Few things can bring up major conflict quite like a surprising will.
With the late family member unable to explain their decisions, surviving family members are left to fight over legalities all while in the disorienting throes of grief.
In some cases, the will leaves primary beneficiaries in incredibly stressful positions, even if that position is brought on by a windfall.
AITA for selling my father's house even though his widow lives there?
My (33F) father died recently. He had been married to his widow, Penny, for about 7 years before. I was not close with my father, we spoke regularly and enjoyed each other's company.
But I can't say either of us knew each other well, for many years before his death. When he died, I was surprised to learn that he had left his entire estate to me. He put everything in trust a year before his death and I am the sole beneficiary.
Besides a small sum that he left to Penny, the lawyer said he was advised not to leave her nothing in case she tried to contest it, everything, including his house, is now mine.
My father's lawyers and mine have advised that the will is structured such that it would be near impossible and very expensive to challenge. I don't want my father's money. I don't need it, and given our relationship I don't feel right using it.
However, he obviously wanted me to have it. So, I intend to transfer everything over to my daughter, make her the beneficiary of the trust and she will have that in addition to her own trust fund once she is of age.
However, I don't want to keep my father's house. I don't live in the same country as my father and I do not want to deal with the admin of his possessions, I want the legal business done and to close the book on a very painful chapter, and grieve.
The trouble is, Penny lives in the house. Penny does not work and was financially dependent on my father, so while the lawyers say she could fight to stay living in the house, she likely can't afford legal counsel.
Also, because of her lack of income, she would never be able to maintain the house, which is quite large, so I would then have to keep up the house and grounds while she lived there, which I am not willing to do.
Both because of the cost and because of the continued involvement with my father's life, which I do not want.
I notified her via the lawyers of the intention to sell the house, which has led to vicious and vitriolic messages from her kids calling me evil and heartless. I understand this is inconvenient but I'm not responsible for what my father did.
Nor am I responsible for the people or the mess he left behind. I am not doing this to get one over on Penny, I'm just trying to be done with a traumatic part of my life. AITA?
People had a lot of thoughts about the complexity of this situation.
Because of the cost for upkeep that you can't afford, I'm going to go with NAH.
Except your father, because I find it unconscionable that all he left to his widow was a small sum and even that only to avoid her contesting it. Why on earth was he married to someone he care so little about?
It sounds like you and Penny have something in common. You've both been treated very badly by your father. You have no obligation to her. You're NTA.
But perhaps you could take this opportunity to be merciful to her and use the proceeds of the house to purchase a small house or apartment since you do not need the money at this time. Penny could live in it for rent or cost.
You could hire a rental management company that the tenant could pay for so you don't have to be involved. Once Penny passes, you could sell it. It might be a good investment.
Once you have set a price with your realtor, give her and her family a chance to purchase the house before you list it. Then, if they refuse, go ahead and sell. NTA.
I think this is one of those situations where you have to consider if you can live with your own decision.
OP may be legally in the clear, but this is a deeply personal moral question, since the dad sounds like a horrible man who forced OP to play a cruel game upon his death.
OP admits it is possible that this whole inheritance could have been a vindictive act of revenge against the wife for something very minor.
It is very cruel to have left his wife, who was financially dependent on him, in a completely vulnerable state, and OP neither wants nor needs the money.
While this is OP's choice to make, they have to decide if they want to play an unwilling role in their father's twisted games or perhaps sign the house over to the late wife just for their conscience's sake.
This is truly a situation where there's no easy answer, what's clear is the only undoubted AH here is OP's dad.