My brother and his family receive lots of financial support from our mother, his wife’s parents, and sometimes me and my wife. He’s a preschool teacher with no benefits, and he makes only $25K per year to financially support a family with 2 children. I’ve been slightly luckier with finances. My spouse and I have our own business, and make about $110K per year. We also have children, and we don’t receive, nor do we need, financial support from family.
Recently my grandfather passed away and left a relatively small inheritance to his daughter (my mom). She chose to give my less-financially-fortunate brother’s family $5000 from this inheritance but did not offer a similar gift to me. The fact that my mother provides my brother with financial support to help pay the bills does not bother me at all. My brother works very hard, and I think it’s a shame that he doesn’t make more money doing such an important career. However, it does bother me that I was not offered a similar inheritance or at least an explanation of why I did not receive it.
Now, our other grandparent has passed away and there is a significantly greater amount of money being inherited and unequally distributed. This brings up all kinds of conflicting feelings inside me and I’m not sure how I should approach the topic with my family. I just come off sounding greedy if I ask for equal treatment but at the same time I feel that an inheritance should be distributed equally between siblings regardless of their financial status. How should I talk about this with my family? Or should I say nothing?
Don’t say anything. It’s not going to change your mother’s mind, and it’s not your money, anyway. It’s your mother’s. If she wants to spend half of it on your brother and the other half on a wig made from the hair of endangered slug-eating monkeys who live in dark caves in the south of China, that’s her deal. It sucks and it’s not fair, but there it is. In your mother’s eyes, she’s helping your brother, and in your eyes, she’s using the inheritance to say, “Your brother is more important to me than you.”
Imagine if you said something to your mom. I suppose she could say, “Oh, honey, you’re right. I should be more fair and give the money to you, even though you’re successful and don’t seem to need it, while your brother, who slaves away wiping peanut butter off the future leaders of America, has to live in a school bus because he doesn’t have money for rent.” But I’m assuming she won’t. (By the way, it’s very nice that your brother is a preschool teacher, but you say twice how “lucky” you are to do well while he makes a paltry little salary and has two kids. It’s not luck, it’s hard word and good life choices that got you where you are. He’s not curing cancer, he’s teaching preschool. It’s a fine job, but it doesn’t seem to be working out that well for him right now.)
I’m sorry about the loss of your grandparents, and I hope you can just let this go without having a major family rift. Let your mom do what she wants without trouble, and just keep this in mind when it comes time to make your own will.