Death is already difficult.
But the politics that arise from inheritance can easily make it worse. Legal battles ensue, and people show their truest colors.
u/treoni was curious and came to Reddit wanting to hear about their trials and tribulations with inheritance:
[Serious] People who won/inherited a lot of money, what are your horror stories from people begging for your money?
Here are some of those scary stories.
My grandmother had an education fund made for me and put money in it every month. I was pretty young and my mom was poor and wanted to use that money to buy pot and cigarettes and other stuff. She kept bugging me and bribing me with stuff. I told my grandmother who made sure my mom couldn't access the account.
My parents did something similar with my college fund, but mine came from paper routes that I had. I started at the earliest legal age, either 9 or 10, with only 30 customers at first, but the size of my routes grew over time. At my height, I was delivering 3 different papers to ~350 total customers across 3 different neighborhoods. A lot of people subscribed to multiple papers, so in total I was pulling down between $1000 and $1500 a month including tips.
My parents took half at the time for "room and board" and forced me to put other half into a college fund. I figured that was still a lot of money and the interest would help it grow for the future (I was naive about bank interest rates), so I kept at the job. This involved waking up by 3:30 AM every day to wrap newspapers so I could be out the door by 4:30 AM, where I would walk the route (it was too much weight for me to balance on a bike) and have them all delivered in three trips by the time the school bus arrived at 9:00. After school I walked around doing collections, and on the weekends I was going door-to-door offering subscriptions.
I don't know exactly when it happened, but some time after I started high school I called my bank to check on what I had believed to be a substantial savings account from ~5 years of work, and it had less than $20 in it. My parents had raided it and never told me, and then just started routing my money to their own accounts. I told the paper companies I was quitting that week.
I did start underreporting my tips after I found out my parents wouldn't let me keep anything any other way, so I did pocket $20-$50 a month. They caught me a couple times and took the money, but that just taught me to hide it better. Still doesn't seem like it was worth all the effort, though.
Only child here, although I'm now in my 70s. I inherited a great deal of money from a bachelor great-uncle who I barely knew. We're talking 7 figures. I told no one, but my great-uncle's attorney did, the bastard. Long lost cousins, most of whom I hadn't seen since childhood began pestering, then hassling, then harassing me for money. Some of them would show up at my home at 3am and ring my doorbell for an hour. One actually broke into the house while I was there! I pressed harassment charges against three of them, had the one arrested for breaking and entering, and got a court order to have the other two stay at least 100 yards away from me. I legally changed my name and moved to a remote area of a southern state about ten months later.
Family coming out of the woodwork threatening to sue for the money. Family have "surprise" visits and looked like they thought I hid the money in the house somewhere. No amount of telling them we inherited less than 500$ would make them go away. They did not believe it. Now they all just hate us and I no longer get invited to family outings.
Parents Ruining Things
I won around £5,000 on a football (soccer) accumulator a few years ago. Not a lot really, but a lot for a 23 year old.
To cut a long story short, because I didn't pay off my father's credit card debt with it he fell out with me and pretty much tried to ruin my life. He told my then partner I had a gambling problem (I didn't, unless spending £5 a week on football constitutes a problem), got my mother to call my work to tell them I had a problem which resulted in work getting a counsellor in to talk to me, and basically preyed on my family's love for me by making them all make me feel horrendously guilty for ever placing a bet in the first place. It all reached a head when I came home to my partner in tears and my mother and father sat comforting her on the sofa, proceeding to tell me if she didn't know if she could trust me, and 'why couldn't I just admit how long I'd been gambling for'. I physically removed my father from my house that night and told him to never darken my doorstep again. All over five grand!
Parents are sometimes toxic and an awful influence on your life. I cut him out because of it (which sadly has meant my relationship with my mother has taken a hit) but it was honestly the best thing I ever did. Don't be afraid of doing so if they add nothing but negativity to your life.
