My Mom died 4 years ago. She and my father had divorced after 20 years of marriage and she was remarried to an ex-great uncle in law on my father’s side of the family. I am an only child. Her husband also had two grown children and three grandchildren, who of course were my cousins.
Two weeks before my mother died I was visiting her on a vacation as we lived far from one another. Mom had been not been in the best health for years and always talked about how she wanted this item to go to that sister and this one that that nephew and this one to me. She sat me down on this trip and told me what personal effects were to go where in detail. She told me what items she no longer had, etc. She also told me that she had made detailed lists and her husband was aware of how her personal effects were to be divided. They didn’t have much in the way of money, etc., and that was all to be left to him. This was fine with me as I didn’t want it or need it.
My mother collected everything. She had a cookie jar collection that was worth thousands of dollars; an avid photographer she had a large camera collection of both new and old equipment. During their 20 years of marriage my father lavished my mother with all kinds of jewelry.
Needless to say when the time came to deal with the situation I offered to help my mother’s husband divide up her things. His response was that he just couldn’t deal with it right now and would take care of it; he knew how and where she wanted her things to go.
In the meantime he held an estate auction and sold most of her things. He didn’t know or didn’t care which things were supposed to go where. When I picked up my things, most of it was stuff she collected to sell at flea markets and garage sales, not her personal items. I questioned him and he said that he still had all of her things and that it was too difficult for him to just empty his house of her things and when he passed the rest of the items would be distributed. Her siblings instead of receiving entire collections as they were supposed to, received one or two items.
He died two years ago and all of his property was split between his children. As you can imagine this caused a great family strain as I’m still related to those people by blood on my father’s side. My inquiries have gone unanswered. My mothers things are gone, as well as most of the childhood items of mine that she kept.
While I did not have the added stress some have of fighting over a real property inheritance, I think often it’s the other things that cause the biggest fights. Momentos, photo albums, etc.
The attorney I contacted basically told me I had no rights unless I wanted to take her husband to court (while he was still alive) over her insurance proceeds. Needless to say I declined as that wasn’t what I wanted.
This book is a great idea and I’m ordering a copy for myself. I wouldn’t want to put anyone else through that.