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'WIBTA if I kept my father's money instead of giving it to his wife?' UPDATED 3X

'WIBTA if I kept my father's money instead of giving it to his wife?' UPDATED 3X


'WIBTA if I kept my father's money instead of giving it to his wife?'

After my parents got divorced, my dad started dating Betty. Everything started okay, but Betty became jealous when my dad spent time with me. She was never abusive, just passive aggressive & saved her worst comments for when he wasn't around. I learned I can't trust her, but I am polite to her. Betty has a son, Frank, who's very greedy.

When she met my dad, Betty stopped giving him everything he wanted. In 2009, he & my dad had an argument that ended with then-40yo Frank punching my then-70yo dad. My dad died a few months ago. The will was joint, so the estate goes to Betty & once she dies, what's left will be divided between me, my brother (Alan) & Frank.

It's unlikely me or Alan will see any of it b/c Frank will drain her until there's nothing left, which has already started. They got married in 1996. In 2006, he changed the beneficiary on his IRA to only me; it's not part of the estate. She is "very nervous" about the IRA.

My dad was fairly wealthy, so between his estate, her retirement accounts & them selling their house for almost $1M, she is not going to starve, but she is still nervous. Alan called me with all this info b/c the estate lawyer is sending me a letter about it. Betty told him not to tell me anything, but he felt he had to. Haven't gotten the letter yet but they're maybe setting up a trust that she'll want me to sign the IRA into.

I expect a guilt trip about "doing the right thing" and following "his" wishes, but... the reason they had a joint will is b/c they couldn't agree on any other kind of split as my dad didn't like Frank & Betty doesn't like me. If I thought my dad had dementia, I might believe the IRA was missed, but he was very meticulous. It feels like making me beneficiary was his way of providing for me knowing this would happen.

It does not make financial sense for me to give the money to the estate & end up with 25% of whatever pittance is left when I could have 50% of whatever is in the IRA now (I would split it with Alan). My other reason for not wanting to share is that I'm currently pregnant & having this money would make being a SAHM easier & baby would get a jumpstart on her college fund.

WIBTA if I didn't give this money back to the estate & shared it with my brother? I might be the a-hole b/c while I want to be ethical, I am having some schadenfreude over being in control after she's treated me poorly for ~30 years. I also don't need the money, but she doesn't either, so... Other INFO: I don't know why she wouldn't call me directly;

either the lawyer said not to or this is another example of her not treating me as an adult. My brother is my half-brother. He was estranged & came back into our lives in 2008. I feel like he would have been on the IRA, too. After my brother came back into our lives, but before he had changed his will, my dad always had asked me to be fair with him so I would give him his share.

What do you think? This is what top commenters had to say:

TRoseee said:

NTA your father changed it YEARS ago. He wanted you to have that money. She has stuff left from him. Split it with your brother and live happily ever after. You don’t owe her anything. And her trying to hide info from you gives off so many red flags.

DoctorGuvnor said:

Under no circumstances sign the IRA into a trust. It was intended by your father to go directly to you and for Alan ('my dad always had asked me to be fair with him'). If he had wanted it to go to Betty and her brat he would have changed the beneficiary. That money was intended for you and your baby - I hope he/she is born healthy and happy - long life and happiness to you both.

hailszn said:

NTA, keep the money. Your father did this for a reason.

megnificent12 said:

NTA. Keep the money. Your father wanted you and your brother to have it. Why on earth should you put your father's retirement money into a trust that will partly benefit his asshole stepson? Betty can leave her son her money the same way your father left you his. Their financial situation is not your problem. I'm sorry for the loss of your father.

lemonsharking said:

You are NTA. Your father willed that IRA to YOU and it is your right to keep all of it. Further, your main loyalty here is to your daughter. do what's best for you and for her. (Also, tbh, everyone knows that Frank is going to bleed off every cent he can from his mom until she dies.)

Verdict: NTA.

She then shared a series of updates:

Update #1

I got my mystery letter! It was pretty much what I expected. Basically "Please give me the money because it's obvious that your dad thought this would be covered by the will and he meant for all the money to come to me, then filter down to you kids" complete with a guilt trippy paragraph about how they lived on their social security and withdrawing from their IRAs,

and neither of them have a pension or other income, and I quote, "only what we had saved over the years." There's also a line about how "You can see that there is a large value to the items gifted to you and Alan" which I'm not going to argue with, exactly, except that...

I sincerely wonder if she thinks I'm an idiot and doesn't realize I know how to add. She just sold their house for (almost $1M). Or that I don't know what the apartment in Italy is worth (~$350k). I find it very difficult to believe that my father didn't also have savings accounts/mutual funds, plus she's going to get widow survivor benefits in addition to her own benefits from Social Security.

The items Alan & I were gifted come nowhere close to that. I think altogether (there is a car involved), we're divvying up maybe $100k worth of stuff. Maybe. If we can get a good price for the car. With just those two sales, she could buy a house for $2-300k near her son and still have plenty to live on, but she has her heart set on buying a house by the beach which...doesn't feel very much like my problem.

