A few years before he died, my father spoke to me about his estate and eventual death. He made a few specific points

1. He did not want any kind of funeral, and certainly not a Catholic one. He didn't want any obituary printed in the paper. He was to be cremated and buried. We assumed it was because he was not religious at all (even though his family was Catholic), and had ex-girlfriends he didn't want showing up to the ceremony. He reiterated this a couple times in the following months, and made me promise I wouldn't give him a funeral.

2. He told me his trust was to be split up 4 ways upon death (his 3 children and his girlfriend would be the heirs). The portfolio was to be liquidated (turned into cash --and it is like 5 million+) and distributed to the heirs upon estate settlement.

After he died last week, my sister-in-law announced that there will be a large (and expensive) Catholic funeral that will be open to the public (obituary in several newspapers, etc.). One of my father's girlfriends, whom a number of people in the family despises (she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from him when he was suffering from dementia, among other things) is invited to the funeral, and will be in the front row. I expressed disagreement with this, but my sister-in-law told me to "get over it".

My sister, who is the executer of the estate, wants to hold on to the investments in my father's portfolio until estate settlement, and then distribute the stocks, bonds, etc. in kind to the heirs. She says she can do this as it is a better idea than liquidation and distributing cash.

So I have a sister and SIL directly going against the wishes of my father. The SIL claims he had a "come to Jesus" moment on his death bed and agreed to a funeral. I wasn't there and never saw it. While he was alive, my dad was dismissive, if not hostile, towards religion.

Should I even show up to this funeral? Am I overreacting here?

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Dear Silas,
Sometimes we focus our energies on details when we want to avoid pain. I believe this may be what is happening right now. Losing a parent, especially when you are close, is devastating. It shakes us to the core at so many levels. Our own mortality comes to question. We are, after all, next in line. Sometimes we must take that grief a "bite at a time" It is just too much to accept all at once.
Take deep breathes, long showers (great place to cry btw) and don't over complicate this. Your dad is gone. A small funeral or a big, showy Catholic funeral with all the bells and whistles is not going to really affect your dad. You were there for him, that is what is important. If you feel keeping your word to him is necessary, refrain from attending. But, most importantly, take care of yourself. It is what he would want. I'm sorry for your loss.
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There might be tax benefits to splitting the portfolio the way your sister suggests. Your dad might not have been thinking of taxes as he planned to leave. I can't imagine he'd have said "And give as much of the portfolio to the government in taxes as you can!"

If your dad wrote his preferences for disposition of his body in a will or other legal document, you might be able to at least arrange it so that his remains do not attend the funeral. If he didn't, it's up to his next of kin to decide. (Just saying- sister the in law isn't exactly on the top of that list.)

But I don't think you can prevent someone from putting an obituary in the paper or having a Mass for a dead relative and inviting whoever they like. These rituals really are for the people who survive and it sounds like your SIL wants to make a big "respectful" show of sending him off- whether it reflects any actual respect for him and his beliefs or not. It's for other people to say "Didn't they do a nice job with their dad's funeral?" I don't believe his deathbed conversion story, do you?

My advice to you is to really think how you want to celebrate your dad's life and mark his passing and do that. If the church/Trixie the Temptress/ and watching a bunch of crocodile tears are not what you want to do, I would not go. Your SIL will get over it.

And YOU did not give him a funeral so you kept your promise to him. I'm very sorry for your loss.
Helpful Answer (15)

Sounds like your father did not document his “no funeral” wishes.

Even if it’s not legally binding, a notarized document (authored by Dad) tucked in with Dad’s POA/DNR/will/5 Wishes would have sent an unequivocal statement to the immediate family.

As for the trust, the parameters of disbursement can be written into the trust paperwork. For whatever reason, your father did not do that.

You are stuck with word-against-word during a highly emotional time. And it sucks.

I’m not attacking. Just applying the exhausting, miserable (and at times, insulting) lessons I learned from my own journey with elders who talked out of both sides of their mouth.

Who assigned fiscal/legal responsibility to a certain family member for “political reasons,” but expressed different wishes to the trusted(?) confidant..... the softie..... the listener.

Who perhaps thought they were flattering the “chore-minder” relatives(s) by using words that were magically (?) supposed to supersede what the elder already legally committed to according to.

Good intentions or not, the end result is clashing expectations — that surface at a highly emotional time.

I wish you peace, Silas.

You are not alone in your frustration.

Over the past 5 years, the elders in my life set off so much “wouldda-couldda-shouldda” with their decisions AND their non-decisions. It was an end I never saw coming. More than once.

For many of us, our inheritance includes memories that are colored by hypocrisy.

It’s very difficult to reset from an experience like this. Be kind to yourself. (((big hugs)))
Helpful Answer (14)
janeinspain Dec 2018
This is great advice and oh how it resonates with me BlackHole. I’ve heard a lifetime of complaints about my brother, received the distress calls during his outbursts, observed his antisocial behavior and bad dealings, but when it finally got so bad that I needed to take action suddenly I am the troublemaker. I l’ve learned (too late it seems) that I should have kept a polite distance from it all much sooner and urged my parents to take action on their concerns themselves. Very hard lessons and yes very hard to “reset” as you said. I hope you are finding some peace.
Honestly, I don't think you're really going to be able to do anything about the funeral. The money is probably already spent and plans in full motion. Whether you should attend is really a personal decision. Even if it is just for appearances, and to keep the lines of communication open about the estate, it may be worth attending. You're probably going to have weigh the pros and cons on this one. It may be useful as a fact-finding mission.