Something For Nothing
My Great-Aunt and godmother was a lesbian. Her partner - my Auntie Kitty - had been with her since the 1950's, when my godmother moved to New York. Auntie Kitty was disowned by her family when it came out she was with a woman. My godmother died when I was 12 and left my Auntie Kitty everything in her will, which made things strained with my dad's family, though my dad and one of his brothers still talked to her.
I moved to New York at 18 for school and, knowing no one else in the city, we became close. She was thrilled that I wanted to have a relationship with her and spend time with her and didn't hesitate to think of her as my aunt, even though she technically wasn't. She was legit the greatest, and we spent holidays together and she would come to things I worked on and I knew all her friends and she knew mine. I basically spent a decade with her being like another grandmother to me.
She died a few months ago, and it sucks. I miss her a lot, to put it lightly, but she was in her 90's and lived a long life.
Thing was, she left everything to me. Now, I knew she had money - It was hard to miss - but I didn't know how much money she had. I ended up with a decent sized amount of cash and investments, a brownstone in the city, and a place in on the beach in the Carolinas.
Her family came out of the woodwork when she died, sniffing around for money and demanding I give them the beach house, or cash, or whatever. Her will states explicitly that they're not to receive anything from her estate, and it's all to go to me, but they're threatening to sue since 'they're sure she wanted to give them something' even though she hadn't talked to any of them in over half a century, and in some cases, had never met them.
On the opposite side of things, my dad's sisters and brothers are pissed they didn't get anything, because they'd occasionally send her a Christmas card. None of them view it as fair that I was given everything, when they were given nothing. None of them showed up to her funeral, none of them had properly seen her or talked to her in years except my dad. One of my aunts has gone so far as harassing my boyfriend since he's apparently only in it for the money, despite the fact that he had a better relationship with her than she did, and had to help me plan her funeral.
My grandmother has dementia and her husband is dying of cancer. They have over a million in assets that have been divided between 4 sons. One son is a mentally ill, junkie who has been in an out of jail. He has already been promised their house as his share of inheritance but he has been doing all he can to get more from his mother while her husband has been in the hospital slowly dying the last few months. He steals her credit cards, opens new ones in her name, and attempts to access their money through online banking.
My step-grandfather is trying to get her declared mentally incompetent to prevent my uncle from manipulating her finances but between his health issues and being in and out of the hospital it is proving difficult.
When her husband dies (which will unfortunately be soon), he plans on moving into their house (which he already sees as "his") and most likely milking my grandmother dry. The sad part is she has dementia and has no idea what is going on.
It Ain't Your Money
I had most of my college paid for through scholarships and a fund my parents set up when I was a baby. My roomate junior year would always bring this up as an excuse to not pay for things. Example: "well you have a college fund so you should pay for my dinner too" "I have to take out loans so you should pay for my rent this month." I ended up moving out and avoided her for the rest of my time at school
A few years ago we inherited some money from my husband's grandfather. My husband's brother & sister also inherited equal amounts. His sister, we had not spoken to in several years, emailed my husband and his brother asking for their portion of the inheritance because her part-time personal trainer job wasn't enough to keep funding her lifestyle. LOL.
I'll share my current nightmare that started right before my Mom died. My mother was an alcoholic who ended up dying of liver failure last May.
After my mom died we opened the estate with the state of PA to begin the process of going through her finances and transferring the deed from her house to me.
As soon as my info was registered with the state, every realtor came out of the woodwork to harass me about selling her property. I got it phone calls, letters, people showed up and wouldn't leave. We had to call the police multiple times on one realtor. I luckily had a great estate lawyer who would hit the people with C&Ds and follow up with the police when they continued to show up.
My mom had a townhome is a very very desirable neighborhood. It's an easy sale for any realtor but I was still surprised on the sheer number of realtors who harassed us about it.
We still have two realtors who stop by our house every once in awhile thank leave a business card. I have a sign stating that we are not selling taped to our door.
My mom doesn't call me anymore unless she wants something. Her requests vary: a house, a car, travel date, food money. If we don't give her what she wants, she sulks and has big, passive-aggressive tantrums. I wouldn't mind helping her every now and then, but she just uses people. It's never enough. Now that I'm no longer poor, I'm not her daughter, just another source of cash.
