My wife and I couldn't have children and we both had successful careers. We retired shortly before the COVID-19 crisis. I have not spoken to or heard of any two of my siblings and their children in the past 10 years.
We own several rental properties that are generating solid income and we live a fairly frugal lifestyle. Our property is valued at approximately $ 7 million. We have a total of six siblings, and my family foundation currently divides our estate evenly between them, regardless of the number of children.
""I feel closer to some of my wife's nieces and nephews than to some of her other nieces and nephews."”
My problem is, my two siblings stopped speaking to me because of my political beliefs (I'm a Trump supporter) and my decision not to be fooled. I have not spoken to or heard from my nieces and nephews in the past 10 years. I find it pathetic to isolate a family member for these reasons, but that is a choice they made.
If I die, I don't want my siblings and their children to inherit millions of dollars from me. I feel closer to some of my wife's nieces and nephews than to any of her other nieces and nephews. I'm considering leaving my half of our estate to just two of their nieces. This could lead to family friction, and that worries me.
What would you advise?
Husband, uncle and brother
Dear husband, uncle and brother,
When confronted with deeply personal decisions, I ask myself: “How will I feel about them?” Against this background, ask yourself: “How would it feel to me to remove my siblings and their children from my will?” Or: "How would I feel if I left the children of my estranged siblings far fewer than my other nieces and nephews?" The answer may or may not be: "Great!"
Thanksgiving dinners in this great and troubled country have undoubtedly had some heated, rooftop, pitchfork-swinging debates between die-hard Republicans and Democrats (and Bernie supporters, let's not forget). The goal is to sit over a plate of turkey breast and cranberry sauce and talk about our differences. Or better yet, pass the salt on and avoid them.
I have lived in this country for 10 years and nothing could have prepared me for the profound divisions between its people along partisan – and ideological – lines. Supporters of various political parties hit social media every second of the day and yes, the media and political class play on the peanut gallery and keep the embers of conflict burning brightly every night.
""At Thanksgiving dinner in America, there was no doubt some heated, rooftop, pitchfork-swinging debates between die-hard Republicans and Democrats."”
But it is a tragedy when this environment tears families apart, brother against brother and generation against generation. It takes a lot of pain and momentum to keep these home fires burning. We all have white lines – what our loved ones do or say or believe – and we never "cross" red lines, and they vary greatly from person to person.
As a rule, I gently warn you not to make final decisions based on anger, righteous or not, even if you think you will be greeted by the same kind of stubborn self-will and political tenacity. What about your $ 7 million? Leave the most generous sums of money to your closest siblings and their children, and perhaps a more modest amount to the children of your estranged siblings.
This symbolic gift says, “I see you and I acknowledge that you are part of our family, and on the day of my death, I want you to know that I truly believe in a time and place where we are all on an equal footing and bring more compassion and understanding to the table on Thanksgiving and any other day of the year, and that all arguments between me and your parents end here. "
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