‘Greed rears its ugly head and kills brotherly love’: My husband and his brother are at war over an inheritance from a loved neighbor. What can we do?

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Dear Quentin, When my husband and his only (younger) brother were growing up, a childless neighbor was very nice to them and treated them as if they were her “nephews”, they even called her “Aunt Hilda”. They also treated her like family; my husband has visited her regularly over the years. But greed rears its ugly head and kills brotherly love.

When my husband was in the military 30 years ago, Aunt Hilda gave my husband’s brother a house and property when he decided to move to another state to care for his future mother-in-law, with the written legal condition that he had the ability to return and live in the house for life, if he wanted it or needed it. The brother decided that he didn’t really like those terms, and after living in the house for a couple of years, he used the “collateral” on the property to borrow money to buy land elsewhere and build another house. The “old” house has been empty for 20 years, but he does the bare minimum to avoid disaster. She doesn’t stay there because she doesn’t stay. She has said that she does not want to do anything to encourage her to return home.

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“’At first, she talked about dividing her property 50/50, then she remembered that she had already given the brother the other house and the land.’ ”

Recently, Aunt Hilda’s husband died. She is 80 years old and decided that she wants to write a will to leave her money and property to my husband and his brother. At first, he talked about dividing his property 50/50, then recalled that he had already given the brother the other house and the land (the current value is about $ 400,000, not a small sum). Now Aunt Hilda says that since she has already given the younger brother the other house and the land, that must be taken into account. The brother is sending my husband extensive emails to try to convince him and Aunt Hilda that the previous “anticipated inheritance” should not be taken into account “because it cost him a lot of trouble and work.” Of course, it is up to Aunt Hilda how she wants to divide the property, and whatever it is, everyone must respect her wishes. But if you ask the brothers how to do it fairly, what do you recommend? He is 80 years old, but could live another 15 years and any value assigned to the brother’s house today would probably change. There is much more that could be added regarding my brother-in-law’s attempts to earn more than his brother, none of which reflects his character well. My poor husband is heartbroken by his brother’s greedy behavior, especially when he should focus on the well-being of Aunt Hilda, who has just lost her husband, and grateful that she considers leaving them anything. Should we intervene? The wife Dear wife, Your brother-in-law is a lot of work and his inherited property is a lot of work. In that sense, at least, as God made them, He equaled them. Your brother-in-law might be less self-centered and more compassionate, and it wouldn’t hurt him if he had a charitable bone in his body, but that’s not him and he’s trying to wish he was someone else. that he is an exhausting and ill-advised effort. Accept it for who and what it is, and as a result, both of you will enjoy more restful nights.

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“Remember, if a madman wants to fight you and you finally give in, there are two madmen in that fight instead of one. ”

Her husband regards Aunt Hilda as a dear relative and her property as a gift, while her brother views her property as a lemon that can be squeezed over and over again. What would you say to your brother? “The property required a lot of work over the years and you have benefited from the property for the same amount of time. He decided to accept this inheritance ahead of time and it has worked out very well for him. “If he kept making waves? I would feel compelled to tell him that it is simply unreasonable to constantly push for more. The love and care he lavished on his own property has been directly proportional to the lack of care and duty bestowed on Aunt Hilda’s house, and for all the years that she enjoyed this property, she didn’t. You have to be prepared to stand up for what you think is fair. And remember, if a Crazy wants to fight you and you give in, there will be two crazy people in that fight instead of one. For that reason, I advised Aunt Hilda to hire a probate attorney to draft the documents fairly and directly. pays well to deal with difficult personalities and they have a duty to ensure their clients’ wishes are met. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus to qfottrell@marketwatch.com The Moneyist: ‘Warren Buffett and Harry Potter couldn’t get those two to retire earlier’: Our spendthrift neighbors said our advisor was ‘lousy’. So how come WE retire early? Hello MarketWatchers. Take a look at Moneyist’s private FB Facebook group, -0.58%, where we search for answers to life’s thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all kinds of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or rate the latest Moneyist columns.