It would probably be wise to talk to a Trust and Estate attorney to protect your rights under the Trust. They can also keep pressure on the Trustee to ensure the trust is administered correctly and pursuant to the terms of the Trust.
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jacobsonbob Dec 2018
I agree--if the OP doesn't go to the funeral, it will appear to show a lack of respect to people who attend who don't know the situation described above. If anybody asks, the OP can say very tactfully that "this is more than what Dad had in mind". As you have said, it will be a useful "fact-finding mission". There is the saying "if you're not at the meeting table, then you're on the menu".
Just my thoughts here,, but your father is gone.. he has no care left as to what really happens now with a funeral. Funerals are for the living, his family and friends,, who may want to say good bye, see the family. share their memories. Yes you should go, and stay as long as you feel you can. Don't let anger cloud your memories of his life, you may talk to some of his friends who have wonderful memories to share. Maybe your family feels the need to have a funeral to "pay respect" to him? They also loved him, as did his friends.
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Linda22 Dec 2018
At my dad's memorial, one of the most comforting moments was when a co-worker of Dad's told me stories about my dad. There are these unexpected jewel moments.
Keep in mind that your father is gone, he does not care any longer - in many respects, funerals are for the living. I'd go and keep the peace. And pray for his soul.
Helpful Answer (11)

Overreacting! Have you considered selling tickets?

Don't worry about the estate. As executor, your sister will be obliged by law to follow the directions of the will; and anything your father didn't put in his will, even if he discussed possibilities with you that aren't in it, your father can't have been especially anxious about.

As to the funeral... you must please yourself. If you feel truly affronted on your father's behalf, it might be better not to go. But bearing in mind that funerals are for the living and not the dead, if there are other family members whose feelings you care about then you might be of real help as a source of support and an example of dignity.

I once - under extreme provocation, in my defence - was driven to tell my sister in law that if she did not leave my house I would attack her. (She left. My knuckles are unbroken). So I am a fine one to ask; but what dealings will you have to have in future with someone who saw fit to tell you to "get over" your misgivings about your own father's funeral?
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YsLadyMN Dec 2018
I agree with these sentiments..... do what feels right for you. I'd wonder what he put in writing.... but other people are outside our control. Other than threat of bodily harm response.. lol.

Given the decisions S & SIL have already made, presumably within legal bounds. All you can decide is what you're going to do, which doesn't include changing it without legal proof ir documents.

Mat you find peace somewhere in the drama.
You go to the funeral for closure.

You are NOT overreacting here - you are hurting and confused.

Whether you go to the funeral or not is entirely up to you.

RE: While he was alive, my dad was dismissive, if not hostile, towards religion.

My sweet Ray lost his faith when he lost his baby back in 1953, she was less than a year old. He couldn't accept a God who would take a baby from him.
The day he was passing, his first wife came for him, his older brother came for him and from the way he was looking all over the ceiling, I would say a host of people showed up to welcome him home. Just FYI, he said, "I know you, you're my first wife" and he called his brother by name. I pray your father too was met and welcomed home.

My father was of the Jewish faith - and I know for fact he saw my mother - she came for him just before he passed. I will always remember the joy I saw on his face when he saw her - he passed minutes later.
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We see that which we want to see. I saw my living husband one last time after his death and know it was a vision from inside my head, not from heaven.
In the end, whether to go or not go might be decided at the last second, while standing in front of the funeral facility. That's where the rubber meets the road, as my kids used to say.
It will work itself out and from the sound of it, there will be such a large group there, no one will miss you, unless a viper makes a point of telling on you.
Hi, I hear ya! But by you trying to do what you know your dad wanted, holding on tight to that, will do nothing but scar his memory. Every time you think back of dads last days and the way he was interned will be this resentful, bitter pill for the rest of YOUR life. I come from a family where I now have a saying " the fight starts at the wake" . From the funeral director, to the clothes, to who showed up, who didnt show up, who wore what, who talked to who, who didnt talk to who, who did the most , who didnt do enough...then the family money fight, complete with lawyer and screaming matches. I sit there in amazement watching them rip at each other, turning into small animals biting at each other. This is about your dad and the way you feel about his passing. YOUR memories, YOUR feelings. Dont let it go, keep them. Its about your relationship with him and his passing. Let them have their way, as petty as it may seem to you. Its not worth disgracing dad or yourself to go to that level of human nature.

When the money gets distributed, do the same. I had 4 aunts and uncles- totally divided the family. Never to speak again. Their mother told one kid this,another on that and when she died THE FIGHT STARTED AT THE WAKE and after they all got their lawyers, the estate was gobbled up, and they ended up splitting $ 13K. after a 3 year battle....which should have been about 280K to split in the beginning.

Maintain your composer and dignity, keep your dads memories close to your heart, because they are between HIM AND YOU, thats one thing no one can control. I know you must just want to scream, but your dads gone, move into the phase of missing him, loving him and still respect him. There are 2 roads for a reason, take the higher road. Im sorry you lost your dad, take care of yourself. Best.
Helpful Answer (10)

The funeral is for the family left behind, not the person who has passed away. Since it seems your father had the assets to pay for it, I would let it slide. The decision to hold the assets until the estate gets through probate is actually how it is supposed to work anyway. The executor really can't just liquidate everything immediately and distribute it. There is a legal process.

Go to the funeral. Be civil. Be kind. Smile and be gracious. Nothing to be gained from being otherwise. Take the high road.
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