Good News For Once
I do estate valuations for various attorneys and such, just as a sideline, and for fun. Got a call to do one, there were two brothers, etc. The way I do it, you pay me up front (usually about $500 for small stuff), and I come in, make baseline valuations of personal property (not real estate), and give estimates based upon what the goods would (probably) realize at auction. Usually the big stuff is liquidated and divided monetarily, so I don't fool with that.
Went in with my usual blather about "If you people have one uncivil word, I will walk and your money will be forfeit" speech, and proceeded to do a round-the-grounds listing/eval with one of my people. They were following us around, smiling and making small talk. One of them had a wife, the other had a girlfriend, they were all very amicable. When we got done, they asked if I would look and see if their division of property was fair, as they had done it prior to our arrival. They indicated that Salarmy was coming the next day to pick up everything else. I looked at their lists, and they were each for things that the other didn't want, and the lists were equal to within exactly $10 of my estimates. The brother who had the $10 advantage got out his wallet and gave his brother two five dollar bills. The other brother said "I owe you $5 from lunch last week", and he gave one back. Then they told me that it was worth $500 to know that they were even and it wouldn't mess up their relationship. They called me about 2 weeks later, asking if I had cashed their check, as they were closing out the estate. I had torn it up, and told them so. They sent the money to the Wind River Tribal Youth Program. Haven't thought about that in years. Thanks, Reddit.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, my job took up a collection for me. They were very generous and it grew to a fair amount of money. Which we used through out my treatment so that we didn't worry about bills and what not. My sister found out about the money and began to ask for money, never once offering help. But always having a sob story about why she needed the cash. When lied and said the money was gone. She stopped calling altogether. Oh and when I was a toddler, my mom passed in a car accident. I had bonds given to me from family friends to help me later in life. My Aunt who adopted me cashed all the bonds before I even finished elementary school, leaving me with nothing.
My dad has two sisters. One of them was an out of control mess that after stealing and making her parents life hell they finally had to cut her out of their lives. My grandma died and she didn't even bother coming to the funeral. My grandpa ended up in a memory care facility which blew through the last of what they had saved up and then my dad and his other sister took over the payments. When he passed away they had paid over 70k combined for him to live in a nice facility for the last years of his life. After he died the mess of a sister suddenly showed up demanding her share of the inheritance assuming that it would be a large sum of money. They sent her a bill for 1/3 of the 70k.
My grandpa was pretty well off and he suddenly died of undiagnosed prostate cancer a decade or so ago. The kids from his second marriage immediately swooped in and started claiming everything as their's, despite us being just as close to him as they were. It ended with a lawsuit and the family being split in half, with us not regarding them as family anymore. We ended up getting basically nothing and I'm frankly not impressed with how it was handled by either side. It's really sad seeing people you've known your whole life acting like that and ruining decades of being family in a couple weeks.
Even more pathetic because it was so little money: Grandma lived off her pension after selling her house way cheap to Aunt. After she died, Other Aunt divided up her money and stuff, I think each grandkid got $1000, one piece of her inexpensive furniture, a few little things, none of it worth any money. But Cousin K, whose parents got a super cheap house that she keeps saying she wants, carried on about how she was promised everything. She wanted the ten year old freezer her sister with little kids got, she wanted the dishes, she wanted wanted wanted. Ten years later, I avoid talking to her because I'm sure I'll still hear about all of grandma's valuables that Other Aunt threw away. I think the rest of us should have just gone in together, said, "take one thing then someone else's turn" and we all would have left after round two and left the rest for Cousin K to take everything else and saved ourselves a lot of accusations.
A few years ago a family member was killed, my parents secretly sued the persons/company responsible and we were awarded millions in a settlement. To this day I haven't shared this info with anyone because it's very personal. We don't want anyone to think we profited from their death because that wasn't our intention. We wanted to make sure the spouse was cared for financially.