From her letter, you'd think that this IRA has millions of dollars in it that she desperately needs to survive, but no. She tells me that it's worth ~$55k. That's 5% of just what she sold the house for. I genuinely think it's both pitiful and pathetic that she wouldn't just let it go, but I'm sure she has Frank whispering in her ear about making sure she gets everything she's "entitled" to.

But now I do have a copy of the will! Two things stand out from what she's sent me:

1.) The letter isn't on the lawyer's stationary, so there's been no official demand of any sort and I feel like it's unlikely that I'll get one.

2.) Nowhere in the will does it say that she couldn't just rewrite her will and give everything to Frank. Like I said in my last post, I don't trust her in the slightest.

So I've contacted an estate lawyer so I can determine my next steps. Thanks for being here with me on this ride. I'll update again if there's anything more to say!

Update #2

TL;DR of Past Posts: My father died and left everything to my step-mother except I was the beneficiary on his IRA. She sent me a letter asking that I sign over that money (~$55k) and crying poor despite them having sold their house for almost $1M last year.

There's not a whole lot to update on as, for better or for worse, I haven't heard from my step-mother in months, but I suppose this is some sort of closure for people who care. :)

About a week after I got the letter, she sent me a text message asking if I'd gotten the letter and if I'd made a decision. I said yes & no, respectively. She hasn't contacted me since, so nothing since August. Since then, I've also had my baby (five weeks early!), so it's not like I have a lot of brainpower to spend on her.

I spoke with an estate attorney and she confirmed that there's nothing legally my step-mother could do to get the IRA so I was in the clear there. She also confirmed that joint wills don't really exist anymore so if my step-mother wanted to, she could just rewrite her will to exclude me or me & Alan or whatever she wanted to do.

This left me with the interesting problem of "how do I get the money" considering I didn't know where it was and I didn't really want to contact my step-mother and say, "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request, so tell me how to get my money" because I felt like that would open up a can of "I'm not going to tell you until you agree to sign it over to me."

Luckily for me, the lawyer I spoke to was also the son of an old Italian man like my father and mentioned that these old Italian men tend to pick a bank and never change, so I googled around for investment firms until I saw a name that rang a bell and I went, "AH HA."

Long story short, the IRA is now in my name. Had to take a disbursement for this year and sent half to Alan. My step-mother has moved a couple of times, so I don't know her address to send my response letter to and, like I said, she hasn't contacted me since August, so I am considering my hands washed of it unless she actually tries. So all's well that ends well for me.

Alan, on the other hand, is still having to deal with her because of the estate. He's meeting with the estate lawyer tomorrow to get some questions answered, so I'll be interested in hearing what happens.

One of the things she had mentioned to him is that she needs a car that my father left to Alan & I appraised because if something (the estate, I am guessing, because there's no way the car is worth this much) is worth over $5M, she says there are "tax implications" which doesn't make sense to me...but...if she's really dealing with a $5M estate, it's super extra petty that she was coming after me for $55k.

Update #3

TL;DR of previous posts: My father died and left everything to my step-mother except I was the beneficiary on his IRA. She sent me a letter asking that I sign over that money (~$55k) and crying poor despite them having sold their house for almost $1M last year. I spoke with a lawyer and got confirmation she can't do anything to me and I managed to get the IRA transferred to my name.

Got one disbursement and sent Alan his half. I'm not sure if I'm making this post for me or for you guys, but at least this is a chronicle of the issue in case anyone asks me about it later. After my last update, there was silence for a while, then my step-mother sent me a Christmas card with another letter inside it, but I'm sure that particular irony was lost on her.

In it, she explained what she was going to use the money for (health insurance payments) and once again acting like this money is what's keeping her from the brink of starvation. This letter, however, had a return address, so I did what any red-blooded Millennial would do and...Googled it.

One visit to the county deed website later confirmed for me that she has bought a beach house (well, it's not on the beach; it's in a beach town...being purposefully vague here...) for $745,000.

She ended the letter by saying that she had talked to my cousin who told her that I saw the money as being able to continue my father's memory and what SHE felt I should accept are books, photo albums, etc because THOSE are my father's memory, but she'll "discard" them if she didn't hear from me by the end of the year because it just proves I'm all about the money and nothing else.

I'm sure the irony of me being "all about the money" while offering to replace it with material things while really, REALLY wanting me to give her money is also lost on her. Also the attempting to sell me memories was a nice touch. As I finally had an address to respond to, I wrote what my BFF described as "the most polite bridge burning ever" and sent it off before her deadline.

She called yesterday, which I did not answer. She left a message saying that she just received my letter that day (I know the USPS sucks right now, but almost two weeks for a letter?) and to call her back so she could "clear some things up." Her tone was very hostile so I am disinclined to call her back.

Honestly, I don't really want to hear what she has to say and I'm not sure why she would think I would. Like...there's really nothing she could say that would convince me to give her the money and she'll probably just yell at me like I'm the kid she still thinks I am. Hopefully this doesn't escalate, but if it does, you know I'll update. Ha.

Sources: Reddit
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