Loser in-laws

As you may remember, my mother’s husband (Turkka) died on New Year’s Eve. Now the hands are out.

One of Turk’s brothers (oh… let’s call him “Erikki”) Sent my mom a letter recently asking for “his share” of his brother’s estate. When my mom and her Turk made out their trusts, Turk specifically stated that the only recipients of his estate would be specifically enumerated in the Trust. To wit: If he died first, my mom would get everything. (My mother’s trust is the same. If she had died first, then Turk would have gotten everything. Upon the death of the survivor, my sister and I would inherit the entire estate.) This is how the trust is written. No one has any claim to the estate except for my mother (and later, me and my sister). In short, “Erikki” gets nothing.

“Erikki” should have an “L” tattoed on his forehead. Alcoholic, ever in legal difficulties, defrauding Social Security, &c., &c. Turk had said that he would “help him out, but never give him a hand-out”. Turk was very hurt when, after travelling 2,000 miles to the East Coast, “Erikki” would not drive 50 miles to meet them for a free brunch. Money sent to “Erikki”'s sons in their Christmas and birthday cards was taken out by “Erikki”. The mother said the cards always arrived opened. Turk basically wrote “Erikki” out of his life.

The other brother (let’s call him “Markku”), who lives in the same area as my mom and Turk, disappeared for a week a year ago February and turned up in a hospital with one sock too many. Diabetes had claimed a leg below the knee. “Markku” was happy because he would “get $1,200 a month from Social Security and would never have to work again”. Um… nope. Even a leg-minus, he has less of a limp than I do. He’s perfectly able to find employment if he wants to.

“Markku” doesn’t want to work. His last job was moving sheet metal in a mill. Obviously, he probably can’t do that anymore. Before that, he was a draughtsman. He says he can’t stand for eight hours, so he’s unable to get a job that requires it; but a draughtsman can sit. Nope. Draughting is done on computers nowadays, and he can only use a pencil and straightedge. He did turn up for two classes a few years ago, to learn how to use CAD. When my mom and Turk were having brunch with him, the instructor happened by. “Why haven’t you come back to class?” he asked. “Everyone is young, and [mumble mumble mumble]. And I’m just not ‘getting it’.” “Well,” said the instructor, “Just come to class early and I’ll help you.” “Oh, yeah; I can do that.” Do I need to say that he never went back?

“Markku” lives in a trailer. His neighbours come to his place because they don’t work either and their gas has been shut off. They go to get a hot shower. And they don’t have cable, so they bring beer and hang out. “Trailer trash”, anyone? “Markku” got a grant from Welfare, and was disappointed to learn that it was a one-time thing. No money coming in. He’s been “borrowing” money from people, and telling them that he’s "coming into an inheritance from his “rich brother” – who left 1/3 of the estate to him, 1/3 to “Erikki”, and 1/3 to my mom. (How generous, allowing 1/3 to my mom!) He knows he’s getting nothing. Now he’s about to be evicted from his trailer. Turk gave him several suggestions for jobs he might take – before and after “Markku” lost his leg. Of course, “Markku” made excuses as to why he could not get any sort of job. The man just wants to sit on his arse all day, watching sports and drinking beer.

“Markku”'s live-in girlfriend talked to my mom on the phone and the first thing she said was, “I’m beautiful, artistic, creative, and have a background in law-enforcement.” As if this would somehow intimidate my mom into forking over $1,000. Then she graciously said that they’d pay it back. My mom wondered how she would pay it back if she didn’t have a job. (She claims to be suffering from pancreatitis and can’t work. My mom says she should stop drinking.) My mom told “Markku” she doesn’t want to talk to him anymore.

Look. My mom isn’t rich. She owns the house she and my dad bought in San Diego. If she were to sell it, she’d get a bundle. But she’s letting it out for some much needed income. She has to use some of the money for repairs (the house is about 40 years old), and she hurts when there are no tenants. She’s been in her new house for not much more than a year, so there’s not a lot of equity. They had to move out of California because they couldn’t afford to live there! And yet, she’s the greedy widow who’s sitting on a pile of gold a meter high. :rolleyes:

I’ve had some disappointments in my life. I counted upon being a Naval Aviator my whole life, until I wrecked my knees in high school; to name one example. I picked myself up and did something else. (And learned to fly without government assistance.) When I lost my (very good) job, I was unemployed for five months. I’m employed now, and making half what I used to. But I took the job. Of course I need the income; but the other thing is that sitting around the house was driving me insane! I can’t stand not having somewhere to be, where I’m performing a useful function. How anyone can like sitting around all day, every day, watching TV and drinking beer is beyond me. Working is not only about the money (obviously, since I consider myself underemployed), but about the feeling that I’m a productive part of society. If I won the world’s biggest lottery, I would still work. Sure, it would probably be in a money-losing operation like helicopter flight training or filmmaking; but I’d be doing something. I don’t understand how people could want to collect “free money from the governent” and do nothing.

Need Universal Health Care? I’m fine with my taxes being spent on it. Need job retraining? By all means, let my meagre tax contribution go toward it. But don’t pay people who are able to work, and for whom there are jobs available if they’d only apply, if they “just don’t want to” find employment.

“Erikki” and “Markku”, you’re losers. Get off of your arses and do something. You’re not “entitled” to an inheritance. Your brother made a conscious decision, based upon your past actions, to exclude you from his will. He said as much in a legally-binding document. Get over it.

Wow. :eek: Just wow. Good luck in fighting off the parasites.