After about 2 years of my parents being involved in court, the settlement was finalized. During this time, my siblings spouse was cared for emotionally and financially by my family. After the case was settled, the spouse was awarded several million as one of the stipulations my parents set. Immediately after, they disappeared from our lives entirely. It was extremely disappointing to my family when that happened, especially considering all we had been doing to keep them going. Imagine having a son or daughter suddenly die and having to fight lawyers for years to give their spouse a happy life, only to have them take the money and run once it was all finished.
Yes my family did receive a rather large sum and we had a dinner on his birthday to which this news was shared with all the siblings. It was a shock learning why the spouse had completely cut us off, and that I'd suddenly become "rich" as a result of everything. It feels wrong and slightly embarrassing, but i'm sure my sibling would be proud that they could help the family after their death. Still, I'll never tell anyone what happened because I don't want my sibling's life story tarnished any further. I think everyone in my family feels the same, nothing has changed in our lives afterward. At first I felt extremely guilty spending a dime of that money, but over time I've learned to appreciated the opportunities that it has given me. All of us have continued down the same path as before, although my parents have been traveling a lot and I don't blame them one bit
No More Of This
I won a lawsuit settlement after almost dying in a fire. I was under 18 at the time of the incident but was 18 when it finally settled. My mother told me unless I gave her half of my settlement, I would have to find a new place to live. I was in my senior year of high school when this happened. She said she deserved it because she was the only one in my life who was always there for me. I didn't give her the money, she kicked me out and tried to keep some of my personal belongings not like I had much since everything was lost in the fire. We didn't talk for months until she randomly showed up at my house one day. She asked me for rent money and gave me some BS sob story. I wrote her a check for $5k hoping it'd maker her go away. It did for a time - she and I barely spoke until years later when I was pregnant. A few years ago I was in a bad car accident (hit by an 18 wheeler) and got some money. I told no one - especially my mom. She has insisted numerous times I was entitled to a settlement for it and should speak to a lawyer she found. She took it upon herself to talk to lawyers on my behalf - or tried to. I just ignored her for months until she finally gave it up.
Bridge Burning Smoke Signals
My aunt stole a large sum of money from me. When I turned 18 I was to get a check for 18 years of percap with interest. Six months before my 18th, she quit her job and started working at a small 5 location credit union. She asked me to move my accounts there to help her meet quotas since she just started and would do joint accounts so I could get the benifits too. Ten months later I thought she had a better job and was reaping the benifits when she started to remodel her house and spend her nights at the bar. I didn't think anything of it because she was my aunt and had a decent job. When I went to change banks because I was moving across the country she told me she already withdrew the money and I couldn't get it and since it was a joint account there was nothing I could do about it. While not fine the worst thing about it was that she claimed it was what my mother wanted and was in her will. Then when disproved said she deserved it more than me, and then eventually that because she did it in a legal way it was hers now. She convinced her boss that I was trying to ruin her life so I couldn't even go to them for help.
Eventually I got 60% of it back from a settlement but she burned all the bridges she could in the family. She would cut off any contact with people who asked what the problem was. Or would threaten to if they talked about it. Since she was getting free child care from her mom she said she would rather pay for childcare than listen to her mom talk about me. So my grandmother had to keep quiet or she would lose her other two grandkids and her last living daughter along with me because I was moving across the country. Total blindside.
I am fortunate that my father's family is well off. Everything is locked into trust funds since my grandparents death. Now my father has died I have control over my father's share. My uncle who is a weed dealing/smoking-in and out of jail- never held a job-dropkick-son of a loving women who always have him hand and brother to my father who tried to help support him even though he was sick for many years.
Anyways, I have withdrawn my share because that family sucks at financial management and I have reinvested it in my own trust, well uncle has started calling me monthly from jail asking for help with lawyers or to pay for something. He still has living brothers, but he thinks a girl three times younger than him should be supporting him because 'he can't get a job and I am family'. I feel nothing for the man who has thrown his life away and leeched off my father in his last years. I am glad though, better than him harassing my mum.