Father passed away, mother wants to change will, need advice!
This may take a while to explain, but please bear with me.
My father passed in January 2020. My mother seemingly waited until October to send my two siblings and I paperwork requesting to change the will. She needed our signatures to change it because we were listed. Let me explain in full detail:
Both my parents, from my perspective as the youngest child, were very humble Christian people. Greatly involved in Church, my father was head deacon in a pretty large church in a pretty good size college town. My mother was the leader of the women's ministry. My father wasn't a college graduate, but had great success in the auto industry, eventually owning his own dealership. He sold it and pursued the cattle business which was his passion. I grew up not knowing that my parents had any more money than typical middle class people - like I mentioned, they were humble people from my perspective.
I had a decent relationship with my father, I enjoyed spending time with him (although we all take our childhood and teenage years for granted). I was always a momma's boy though and had a better relationship with my mother.
At the age of 20, my parents found out that I am gay. I'm 27 now. When they found out they sat me down and told me that they would not and could not support the lifestyle choice I had chosen; they subsequently gave me an ultimatum and told me that either I change my ways, or they wouldn't support me going forward. At the time, I was in college, they were paying for my education and my apartment. I had just begun seeing someone who is now my husband and was really happy. Truly happy for finally being open and able to express myself, not closeted and hoping (and praying) for my feelings to go away.
I knew that I couldn't change my sexuality, which is what my parents wanted. They wanted to reconcile me back to the good little Christian boy who they thought I should be. I couldn't do that. And so, I told them that was fine if they chose that. I wasn't going to argue with them... I made the decision to drop out of college instead of taking out loans. I found a job and moved in with the guy who is now my husband. I never turned back. I didn't think about how my parents were treating me financially. I just looked forward for myself. Throughout the years I told myself I didn't have any resentment toward my parents, and that whatever their decision was, it was their decision. When my parents made the decision to stop paying my education that really showed their true beliefs. That me being who they wanted me to be, was more important. Sure... I could have taken out loans to pay for my education, you could say I was spoiled to even have my education being paid in the first place. But that's not what we are talking about here. My parents were fortunate enough to have the ability to help me succeed, but they chose not to. Over the 7+ years I tried to get them to open their minds a bit, but I wasn't successful in that challenge.
My father never met my husband, and my mother still hasn't met my husband. I only really saw my family at gatherings I reluctantly went to. But it was always as if I was going back into the closet when I went to Christmas, or any other holiday gathering. I saw how my parents interacted with my brother and his wife, with my sister and her husband. I knew I wouldn't ever have that and it was always on my mind when attending these gatherings. You always love your family no matter what, but I didn't want to subject myself to those feelings and thus stopped going altogether when my family wouldn't budge on meeting my partner.
Furthermore, my father's final months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer were pretty sad, we knew it was coming and there wasn't much we could do but be there and spend time. Which I am grateful I was able to do. My whole immediate family was involved in the final days of my father's life, which I will always remember.
In the months following the funeral we came together as a family one more time before COVID really ramped up in the summer. I recall my mother mentioning she was working with my parents attorney - whom she trusted - and that they were doing something with the will. I didn't think anything of it.
October comes and I'm emailed a statement from my mother and her attorney requesting that we have these documents signed and notarized. Come to find out my parents had their wills made in the 90's and it was set up to form a trust. My mother would be the trustee and the 3 siblings would be listed as beneficiaries. This is what my mother was attempting to change supposedly due to the current tax laws. Apparently the tax laws were much different on the amount that you would be taxed in this form of trust at the time, so they wanted to change it to have everything put in my mom's name, negating my father's will entirely.
Here's what the attorney said, "...the Will was written to create a Trust for ______’s one-half interest for the benefit of (my mother) during (her) lifetime and then upon (my mother's) death, his one-half would pass to the children equally. By not funding the Trust, the kids are giving up their rights to receive the remainder of what is left in the Trust at (my mother's) death. Instead, they will receive what is left to them by your Will. There isn’t anything they are receiving in exchange for their willingness to give up what they are entitled to, so the consideration is for love and affection you have for one another."
I just want to state here for the record, that I wasn't expecting anything after my father passed. It never even crossed my mind until I got this email. But I read this and saw the words... "entitled to", "love and affection". It took me a while to process what I was reading. Like I said, I had no idea to be expecting this.
I called my mother, who I had been talking with regularly for the previous months and asked her... hey can you explain this a bit more for me? I didn't know there was a trust and why would you want to change the will? She explained what I said above, about the tax law and also said that it would be easier for her to do things with the money than to keep it in the trust and have to get the 3 kids to sign off on things if she needed to. I didn't say anything more except that I was going to have my attorney look at it and help me understand it further. She paused for a while and said, do you not trust me? I didn't really know what to say to that, but I told her it was just a legal document that I didn't understand and would like an attorney to explain it to me. She offered to have her attorney call me and explain it, but I told her then that I wanted my attorney. She mentioned that my other two siblings have already signed, and we concluded our conversation.
