Inheritance is having a moment. Yesterday, we wrote about a dad who went viral for spending his kids' inheritance after they told him he'd have to take care of himself in old age. Today, a similar issue is playing out on Reddit's Am I the A**hole, with a different twist. Today's parent wrote:
AITA for calling my son ridiculous for asking me to uphold a promise I made more than 20 years ago?
I have two sons: Jake (30m) and Carlos (30m). Carlos is technically my stepson but he's my son, I adopted him.
I have a ranch. It's only 2 hours away from the city, so I used to go every week with my son Jake when he was little. In one of this trips to the ranch, I offhandedly promised him that one day, the ranch would be his.
I met Carlos's dad when Jake and Carlos were 6. I married him a year later. Both Jake and Carlos used to go with me almost every week to the ranch, depending if they were busy.
When they were both 16, Jake picked up football pretty seriously, so he couldn't go to the ranch so much anymore. Carlos continued to go with me until 18, when he went to college and studied engineering in agronomy (don't know if this is the correct translation). Jake got a degree in finance.
After college, Carlos asked me if he could move to the ranch to work there full time. Of course I agreed. That was 8 years ago. Since then, he has made great improvements and I can confidently say he is the biggest reason as to why the ranch is thriving.
He also now has a wife and a little girl who live there full time. On the other hand, Jake didn't really show any interest towards the ranch, he maybe goes once every four months.
I was having dinner with Jake the other day. We were reminiscing about a dear family friend who recently passed away without a will and how his family is now looking towards a long process of litigation because they couldn't agree about how to split his stuff.
I said 'good thing that I already decided mine.' Jake was surprised, and asked me how I'm going to split my net worth. I told him that the stuff from his mom was going to him, and the ranch was to be split between Carlos and him and the house will stay with my husband.
Jake then asked me If I remembered the promise I made to him when he was 6. I said I did. Then he asked me why I'm not honoring that promise. I was shocked. I asked him if he was being serious and he said yes.
Then I said 'It's insane that you are expecting me to do that. You're being ridiculous.' He was not happy. We finished dinner quickly after that, and when I told him goodbye he said to me to not contact him for a while because he had to sort out his feelings about this.
That was a week ago and he hasn't returned any of my calls. Carlos is also mad at me because Jake is basically his best friend and hasn't talked to him either. My husband is staying out of all of this.
Here's how the aspiring estate-lawyers of the comments section weighed in:
NTA. Carlos has sweat equity in the ranch, at this point. You would be justified in leaving the ranch to Carlos alone. But you are splitting the ranch so Jake gets half of it. That's fair, and it's not breaking a promise. If Jake wants the entire ranch, he can buy out Carlos' half, which Carlos has EARNED.
Well I have to ask why the f*** Op didn't explain it to Jake just like they explained it to the internet. Instead of saying 'I don't uphold my word'. Something along the lines of I think Carlos deserves something because he works on the ranch and you have ignored it for years.
ESH he should have realized as an adult that things were different as you have 2 sons now BUT why on earth did you wait til he was 30 to tell him. And clearly your words when he was 6yo were taken seriously by him so you were out of line to call it ridiculous!
Soft YTA. You are in your right to decide where your property goes, but you should sit him down and explain why it’s going somewhere different than where you promised it would go
OP, make sure your attorney has an airtight will with your wants clear as crystal. NTA
Does Jake want to get nothing? Because this is how he gets nothing. NTA
ESH - you handled the conversation very badly. You should sit down and talk to both of your sons and try to clear the air now.
Having said that, you are free to distribute your estate how you choose and both your sons need to understand that. You made a stupid, shortsighted promise when you shouldn't have but circumstances are different now and you have two sons.
So let's talk pragmatically. This is Carlos place of residence and business. Carlos can do whatever he wants on the ranch.
Can Jake do the same? Say he wanted to keep a car collection or wanted to build a house on the property or wanted to add a coy pond. I assume the ranch has a house, what if you wanted to move into it?
How much can Jake actually do on the property?
You hear stories like this a lot. Ranch gets passed down. 1 child gave up their lives to work it the other ran off to the city. When the parents die the ranch ends up split and then it’s bought by a developer and turned into subdivisions.
Corb lund has an amazing song about it. “S lazy h”. So basically. You give it to both of them. Jake will cash out Carlos will have to sell to pay it off and the ranch is gone. Jake forfeit any claim when he abandoned it. You need to ask yourself where you want the ranch to be in 50 years. With your grand kids or turned into a cookie cutter subdivision.
And after ireadrot said:
In answer to your actual question YTA. NTA for dividing the will fairly, but Ahole territory for belittling him like that. Would he have expected this promise to be upheld if you had birthed other children as opposed to adoption? Seems to me he considers Carlos less than for this reason. Hopefully with time he may come around but don't push it. Give him space for now.
OP chimed back in to say:
Yes, I agree that the way I went about it was horrible. I will do everything in my power to apologize to Jake.
I really don't think Jake sees Carlos as less than. He was very happy when I decided to adopt Carlos. I think he was just caught off guard by the fact that I decided to split up the ranch.
I'll take your advice and give Jake some space. He is my everything. I hope I didn't do too much damage to the relationship.
An exhausting situation — time to relax on the ranch.