Help! I Resent My Mother for Shortchanging Me in Her Will

I recently found out that my mother's will gives one of my brothers as much as the other three brothers combined. He was the only one who stayed in the small southern town where we grew up. He hasn't worked for most of his life and still doesn't work. He drives her to the doctor and sometimes cuts the grass. However, he complains to me about this all the time, and about her. I tried to talk to my mother about this, but she refuses to accept that this might be wrong. Her father did the same thing to her; even though she was his only daughter, he gave all of his money to a relative of his wife. You would think she would know how it feels to be treated this way. I resent her for this and also do not speak to the brother anymore. The last time I visited them, he verbally attacked me just like our father used to do. This really bothers me. Is what she did wrong or am I wrong? This really bothers me, but I can't seem to cope with it or just forget it. What do you suggest? —Unfortunate Son
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Dear Unfortunate Son,

There is no question that inheritance bequests can create significant tension and strife in families. Often, one or more of the surviving relatives feels slighted and unfairly treated. The only person, however, who has the right to decide how to leave their estate is the person creating the will.

Your mother may have some very clear reasons for allocating her estate the way she has. Of course it doesn’t feel fair to you—but what’s fair isn’t always right, and what’s right isn’t always fair. It may be that your mother feels that her son who stayed close and helps her out (as minimally as it may seem to you) is entitled to more of the estate. It may be that she is concerned about his ability to thrive after she is gone and is trying to make sure he is taken care of. (If this is the case, it may be that she has confidence you’ll be just fine—though I’m sure that would feel like small consolation.) It may be something else completely, but she has her reasons for making the choices she made.

You can allow resentment to poison your relationship with your brother and your mom, or you can let it go.

The choice you are left with, then, is how to respond. You can allow resentment to poison your relationship with your brother and your mom, or you can let it go. When you tried to talk with your mother, did you focus on how these choices made you feel, or did you come from the perspective of right/wrong and fair/unfair?

If you focus on how wrong or unfair her choice seems, you may be met with defensiveness and entrenchment. If you start from a place of accepting that it is her right to make these choices, but that you find her choices hurtful, you may be able to come to a better understanding. She might be able to explain her thinking in a way that makes sense to you, and she might be able to hear and respond to your pain—but not if she has to defend the “rightness” of her choices.

However you choose to approach this, I strongly recommend that you find a way to make peace with your mother before she dies. That might mean seeking personal counseling for yourself to let go of anger and resentment, or perhaps family counseling with your mother and possibly your brother. You have the opportunity to address these issues while she is here to respond. All too often, resentments are left to fester until it is too late to heal the rifts.

Best of luck,
Erika

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
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  • Michelle

    Michelle

    January 29th, 2016 at 10:47 AM

    This must be something that is pretty typical for the parents to pick one child as the one who has to be taken care of all their lives and it extends even after the death of the parents. My husband has the same thing with his brother and all his mother worries about is what will happen to him after she is gone. he will get the house, the land, everything and it just feels like my husband is being punished for actually working hard his whole life and never asking for favors. But the one who never worked is the one who needs help so that’s how it will be.

  • tanner

    tanner

    January 29th, 2016 at 1:10 PM

    Ultimately her things are hers to do with what she wants and not yours.

  • Dorian

    Dorian

    January 30th, 2016 at 2:29 PM

    The only thing that I would hope for you to consider would be to not harbor anger and resentment over this. Time is too short and I know that you are hurt right now, but is this something to hold onto and allow to ruin your relationship with your family? If you are okay financially and she knows that then this is why she has probably made this decision. I know that it stings, but you know, there are some things that will just not change so is it better to just let them go so that you can hold onto and enjoy the time that all of you now have left together? And who knows? Things could always change to something else later on.

  • LeeAnn

    LeeAnn

    January 31st, 2016 at 10:32 AM

    There is still a chance that she could change her mind

  • Bekkah

    Bekkah

    January 31st, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    Weird that she would even consider doing the same thing to you that was done to her.

  • Kaylin

    Kaylin

    February 12th, 2016 at 1:13 PM

    This happened to a good friend of mine but she did not know until after her dad dies that he had pretty much cut her out and left everything to her brother. Needless to say she felt a little betrayed and I am not sure that she and her brother will ever get along because of that. I often wonder if her dad thought about those kind of ramifications when he was making out his will.

  • Denna

    Denna

    May 12th, 2016 at 8:46 AM

    My dad came to me when siblings and even he joined her lies and he realized it was wrong. You don’t deserve this. It’s too far gone to repair. I lied and told him I was fine, but I cry and pray–a lot. My older sis committed suicide. & wrote me before, ” I want my daughter to have your influence. I’m asking you to watch over her.” I did from the age of two and changed plans to make sure she knew love and the whole family. Now she joined them. My kids will never know cousins. They all stopped communication with my kids too. It’s like a cancer untreated, Dad remarked. I resolved to never leave my kids feeling lonely, no matter what. I know they’re hurt in all this. My.sis was right: ” There will never be room in that heart for everyone. You’ll be okay; you’re strong.” She was extremely intelligent and intuitive. Sure I’m strong. What does that mean–that I just survive? No wonder I break my back so others thrive. I’m sad and lonely– and that’s what they want now. It didn’t used to be that way– but that was before Mom got worse and the only sis-law has the same desire. “Women protecting the men in the family” Dad said– “and who benefits?” My siblings don’t know why he came to me nor what he or my deceased did. Should I write and tell them? It’s awful to know ill die and they’ll never know.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    May 12th, 2016 at 9:40 AM

    Dear Denna,

    If you would like to talk about this or any other concern with a qualified mental health professional, feel free to return to our homepage, https://www.goodtherapy.org/, and enter your zip code into the search field to find therapists in your area.

    Once you enter your information, you’ll be directed to a list of therapists and counselors who meet your criteria. From this list you can click to view our members’ full profiles and contact the therapists themselves for more information. You are also welcome to call us for assistance finding a therapist. We are in the office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time; our phone number is 888-563-2112 ext. 1.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

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