Like I said in the beginning of this story, I didn't expect any of this. I never thought of my parents money as potentially being mine. They both raised me right and I feel I'm not the type of person to take advantage or think of myself as having a large inheritance when my parents pass. Therefore, I've felt guilty the whole time about this. But by law and by my father's wishes, I am entitled to a portion of what my father and mother built.
This has been going on since October and I've found out many more things; questionable things such as, why didn't both my parents have the foresight to have their will updated within the 4 months of my father finding out he had cancer? Why did my mom lie to me about how the estate was to be broken up, why it took so long to get the will probated, etc.
I've only talked with my mom twice since then, both times she was calling to question me about this matter. I have the opinion that if you're paying a lawyer to act on your behalf, then it's a waste of time/money if you're going to discuss it with the other party without the lawyer involved. So I've put off my mother each time she's called to pressure me about why I'm doing this. My sister even called to try to understand it from my perspective. She asked me why I was doing this, putting mom through this... She said, you know it's their money right, it's not yours or mine or (my brother's). I put her off too.
Here's how I feel about it and why I'm pursuing a payout in exchange for signing the family settlement agreement. With signing the family settlement agreement, I am forfeiting my rights to anything my father left me. One could say, well... your mother could leave you the rest when she passes. How do you not know her Will will be exactly the same? I don't. I don't know if she would have put me in her will or not. But what I do know, is that she's changing what my father had set in place when he died.
My brother and sister don't have reason to question my mother, they have never had the rug pulled out from under them so-to-speak. I have.
I'm writing all this to collect my thoughts about it as well as seek 3rd party advice(?) or maybe someone who reads this will have had a similar story and can give some insight. Like I said throughout, I'm not the type of person to feel entitled to someone else's money, I really have never thought of my parents having money. But my father left it like he knew his will stated, then my mother is trying to change it. In this case, I am entitled to a portion. There's no "love and affection" that I'm receiving, so therefore I can't give up what I'm entitled to.
P.S. I grew up hearing stories of vengeful siblings or offspring going after money and possessions in court and it always sounded hateful, so gross, so selfish for someone to go after that sort of stuff. I never thought I would be in a similar situation, but here I am. I am realizing the story is probably much deeper than what is on the surface level that we can see from the outside. I'm not going after everything, not even close, but I believe I should be treated fairly.
Respectfully, your challenge is to accept that your family hasn't accepted you and your husband 100% without it getting in the way of you making decisions for the good of the family. If you think your mother will cut you out of the will, for whatever reasons, then it's best to conversate with her about it, without lawyers involved, because she expected you to trust her when you spoke to her concerning the will, regardless of what's gone down.
Whether it's about the money or not, you need to realise that your actions aren't helping relations between you and your family. Your lawyer won't tell you that and you need to ask yourself if that's what you need right now. Just as you made a decision with your life some years ago, and have been successful with finding happiness with your husband and leading a fulfilling life with him, your mother now deserves to live her remaining years as comfortable as she can, and if it means a new agreement being signed for her benefit by her adult children, then so be it.
Sooner or later, you're going to have get over having the rug pulled out from under you as you post, and understand to learn from your past without living in it. You come across as a decent guy but you're trying too hard to solve this issue when the easy solution is staring you in the face.
First have a conversation with your mother. Be very clear about what your rights are concerning this first stage of beneficiary settlements from the trust.
If you are, then don’t be hesitant to tell your mother and her lawyer that you wish to opt out of anything for the future concerning your mothers will. Simply ask that the wishes of your father trust be implemented and that you receive your beneficiary amount as indicated in the original trust.
You must be willing to accept this “ final” amount and be on with your life.
First off I am so sorry your own parents didn't accept you for who you are. You are a human being that has feelings and that must of felt awful knowing that the loving christian parents you knew cut you off and out of their lives. I think that is awful for them to do that. They should have shown love for you. I would definitely have my attorney explain things and I would not sign it. I think you deserve to grant your father's wishes as it was on the will. It is not being spiteful but I think you should keep things how they are. That is what he wanted. It will also help you since they cut you off and not their other children because they were "normal" and you did not fall into their norm of how you should be. That is very shallow and unloving. They showed the opposite of what a good christian person should be. You made your life choice and its not even a choice, it is who you are and a parent's duty is to love their children. They might not agree in your life style or whatever but they should love you and support you and let you live and be happy. Do not sign. Good luck. Keep being you❤
Love the sinner; hate the sin. Have you ever heard that? I bet you have and I bet your parents did also. Strong, Bible aware Christians consider homosexuality a sin whether you agree with it or not. The good news is, it is no greater a sin then the sins your parents, siblings, and all of us have and continue to commit. They all can be forgiven. Perhaps your parents could have shown their love differently.
With that out of the way, maybe you can see the will of your parents as a partnership. Most marriages are consider partnerships and each is legally entitled to speak for the other when the other can't. If I understand your post correctly, your father did not initially leave anything to you, your parents initially left something for you.
I'm reminded of a movie scene where two adversaries (who still loved each other) were at a table with numerous lawyers for both sides. After the lawyers litigiously and expensively attempted to resolved the issue, the two individuals left the room alone and resolved the issue with loving communication. Try that and let us know how it goes.