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Mom has moved out of her large home into a smaller duplex and agrees that she needs to get rid of some of her quite valuable heirlooms. Here's the trouble: Her favorite child (though she would never admit that there is a favorite) has 5 children while my other 3 siblings and I each have 2 children. She insists that the child with 5 children get more heirlooms because he/she has more children to pass them on to. When my dad was living, he went out of his way to be TOTALLY fair to all 5 of his offspring in sharing the business and financial assests that he built in his lifetime. I think he would be very unhappy about the way my mom wants to handle things. However, most of the heirlooms of value were passed on to my mom since she was an only child and only grandchild and she says that they are hers to give to whomever she wants. I think that when she married my dad, everything that they owned separately was then owned jointly and not really "just hers." The 4 offspring with 2 children each are feeling very slighted and even less important than our sibling's 5 children. To rub even more salt in the wound, this favored siblilng was the prodigal child who caused our parents excessive grief when he/she was much younger. In addition, this favored child thinks nothing of feeding Mom the sob story about how he/she doesn't have enough money to bankroll his/her kids' educations, travels and toys. Mom willingly donates to the cause. Thanks to the good example set by our dad, the remainder of us have learned to live within our means and would only ask for help in case of a dire emergency (which we have never had to do). I know that Biblically we should be gald that our errant sibling has come back and has straightened out his/her live (and we are all glad of that), but in my mind, the party celebrating the prodigal's return was over a long, long time ago. Every thing that I have read about the division of belongings says "First Generation First" meaning the children (without their spouses). Grandchildren get what the children do not want. We just want to be treated fairly. I was even thinking of asking the family attorney to intervene on our behalf. Any ideas on how to handle this?

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JaneThom, True, the mother can give what she wants to whomever she wants. But this is about leaving a legacy of peace. That is why most lawyers will tell you not to leave out a child and not to give more to one than another. Just divide everything between your children and leave an even playing field. Because in the end, this is the legacy you leave. Why make it more divisive just because "you can".

When my mother passes, according to her, her money will be split two ways. Then the money will pass to my three girls and my brother's one son. Now the son is going to get way more in the end, unless my brother blows it all.

The rule of passing assets to your children is for a reason. It is the intent you leave behind for all to be equal and if the children don't like that, then too bad, you have done your best.

No one wants to be left out, most don't want to see a sibling get more, especially if they are the favorite. And also, why would any loving parent want to just give away their assests because they can. Everything I have will go to my girls. And I would never want to make one feel less loved over material things. So do I agree with the "First Generation First", yes. This has been a tried and true method of doing things fairly.
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Boomer, it is up to the mother even if all the children agree on what they want. Mother is not bound to honor their wishes. If all of them agree on the First Generation First rule, Mother can still give what she wants to the grandchildren and ignore the children. She can sell the items and use the money herself. She can give the items to the Salvation Army.

If my children came to me and told me what they decided I should do with my property I'd be polite and listen, serve them tea and cookies, and then do exactly what I decided I wanted to do.

Parents are NOT obligated to let their children dispense the parents' property. The very notion that children are entitled to tell their parents what to do with the parents' property is just plain offensive.
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The best way, I have seen, do deal with this type of situation is to have the children agree on what they see as fair. With this in mind, the kids talk to the parent and the parent will usually comply with the wishes of the consensus, especially if the child who was to benefit the most, asks for fairness.

Unfortunately, if the "preferred" child, or the rest of the kids can't agree, it is a matter up to your mother. The law backs her up as to protect her personal rights and wishes. I hope it works out. These things are so hard.
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I don't really blame the children. Often there are old family dynamics that surface toward the end of life. "Mom liked you better" type things. The children do have to stop and think, though, that aging and dying is not about them. And materials are ephemeral and in the end meaningless. I think the greatest enrichment would come if the family could come together to share a lot of love and good feeling. That is worth more than anything else and would be an extra good inheritance.
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Sounds like some 'undue influence' and greed going on to me. Why don't you have an auction and let each person buy what they actually want at a fair price. Why should mom 'give away' anything? So tired of family members wanting stuff given to them at someone else's expense, namely the parent they are supposedly caring for.
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Many families go through this. Some children decide against having any kids, while others breed like rabbits. Gift-giving times always see the bulk of resources going to the rabbits. It is okay, because it is the parent's money. It is just money and it is just stuff. As I am getting older, I am realizing that we can't take these things with us, so it really doesn't matter.

