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'AITA for leaving my niece an inheritance but not my nephew?'

'AITA for leaving my niece an inheritance but not my nephew?'


'AITA for leaving my niece an inheritance but not my nephew?'

I was diagnosed with a terminal illness a few months ago. It’s not a matter of if, but when, and the best estimate is that I have in the neighborhood of 1-2 years. I’m dealing with it. I’ve had a good life and no regrets. Part of dealing with it is getting my affairs in order before I leave the stage.

My sister has two children (13f & 5m). The 13 yo is from her previous relationship, the 5 yo from her current husband. My niece’s father skipped out on them and my sister had a rough time of it, so I helped them out early on. Her husband is well off so they’re set now, but it’s become very obvious to me over the years that he wishes my niece weren’t in their lives.

They don’t exactly neglect her, but she’s left out of a lot and it’s very obvious even to our parents that my nephew is heavily favored. I’ve talked to my sister about it at various points, but she’s in denial and I don’t think would ever have the courage to stand up to her husband. I’ve tried to make it up to my niece in quiet ways, but I know it still hurts and I worry about her.

I made some very fortunate business moves early on and I’m now sitting on a large chunk of change and a retirement fund that I will not live to use. My sister has made no plans for my niece’s college or anything else, but the girl is incredibly smart and hardworking in school and she deserves a chance to make the most of herself.

It’s my intention to have everything put in trust for her after my death, managed by my executor until she’s 25 so that her parents can’t touch it, she can have money for school, and some time to mature before being fully in control. My nephew already has a trust fund from his father, so he doesn’t need the money.

Ironically, this would put her in a better financial position than the rest of the family, but I think that’s justice at this point considering how much she’s put up with and missed out on. I sat down with my parents and sister to lay out my plans and end of life wishes, and my sister is deeply offended that I’m excluding her and my nephew.

She thinks I should leave the money to her to split between them or set up equal trusts for the kids. My father loathes BIL and said he agrees with me not letting him or my sister near the trust, but I could leave my nephew something to save face. My mother is too distraught to have an opinion right now. BIL made a joke later about contesting the will, and my sister isn’t speaking to me.

I feel like I have more responsibility to look after my niece since no one else is, while her brother will be okay. I love my nephew, too, though, and don’t want him to feel bad when he’s older. I’ve planned to leave him some non monetary items. AITA?

Here are some of the top comments:

[deleted] said:

NTA, but I would see a lawyer. I've heard too many times where people mentioned leaving the other person a nominal amount of $5k so that they can't contest the will. Granted, my expertise is coming from "Better Call Saul" and a few other shows but I'd still check.

chubbybunni1985 said:

NTA at all but agree with your farther, maybe leaving a token something so your nephew isn’t left feeling they way your niece does. That you didn’t value him at all. But agree that the majority is left to your niece to ensure she gets the same leg up as your nephew.

I’d make sure that you have it locked right that there can be no contest and they should think long and hard about it if they want any sort of relationship with her daughter. I’d also leave a letter for your nephew explaining your rational that he can read as an adult. It’s your money and you leave how you see fit.

caw81 said:

"BIL made a joke later about contesting the will." I would flip out if anyone did that to me. Its even worse if I was an estimated 1-2 years left.

DinaFelice said:

NTA, but I think you should listen to your father. Your 5yo nephew didn't do anything wrong and, once you are gone, there's every reason to believe that your sister and BIL will twist things to make him feel resentful. I would leave him a small share (also in trust) along with a letter for him to read when he's older explaining that you made the choice you did to protect your niece, not to hurt him.

I would also include a line saying that you love both of them very much and since you know that he loves his sister too, you have faith that he will understand this. I'm so sorry that you have to go through this

nimbus_47 said:

Nta...but this is dangerous. You said your niece is already somewhat left out and I'm afraid after this, I think your BIL might make things worse. I don't like the joke he made. You should try to tell your sister privately how you think your niece is being unfairly treated now.

Morrigan-71 said:

NTA. "She thinks I should leave the money to her to split between them." Yeah right, we all know how that would end given her lack of a spine. Her husband would make her give the most, if not all, of it to their son.

Hrekires said:

NTA, it's your money to do as you wish with. If you don't have a will already, get one created. Otherwise your next of kin (parents or siblings) will inherit your estate by default and are not legally bound to follow any intentions you may have mentioned to them.

And if you care about your legacy, you might want to write a letter addressed to your nephew just explaining your reasoning so that he doesn't come away with the impression that you didn't care about him.

Verdict: NTA. Do you agree?

She later shared this update:

First, thank you for the kind condolences. It’s never an easy thing to face, but there are worse things that can happen and I’ve already been more fortunate than most. As everyone has suggested, I do have a good lawyer and financial planner working on this as well as a trusted friend in estate planning who will be my executor so that this remains as far outside of family politics as possible.

I do like the idea as someone suggested of leaving enough for university tuition locked down for my nephew just in case his father is being dishonest about the trust, so I will discuss that with the professionals. I’m also leaving him some items of actual value, which I suppose he could sell if he chose.

That being said, he has a large family on his father’s side to help him, whereas my niece has only me and my parents locally, our other family lives abroad and would not be in a position to help. I do also like the idea of making recordings and letters for them to explain the situation.

Some here were worried about BIL treating my niece badly in the next few years because of the trust and that’s something I’ve been concerned about myself. My niece would prefer to live with her grandparents and they would be happy to have her, but my sister has been an obstacle to that because of appearances.

I’ve compiled evidence of emotional neglect over the years along with BIL’s shady behavior in general and have discussed suing for custody with my parents in the event the situation worsens. I will work in some emergency funds for legal costs and such in the event that happens or to allow my niece to emancipate at 16 if she chooses.

That year or two gap might be difficult for her, but I think if it’s clear that there are a lot of eyes on the situation and people in her corner, BIL won’t escalate too much as it would draw unwanted attention to his other activities.

Before I was diagnosed, I had floated the idea with my sister of paying to send her to a good boarding school so she could get a better quality education and maybe feel a little more comfortable away from home. That was received favorably at the time, so that may also be an option if my sister is still open to it.

My parents and I do plan to sit down with my niece soon and discuss this with her, make sure she’s introduced to my executor and lawyer so she knows who she can reach out to if she needs help or advice, and prepare her for what’s coming.

I had planned a trip for all of us - sister and nephew included - back to my parents’ home country for Lunar New Year, so I’m hoping that I’m still healthy enough by then to go and that some of this can be worked out while my sister is away from BIL’s influence.

Sources: Reddit
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