I've been helping my parents downsize and was going through their files and saw one with my name and my siblings on it. I looked through it and I was supposed to have inherited an art collection almost 45 years ago from a great grandmother. It has been on my parent's walls all this time and they never told me. Lately they have been making a big deal of inviting people over from various museums planning to donate it. I poked around the rest of the filing cabinets and my grandfather had left me money in a trust that my parents did not tell me about that I was supposed to have gotten when I was 30. They did hand over the reigns to a modest investment account when I was 40 but never mentioned my grandfather and acted as if it were a gift from them. There was another grandmother that I was very close to that left me nothing, which I figured was her choice but what if she did?

I feel so sad and ill right now and my chest feels like it's ripping up. It's part knowing that my relatives wanted these things for me and cared and I spent all this time not knowing. It's also the money. So much of my life has been spent struggling financially when I had plenty of money and assets all along. I've lived nasty places where you hear gunshots at night and if put down a white piece of paper on the moldy carpet you can see fleas jumping around on it. I've passed up so many opportunities because I was being safe. I've taken and stayed at jobs working for awful people because of a good health insurance plan. My kids could have had so many more opportunities. I've always been the "good" one who followed the rules and worked hard and never complained out loud.

I have poured so much of my life and love into my parents. The kicker is that I am my parents' (unpaid) primary caregiver. Right now this means making sure they go to their appointments, the house is clean, fridge stocked, their dog goes to the vet, the yard looks good, I visit daily and cook for them often. I have not talked with them about the inheritances. I'm fairly certain my mother has early dementia and my father is completely disabled and can barely feed himself though his mind is in better shape than my mom's. I cannot look them in the eyes any more. I cannot stand going to their house, but I do. They ask me if I am cross and I blame other things. I've been told my father has a year left. He suffers physically and takes a lot of pain meds.

I look at my own kids and I cannot fathom what my parents did. What would you do?

Legal counsel might be appropriate here as well. Before you go ripping valuable artwork off their walls, it might be a good idea to have the courts agree that you have a legal right to do so, and in fact have an officer of the court standing by to make sure nothing unpleasant happens when you do. And that, in fact, they don't try to stop you, call the cops on you and then squirrel it away while you regroup. Basically they have stolen what is yours and you need to get an injunction against them to keep them from selling it or otherwise disposing of it. Don't tip your hand by alerting them to your intentions. I understand you not wanting to look at them. It's not shame on your part; it's rage, contempt, disgust and accusation you don't want them to see. I'm sorry for the hurt and betrayal you must be feeling as well. I hope you get this resolved in a satisfactory way.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to DesertGrl53

I agree with Margaret about the practicalities: you'd better consult a lawyer immediately about how to draft a "to whom it may concern" letter telling all parties that title to the art collection is yours and your parents have no legal rights to it. Pronto pronto - do it tomorrow.
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Reply to Countrymouse

Oh sweetie!


Honestly, what has happened to you is the storyline of a three volume Victorian novel.

First of all, you complete your research.
Then, you master the information.
Then, you decide whether or not you can forgive them.

Meanwhile, as your parents are already aware that there is a problem, and there certainly is a problem that nobody could realistically be expected to keep under wraps, you are going to have to look them in the eye and say "your parents' wills have come to light. Is there anything you want to tell me about that?"

It is your parents who should be having trouble looking you in the eye. YOU have nothing to be ashamed of.
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Reply to Countrymouse

Make copies of all the documentation you can find, take the original documents away and keep them somewhere very safe. Remove the art collection and take it home. Don’t give it back. This is going to provoke a confrontation. Tell it like it is, and present the copy documentation. Then ask about the trust fund from your grandfather. Theoretically you should be entitled to the capital plus interest at least from the time you were 30, but getting that may be more difficult to recoup.

Don't bother about asking them why they did what they did. The reason is obvious, and the discussion will go nowhere. Avoid anything emotional, so far as you can, and stick to the facts.

Are you an only child? Is there anyone else in the wings with their hand out for an inheritance? If so, it would be good to contact them and see if you can come to some agreement. Also consider if your parents still have assets and if you understand the contents and location of their wills. You may need to be talking to their executor in advance about your justified claims on their estate. If they have real estate, you might want to put a lien on it to secure your claim - see a lawyer if so.

It would be good if you separate in your head these money/ asset issues from the way you feel about your parents’ position now in old age. I’ve been there – the dreadful father who poisoned my youth was not the helpless old man at the end. If you can, pursue your legal rights while continuing to care for these old people. Two separate boxes in your head! If you can do this, you may be able to continue to care for them as people while dealing with the legalities of what you are owed.

You have my sympathy in a dreadful situation, where it is impossible to forgive. Just do what you can, for yourself and for them.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

I don't know if you should confront your parents now or wait. But this I do know, keep the paperwork, everything that has you name on it. If or when you do decide to confront them do it with copies of the paperwork that way if they get it from you, you still have the original paperwork. You will not have a leg to stand on without it.

Actually thinking about it, I think I would take a copy of the paperwork that states the picture on the wall was left for me & walk in their house and take the picture right off the wall. If my parents say something I would show them the paperwork. But hey that's just me!

It really sucks when you believe that a parent has your best interest at heart just to find out that he/she was just looking out for themselves. That is a feeling I wouldn't wish on anyone.

I'm with Sendhelp, they are getting the picture appraise.

May God give you strength to fight for what is yours.

Good Luck
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Shell38314

Find out more. Keep the original paperwork.
They are likely getting appraisals, not donating the art work.

Are they narcissists?

Never confront a narcissist, unless you want to see them scorch the earth beneath your feet. imo.

Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to Sendhelp

I say ask them about it. Mention that when you helped them downsize, you came across those files and state that it was wrong to withhold that kind of stuff from you. Try not to accuse and it might be difficult to do that. Would I be livid about that stuff, you have no idea how furious I would be about it. If they used some of that money that should have gone to you for their own gain, ask them why did they feel the need to do it. Pull back on some of the care giving to deal with your emotions.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to Evermore99
Sendhelp Nov 25, 2018
Yes, pulling back on caregiving, maybe even taking a vacation!
I think I'd take the original paperwork that you found to an attorney.

Why are you care-giving for them? Did you think they were destitute? That they could not afford to pay their own way?

Have you ever been to therapy?
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to BarbBrooklyn

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