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Carolyn Hax: Give inheritance equally to grandkids

Hi, Carolyn: My mother passed away a few months ago.

She and my only sibling were on the outs for the past 25 years. I was placed on all of my mother’s accounts, as well as on her condominium. Before she passed she verbally instructed me that my sibling was to get nothing, and that I distribute money to the grandchildren.

I sent a nice note with the checks to my sibling’s children saying their grandmother wanted them to have this in her memory.

I eventually phoned my sibling to verify that the checks were received. This brought back memories of my mother’s complaints that she never received acknowledgements for birthday checks and such.

Now the condominium is going to sell, and we are talking more money than the several thousand dollars I distributed from the savings account.

Maybe I am being unfair, or overly sensitive, but honestly I have no interest in sending my sibling’s children any more money. I sense (maybe unfairly) that sending them more will still not achieve my mother’s goal in having them remember her. – In a Quandary Here

Decide how much you’d like to give your own kids, and give the other grandchildren the same.

Your mother instructed you to give money to the grandchildren, and hoped it would secure her memory. I see the instructions as your business, but not the hope. Your concern about the kids’ indifference might be valid, and you were indeed given leeway to decide how much to give, but I don’t think, ethically, it’s your place to decide whether these grandkids showed sufficient gratitude to meet your mother’s definition of “remember.”

They might have no idea you’re deciding how much they receive; they might believe, understandably, that their grandmother decided the amount and therefore would be the one to (not) thank if they could.


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