Add 6 sisters and it sounds like my mother’s family!

What a couple of bums.
Good luck to you and your mother dealing with them.

Your mom sounds like a very capable lady.

I don’t suppose she can get an answering machine and start screening her calls, so she doesn’t have to put up with the “ku” losers?

Oh, I forgot… In addition to it being less than a year after Turkka died (cardiac arrest in the car after letting my mother out to summon help, died at the wheel, foot hit accellerator and totalled the car, laid out on the sidewalk with my mother there), mom’s been in and out of the hospital for gallstone surgery. And she has a spot on a lung. She hasn’t said, “I have cancer.” but she did say yesterday “I have an appointment for the lung cancer.” So she’s lost her husband, in poor health, living in 100°+ temperatures and afraid of the cost of using the air conditioner (incidentally, she’d freeze up here). Now she has to deal with one deadbeat brother-in-law who won’t even look for work because he’s “handicapped” (“Poor me!”), and another BIL who steals from his own kids and couldn’t be bothered to interact with Turk when he was alive; but now that he’s dead, is suddenly making contact. (“Sorry to hear about my brother. Where’s the money?”)

When my dad died, neither my sister nor I wanted to deal with the estate. We just wanted our dad back. We did deal with it, of course; and that’s how I was able to get the downpayment for my house. But every form we had to file, and everything we had to liquidate just reminded us that dad was never coming back. Not looking forward to doing it again. Fortunately, mom has promised to “be a lingerer”. Every day I wish I could talk to my dad. I understand that “Erikki” and “Markku” need money because of their sloth or “poor decisions”; but they don’t seem to care about Turk at all. Just his bank account.

As for me, I’d known Turk for years. He was a “taciturn Finn”. Didn’t talk much. But he loved aircraft. (Dad even helped him to get his private pilot certificate.) Although we were different people, we had common ground about which we could talk. More; he loved my mother and she, him. They loved going up to the Reno Air Races. They missed the races in 2000, and their plans to attend in 2001 were cancelled by the nationwide grounding of aircraft. Circumstances prevented them going in 2002 and 2003, and he was looking forward to the races in 2004. He was a nice guy. At 6’ 5" and 17 stone, a gentle giant of a man.

ivylass: I suggested she change her phone number. She’d already considered it, and may do. I also told her she should change her locks. “Markku” has a key. She says she doesn’t think he’d come in and steal anything (“That would be too much like work.”); but I pointed out that if – in his mind – she is withholding what he feels is his, then he may feel justified. She’ll probably change the locks.

Great turn of phrase. :slight_smile:

Best of luck by the way.

I’m surprised that brothers would expect anything from a will. My brothers and I will all leave everything to spouses and children. Maybe I could get my brother’s Pings cause his kids don’t golf but I’d pay something for them.

As to your mother’s affairs, do I read this right - she has a little equity (and presumably a lot of debt) in the place she lives in and also owns a rental property that requires a bit of work, is not always rented and represents a decent capital resource.

While I appreciate how varied and complicated investment matters are have you had someone look at the disposition of you mother’s resources. Taken at face value (assuming my comprehension is good) her situation wouldn’t make sense in Australia. If she could get tax advantages against another source of income keeping a low earning property could be sensible if it produces capital growth but getting low earnings while paying interest on another loan would not make sense.

If she were here and assuming that the San Diego property is worth a bundle the kind of thing she would be advised to do would be:

sell the SD property
discharge any loans without tax advantages
acquire equity in cheaper and newer rental properties with positive income.

Well it’s a bit pie in the sky to even talk about it but if my understanding of her affairs is right please have a nose around because it seems fundamentally wrong to me that she has a worthwhile capital asset while worried about running the A/C. People (women in particular) can get set in their ways about finances if they have little active involvement. You’d be surprised how many elderly people struggle unnecessarily just because thay are unwilling to move house.

Almost. The house in San Diego is older, and older houses need more upkeep than newer ones. For example it wants painting. But the house itself is sound. Tenants have been a problem. San Diego, in addition to being a “resort destination”, is a “seafaring town”. There’s a large Naval base there, as well as MCAS (formerly NAS) Miramar (formerly the home of “Top Gun”). Military personnel get deployed, and tuna boat captains can be subject to the vagaries of the catch. It seems that she has a new tenant every year or two. Whenever a tenant moves out, there is cleaning to do to make it presentable. And there’s occasional landscaping. But “requires a bit of work” might not be accurate. I think it’s just the normal maintenance of a rental property. Fortunately, my sister and family live in San Diego and can help out.

My mom told me, when she had the house appraised to establish a new “base” for the Trust, that she collected $19,200 (U.S., obviously) in rent last year. That’s the exact amount that she and my dad paid for the house in the mid-'60s. Of course when your painting estimate is $10,000 and you depend on the income, it can hurt when the place isn’t rented.

Mom has thought about selling it. I have not offered her an opinion because it’s her property. But here’s my opinion: California is the most populous state in the union. People keep moving there, and they’re not making any more land. Houses in large metropolitan areas can only increase in value. The longer she keeps it, the more it’s worth. As the population grows, rents will increase. I think it would be better for her to hold onto it. As long as it’s rented, she has a monthly income. I think this would be better than having the money sit in a bank. (I lost some money in the stock market; and with the revelations of corporate mis-deads, I’m leary about investing there.)

As for the disposition of my mother’s resources, that’s something I hope will not be an issue for a long, long time. (She’s 70 and in not-so-good health, but I can always hope.)