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Dying father's will secret causes major family feud over unfair inheritance. AITA?

Dying father's will secret causes major family feud over unfair inheritance. AITA?


"AITA for not disclosing my will?"


I (58m) was recently diagnosed with a terminal condition. Won’t get into details, but it was the classical “went in with a paper cut, got out with AIDSCancer2000” situation. I’ve got roughly a year and a half left.

Over time, I’ve made a bunch of unwise decisions. I have multiple children with different women. I have three sons: Lance (43m) who has two daughters, Mark (22m) and Tony (15m). And four daughters: Cammy (38f) who has four children, Linda (30f), Ronny (28f) and Kathie (24f).

Not going to lie here, I’ll just say that I was only involved in raising Ronny and Kathie. Their mom died when they were little and I couldn’t refuse to take them in. Ronny is starting her career in law and Kathie recently got her degree in agriculture. 9 years ago I also took in Mark, who was kicked out by his rotten stepdad. Mark decided against pursuing higher education.

I own a ranch. It’s not a little one, though, but we’re managing just fine with the help of hired staff. We have about 500 heads of cattle, not counting the horses. The ranch has been in my family for generations.

I know for certain that the only children who would be interested in preserving the ranch are Kathie and Mark. Maybe it’s just my delusion grandeur, but I’m very passionate about passing the ranch down to my children, so they’ll be able to continue the family tradition.

Knowing my children and knowing that they probably inherited my “amazing” personality, I can say for sure that the second I draw my last breath, there will be an inheritance war vicious enough to make Middle East and Eastern Europe seem like a recess fight in kindergarten. It will be nasty, painful and disgusting.

I wrote a will. As per my will, the ranch will go to Kathie and Mark 50:50. Including all the machines, trucks, other equipment, financial assets. Ronny, the executor of the will, is getting my 1970s Lincoln Continental.

She’s the one who’s driving this car for the last 5 years and she’s the one paying for maintenance, insurance, everything. The other children get $10k each and Tony gets my car, a 2010s Chevy Suburban, purely because it’s a safe car and he’s getting his license this year. The grandkids also get $5k each. It’s not much, but I don’t own much either.

I’ve notified my children that I don’t have much time left. Of course they asked to see the will. I know that the second they see it, the garbage will hit the fan and things will escalate.

I don’t want it. I don’t want to spend my final year seeing my children suffer and fight. Ronnie advised me agains disclosing the will, she’s a skilled lawyer so I trust her completely. I refused to disclose the will and now my children are enraged.

They keep speculating about the will, they keep pestering me and giving advice on what should I leave to whom. Am I the ah0l3 for refusing to disclose the contents of my will? By now, the only ones who know about them are me and Ronnie and I intend to keep it this way.

Here were the top rated comments from readers:


Going against the grain here with YTA.

It all just sounds like one cop out after another. You didn't raise the majority of your children.

Even the ones you did raise you "couldn't refuse to take them in". Your son was only taken in after his "asshole step dad kicked him out". Well his real dad didn't take him in from the get go so what does that make you?

Then you want to keep your will confidential because you don't want to handle the consequences of your own decision of how you are choosing to distribute your assets. So you would rather your children all rip each other's throats out and hate on another than direct that anger where it really belongs, at you.

Normally id think that they should be more concerned with enjoying the time you have remaing and filling it with pleasant memories but I really don't think that applies here. They have dealt with an absentee father their whole lives who is more concerned about his ranch than them.


This, so much. This guy neglected his children in life, and is now going to neglect most of them in death as well.


YTA Sorry about your prognosis. I can’t imagine essentially cutting out any of my children to preserve a piece of property. It’s a shame that you value your property to that degree.

Really? Is preserving it is more important than making each of your children feel equally loved and valued? No piece of property is worth that. I just don’t get it. You need to consider the lasting ramifications of your actions.

As far as the comments go related to the greed implication of some of the children remember that they are a product of their parents upbringing and if they were all treated equally the same then perhaps they would not be that way. This is a very sad situation.


One piece of advice. I'd transfer ownership of the ranch prior to your death. You don't need to disclose that with anyone. That will prevent any legal disputes if they want to challenge the will. Also I'm not a lawyer but isn't the fact that you lawyer is also a person of interest in the will a liability if it comes down to court.


NTA. I’m sorry to hear of your prognosis. Your assets are yours and yours alone to do with whatever you see fit. Money sometimes has a horrible way of ripping families apart after a loved one dies, and based on your description of the family dynamics, it sounds like that would be the case here no matter what choices you make in your will.

I think you’re making the right call not to disclose your will… why make the time you have left worse than it needs to be? Use your time doing what makes YOU happy and fulfilled.

I hope your family will be mature enough to appreciate your remaining time together, and you all spend it making memories that they will hold dear once you are gone. I wish you the best of luck, and you never know… you might have more time than you anticipate. Take care!

So, if you could give the OP any advice here, what would you say to them?

Sources: Reddit
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