Saturday, April 13, 2013

Not Feeling the Love

I inherited some money when my grandfather passed away about a year ago.  (My grandmother had already passed.)  These were my biological father's parents.  I had literally no contact with anyone from that family for at least 20 years.  My parents split up when I was one or two years old.  All I remember is growing up with just me and my mom and visiting my father's parents (my grandparents) on a somewhat regular basis.  Sometimes my father would be there, sometimes he wouldn't (I believe at the time he was teaching overseas).  But after about the age of 5, apparently a blow-out between the families caused me to not visit them anymore.  Then when my mom remarried (when I was 6), my "step-dad" legally adopted me... my biological father gave up all rights.  And we all moved on. 

Now, of course I always wondered about that part of my family growing up.  And I could write loads about a variety of topics related to this whole thing.  But today's blog is about the contact I've been in with my aunt (my biological father's sister) after the passing of my grandparents. 

When I was around 27 or so years old, I got in contact with my grandparents on my own.  Oddly enough, that was the year my father passed away.  He died before I got back in touch with them.  And the first time I actually saw that family again, as an adult, was at my father's memorial service. 

But, the good in all of it is that I was back in touch with my grandparents, who are/were great people.  I really healed a lot through building a relationship with them.  Since they lived in Florida, I would fly down and visit them once a year most years, until they passed.  This gave me five or six visits I believe. 

I had no idea my grandparents put me in their will (I wasn't in my father's will when he died).  But when I was in Florida for my grandpa's memorial, my aunt and uncle pulled me aside to tell me I would be receiving 10% of their estate.  I made mention of this in a previous blog or two... how this unexpected money came to me when I needed it most... just as I was leaving my job to be a writer.  This money afforded me (and still affords me) the ability to write, and pull money out of my savings, while building up my writing portfolio and increasing my sales.  The timing of it all is... of course... Divine. 

So what's my problem? 

My aunt was the executor of the will.  Everything she's asked, I've gone along with.  I paid "my share" of the legal fees in the processing of the will and trust.  I even agreed to a donation to FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) because apparently that was an organization my grandparents supported, and my aunt thought it would be nice if some of their money went to that cause.  And now my aunt has just contacted me again saying she will let me know "my share" of the income taxes on the trust, before it was distributed. 

I get dividing stuff among heirs.  I get that it's "fair" that I pay part of the legal fees and now that I pay part of the taxes.  I get that.  It just feels crappy.

My aunt and her husband/family are very wealthy.  I visited them in Atlanta once last year.  They're very nice, friendly people (or so I thought), and extremely well-off.  When I was in their house for the visit, it was literally the nicest, fanciest house I've ever been in in my life... of actual living people.  It was like a museum house. 

So for one thing, I know a few hundred dollars in legal fees, or whatever these taxes will be, are like a drop in the bucket to these people.  So it seems... petty?  I'll try to come up with a better word.... that they're now basically demanding that I, a single woman, the only daughter of their brother, who they had no relationship with my entire life, that I pay "my share" of all these fees. 

When I got my aunt's text a couple days ago about it, I instantly felt stressed.  Money is tight for me right now.  I'm still trying to "make it" with my writing.  I'm still trying to figure stuff out.  And I thought I had already paid out all the fees and stuff that I was going to have to in regards to this inheritance.  And now they're asking for more pay-back. 

I know, I didn't have this money to begin with, I shouldn't be complaining.  That's how I feel on one hand.  I am grateful to have this windfall, no doubt.  But it's not about the money.  It's about how I feel.  I realized this yesterday as I thought about how my aunt has handled all of this. 

I put myself in her shoes, as best as I could.  If I was very wealthy and had absolutely everything I desired, and suddenly am in touch with my sister's long-lost child (I don't have a brother), I believe I would have handled things differently.  If I met this child, and saw that they are a good, honest person, I think I'd be a little more gracious and loving and interested in getting to know them. 

It just seems to me, and this is probably my ego, or my wounded inner child speaking, that after missing out on a lifetime with my biological family, letting some legal fees and taxes slide is a small way to try to make up for love and time lost.  Especially if I (as the wealthy aunt) had no money worries whatsoever and could easily cover the cost. 

But I realized that the only time this aunt has contacted me has been in regards to the money.  Granted, she is the executor of the will, so it is her responsibility to make sure everything happens.  And I appreciated her keeping me up to date on the process.  And when she would call, we did chat a little bit about our lives.... but it always got back to the money.  And now, now it's all about the money.  I hadn't received a friendly, "how have you been" email, text, or call in months.  But I did receive a text saying she'll let me know what "my share" of the tax bill is. 

So that's what hurts.  I'm still processing it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  It hurts because I just feel that I would have handled the whole situation so differently.  I would have been happy to have my deceased sister's only child in my life and I would not be demanding money from them, especially I already had so much money. 

I went along with everything she's asked so far because I wanted to be gracious.  And it did feel a little weird to be getting this inheritance, honestly.  I didn't want my "family" to think I was stepping in and being greedy. 

But this latest thing has me upset and I'm not entirely sure why.  Maybe it's still old feelings surfacing that need to come out in regards to that whole situation and losing the relationship with my family.  Or maybe it's disappointment in my aunt for the way she's handling it all.  I think both. 

I've thought about sending an email to my aunt explaining how I'm feeling.  But then I don't want it to come off like I'm greedy, again, or that I'm trying to play some "sympathy card" and get out of paying what really is my "fair share."  I go back and forth on thinking that she needs to know, and I need to tell her, my honest, hurt feelings in all of this.   To thinking it doesn't really matter, it might do more harm than good, and I'll just pay whatever the tax bill is when she tells me, and hopefully be done with it. 

Or perhaps, and this just came to me, I could write her a letter and mail it along with the check, when I pay the tax bill.

Still, I wonder.... is my wanting to tell her how I feel my ego or wounded inner child speaking... and all it would do is make her feel bad (maybe) and stir up more drama than I really want? 

I don't know.  I don't yet know how I'll handle the whole thing.  I just decided to write about it in my blog today to "get it out there" into the Universe.  Hopefully gain some clarity and peace.

I didn't even feel it was appropriate to add inspirational quotes to this blog.  I apologize for the plainness of it... I'll get back to my "normal" blogs on Monday. 

Thanks, though, for reading.  And if you have any comments, suggestions, insights, personal experiences, I'd love to hear them below in the comments.   


  1. Reading your predicament, I doubt your Aunt would offer to or accept herself paying all of the taxes just because she's wealthier than you. In an ideal world this would make sense, given she's better off than you and can afford it easily- but my gut tells me after reading your story that this is unlikely. My only suggestion is maybe writing to her explaning you're not in the best financial situation at the moment and asking if you're able to pay your share down the track when you're a bit more secure. Just an idea :)
    Good luck anyway!

    1. Becks,
      Thanks for the thought and suggestion! I think you're right, that if my aunt was going to do anything, she'd just do it, and not even suggest I pay for stuff. It's not about the money. I HAVE the money (I haven't blown through all the inheritance, I'm trying to use it as wisely and efficiently as possible). It's the principle of it. And the disappointment in feeling that I'd handle things differently if the roles were reversed. That's what it's really about.

    2. Yeah I get that feeling; it's always hard when someone acts in a way you just know you wouldn't act if you were in their position. What I've found helps (particularly with a friend who really triggers me) is to think about a time I may have acted in a similar way in the past. The details are usually different, but I do find once I can identify a time I may have acted in a way I'm not proud of myself, it eases my ill feelings towards the person who's triggered me :)