unclaimed property in the state where your mom lived. It's possible she has money or insurance coming to her.
Hugs, the loss of a parent is terrible. I think you have the right attitude though. Bless you...

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Sending you hugs and best wishes for remembering all of your good times with your mom and family.

I rather know how you feel......my DH's son embezzled everything my husband had before he died....so nothing left for me. I finally came to terms with myself and forgave his son...but I will admit that it was a bitter pill to swallow. DH had so many plans for us...but now it is only me...and I have found that life goes on....I do have my wonderful children who love and give my so much enjoyment. Although it would have made my life so much easier right now to have that money, I will make it...I am a survivor! Hugs!!!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:40PM
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As to the house, contents and any finances...legally, you never had an inheritance.
You mentioned in your last post that the final blow is that you were expecting money, cash. There was none left, it was spent by your mother for her support and the son who took care of her until she died.
The best inheritance is fond memories.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Hi Kathy, (good name - our daughter carries the longer version),

If I may make a suggestion ...

... you refer to wondering what use to make of the not large inherited money coming from your mother, for which she'd worked hard and saved, probably in small amounts, over time.

What with bank accounts, and GICs or bonds paying peanuts these days ... and annuities more or less in the same ball park, if you have the stomach for dealing with some fluctuations in value, usually not large, and later recovered, maybe pick a quality stock and buy some shares. Especially if you expect to have the fund operate over a number of years: that makes short-term price variations of much less consequence.

To have an account with a regular broker that offers advice, usually they'll charge a hundred or two per transaction when buying and also later when selling.

If you don't need advice, you can set up an account with a discount broker and probably make a trade for somewhere in the neighbourhood of $30.00.

If the amount is rather small, and you have some funds available that you don't expect to need for a while, maybe add some of your own money to it.

If you rather need some ongoing income from it, try to choose a stock that pays a decent dividend, plus one that has a record of increasing the amount fairly regularly.

If you know someone who's a fairly shrewd investor, possibly they could make a worthwhile suggestion as to a quality stock (or two ... or three, for some diversification - but you'll pay a fee per transaction).

Some folks like to buy mutual funds, but most of them charge a fee, or if not now but deferred until you sell, on a declining amount, often the annual management fee that they charge may be higher.

I bought some stock-market-based mutual funds about 25 years ago, and while a number of U.S. funds charge about 1.5% annually to manage the fund, in Canada they usually charge 2.5% or more.

Over 25 years, that amounts to about 60% ... and, as/(if?) the value increases, the dollar amount of the annual fee increases, as well.

I bought shares in a Canadian bank 46 years ago for $4.00 and change, paying about 10 - 12 cents annual dividend, and could have sold them in 2007 for $107. each, paying me $3.08 per year (taxed in Canada at a much lower rate).

They were involved with the U.S. financial fiasco a few years ago - share price dropped to $40., since recovered to about $80.00 (and now paying $3.76 tax-advantaged dividend per year).

And I haven't paid a mutual fund manager a penny, over those 46 years.

About 85% of mutual funds don't grow any faster than the segment of the market in which they operate: partly because of the annual management expense.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 5:01PM
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