Grandmothers want to give things to their grandchildren. Sometimes women are better grandmother than they are mothers. There is really no right or wrong here. Would it feel good for a grandmother to give less to a grandchild that came from the rabbit clan?

Chances are that, young people being like they are, they might not even want the heirlooms. However, if your mother wants to gift the items to the grandchildren, it is her right. I hope that everyone will remember that it is just stuff and not a measure of love... except that your mother is wanting to show her love for each grandchild by giving them something.
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Oh good grief...it is all about the things collected. Why don't you just let Mom do what she wants...perhaps putting them in storage or selling now to fund whatever care she might need in the future would be the only fair way to do this. Mom benefits completely by the sale and the family is not bothered by who has what and how many.

I took one item from my parents home and let the other 2 and their children fight over the rest.
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The heirlooms are your mother's to give to whomever she wants. She can skip your generation entirely and give them directly to her grandchildren. (First Generation First? Says who?) She can donate them to a worthy cause (or an unworthy cause, for that matter.) She can sell them and splurge on an around-the-world cruise for herself (and maybe a new boyfriend). Or she can put them in storage and sell them in the future to help pay for her own care.

The problem I see here is your sense of entitlement. These were not your father's heirlooms -- they did not come down through his great-grandfather. How he would wish to see them distributed is not relevant. Who "deserves" them is not relevant. Your mother does not need to consider who was a good kid and who wasn't, who caused her grief and who didn't, or who is most fiscally responsible now. Her assets, her decisions.

By your reasoning of what is "fair," Mother should spend the same amount on Christmas presents for each family. If she spends $200 per family on the children, some grandkids get $40 gifts and some get $100 gifts. Doesn't sound fair to me. That is certainly not how I treat my grandchildren.

The concept of "TOTALLY FAIR" isn't as absolute as you make it sound. Your father had one way of looking at it. Your mother has another way. You and your sibling with the 5 children have different ways of looking at it, I'll bet. But the only view that counts concerning the heirlooms is your mother's -- because these are your mother's possessions.

Mother is not causing strife, as I see it. Your sense of entitlement and your expectation that your rules should prevail is causing the strife. Get over it.
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Likely you may not care for this response but ... It is your mother's to do as she wishes. Please do not lose sight of what lies ahead though. Your mother is very likely to need a lot of care, which should be shared among her children. You all need to work together. I agree with the post above, suggesting a mediator but not so much to deal with the disposition of heirlooms as to deal with the road ahead. Does someone have her power of attorney? Health care proxy? know her wishes regarding advance directives? Are these things all in order and somewhere people can find them in the event she declines? If you think the fighting is bad now, it will only escalate down the road if these matters are not dealt with in an orderly fashion.

I don't mean to minimize the unfairness of your mother's intended distribution method. Perhaps someone can communicate to her that she is creating a lot of strife among you all by her actions and that you want to be working together as a family. Also, consider the possibility that she plans to be fair down the road (and yes I recognize that may be a slim possibility!). It sounds as though the family has the means to engage the services of a talented third party to help sort this out so that you can work together down the road, when things get tough.

Best of luck.
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Maybe you do need a mediator of some sort, someone who is impartial to the whole drama, and will be fair. But if mom isn't willing to do that, then I don't know what you can do since she's the one with the power. Does she have a friend that can talk to her? Maybe someone OTHER than one of her kids that she respects enough to listen to?
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