My selfish children are trying to SUE me over their inheritance

Dear Jane,

I am 70 years old, widowed for two years, and recently decided that the time has come to sell my home. I have three children, all of whom are grown up and have long since flown the nest, and the house is just too big for me to rattle around in on my own. I want to downsize and find something more affordable so that I can save some money. 

Who knows what the future may bring but I don’t want to find myself in a position where I’m forced to turn to my children to cover medical costs or funeral costs or anything else. 

However, when I sat my kids down to tell them about my decision, they threw what can only be described as a disgusting tantrum. 

They claimed that I was trying to destroy their childhood memories and the final memories of their father by selling the family home. They demanded that I hand the house over to them, that they will rent it out and that I can use that money to live off. 

I said no. I am ready to move on, the house – to me – is just a constant reminder of the husband I have lost, and I don’t want any kind of permanent tie to it anymore.

Now the kids have told me they’ve enlisted a lawyer to try and legally stop me from selling the property. They claim it’s their inheritance and that I’m trying to keep the money away from them.

The last thing I wanted at this point in my life was to get involved in some horrendous family feud. I’m absolutely disgusted by their behavior and can’t get over how selfish they’re being.

Their father would be furious with them, but at this point I don’t know whether the easiest thing to do is just give them what they want so I can live in peace without the threat of a lawsuit at the hands of my own children.

From, Mortified Mother

Dear Jane, I am a 70-year-old widow who wants to sell my large family home – but my children insist the property is their inheritance and are now suing me to stop me from offloading it

Dear Mortified Mother,

What a horrible thing you are going through, and it does feel rather as if you are caught between a rock and a hard place – doing what you want risks alienating your children and presumably grandchildren forever, and doing what they want not only ignores your own needs, but leaves you in a precarious position financially. 

And, given that keeping a house you no longer want is likely to lead to such resentment, it seems to me that your relationship with them will change no matter what, if it hasn’t already. 

International best-selling author offers sage advice on readers' most burning issues in her weekly Dear Jane agony aunt column

International best-selling author offers sage advice on readers’ most burning issues in her weekly Dear Jane agony aunt column

But you do have options available to you.

First of all, you need to consult with a lawyer and perhaps a tax attorney so they can examine how you and your children might all be able to achieve what you want. 

There would seem to be several possible roads you can go down. Whether it’s giving your children the opportunity to buy the house (which I imagine is legally yours), or perhaps (and I don’t know your financial circumstances), you help ‘finance’ their purchasing of the house in return for a monthly stipend enabling you to live.

Which doesn’t deal with the emotional trauma of having your children treat you like this, and how alone you must feel. 

There is a part of me that so wants to tell you to tell them where to shove it, and yet there would be no winning with that option. You are 70 now, and all the research shows that we only get lonelier as we get older. I cannot think of anything worse than falling out with your entire family at this stage of your life.

Bring in some experts, look at the options, bring your children into those conversations and meetings so they can be a part of you all working this out. It doesn’t have to be A or B, there are many creative ways you can find to make all of you if not entirely happy, then at least comfortable.

Dear Jane, 

I have been in a relationship for four years but his mother doesn’t like me due to my identity. I am a visa holder who is not a permanent resident in this country. 

He has fought a lot for us and argued with his family, and as you can imagine, things didn’t go well. We are both Christian so we prayed a lot because we want our families’ blessing but it is proving incredibly difficult to get.

Without the issue of our families, the relationship is wonderful. We look after each other, we are focused on our jobs and studying. 

But sometimes, I felt lonely and frustrated. I understand that I don’t need the approval of his family to define who I am as a person. But I cannot stop myself from thinking about my future and where this is all going…. What I want and how to do it.

I am happy with my boyfriend, but I cannot push him to fight with his family for my sake.

Things between me and his mother were getting better last year, after we attended a few family events together – but we still don’t talk much or feel like we can properly connect.

I tried to let go and leave the country but it is too difficult for me to leave him.. How can I know how to keep going or should I give up?

I know I should look after myself and put my needs first. But I’ve built a home here and don’t want to have to leave the friends that I’ve made. I feel stuck in limbo and I’m not sure which way to turn, especially without my family here to support me.

From, How to Love Myself

Dear How to Love Myself,

My heart goes out to you, for there is nothing lonelier than dealing with a feeling of being disliked when you have left your country of origin and a family you love. 

What you don’t say is how your boyfriend feels about his family treating you like this, only that you cannot push him to fight with his family, which leads me to believe that on top of everything else, you feel unsupported by your partner.

Dear Jane’s Sunday Service 

We think our childhoods are hard, navigating whatever difficulties and dysfunctions exist in our families, looking forward to becoming adults, when we have our own agency and choices, and no longer have to suffer, and yet these letters show that these difficulties can last a lifetime. 

Looking after ourselves, emotionally and mentally, can mean making the hardest choices of all, but ultimately blood isn’t necessarily thicker than water, and a solid family of choice can be far healthier than those bound to us by blood.

This is what I do know: unless your boyfriend is fully supportive of you, telling his family that he has chosen you and that they have to respect not only his choice, but you, this is only going to get worse. The fact that this is causing you enough pain to write to me – without the two of you being married, without children involved – tells me that it isn’t just his family’s treatment of you that hurts so much, but that he isn’t standing up for you, which is contributing to your loneliness and isolation. 

I imagine he feels caught in the middle, pulled in both directions, unable to satisfy either of the two most important women in his life, and yet by not standing firm with his family, he is showing you your future.

I don’t know that you have to necessarily return home if you have built a life for yourself, but I do know that unless your boyfriend chooses you, as in, makes it very clear to his family that you are his life partner and that he will not tolerate them treating you with anything other than kindness and respect, this will not be an easy life for you.

Together, I think the two of you can achieve anything, but only if he is fully committed to you and stands up for you to his family. 

Otherwise, you are looking at more pain and upset. Have this conversation with him, calmly and lovingly. He has to support you, and make that very clear to his family. If he isn’t able or willing to do that, then we both know the answer to your question.

I wish you well and am sending you a large, supportive hug.

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