Dear Life Kit: I cared for our dad. Now my greedy siblings want the inheritance She cared for her stepdad through illness and death. Now she's disheartened that her siblings only seem to care about the inheritance. Financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin weighs in.

Dear Life Kit: I cared for our dad. Now my greedy siblings want the inheritance

Dear Life Kit: I cared for our dad. Now my greedy siblings want the inheritance

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Photos by Jacques Bopp/Unsplash, Becky Harlan/NPR
Photo collage of a house sitting on a pile of money. The house is divided into three pieces. Coins rain down from the sky. The scene is surrounded by a frame of mail, letters, envelopes, and stamps.
Photos by Jacques Bopp/Unsplash, Becky Harlan/NPR

Need some really good advice? Look no further than Dear Life Kit. In each episode, we pose one of your most pressing questions to an expert. This question was answered by Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, a social worker-turned-certified financial therapist, host of the Mind Money Balance podcast and author of the book The Financial Anxiety Solution. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Dear Life Kit,

My husband and I had been taking care of elderly step-father until he passed away. He had no biological children, and I had been in charge of his affairs for several years. I saw him faithfully two times a week. I had to drive over 100 miles round trip. I was with him a full week in the hospital and when he passed away in Hospice. I planned his memorial service.

My siblings saw him infrequently. What is disheartening, is they all seem to want their inheritance. They are rude to me and I am, frankly, embarrassed by their greed. He did not need to leave us a penny. He took care of our mother for over 40 years. Is this normal behavior? They will receive the same amount of money as me. Yet, it is most disturbing that they did not seem to love him as I do. This keeps me awake at night. — Inheriting bad feelings

Lindsay Bryan-Podvin is a financial therapist and the author of The Financial Anxiety Solution: A Step-by-Step Workbook to Stop Worrying about Money, Take Control of Your Finances, and Live a Happier Life. Maria Maldonado hide caption

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Maria Maldonado

This type of question about fairness and who gets what comes up all the time [in conversations about] inheritance. So you're not alone in feeling confused, frustrated and unsure of what to do.

I think it's very rare for it to be worth it to redistribute the money. That would mean having to get lawyers involved, having to go to court, having to potentially prove that your stepfather was not in a competent state of mind when he wrote his will and trust. At this point in time, the money's already distributed.

But do you talk to your siblings about it? Yes. Be cognizant of what you think you're going to get out of it. We can't rewind the hands of time. We can't make your siblings go drive to your stepfather. You can't get back the time that you've spent there. So rather than saying 'this isn't fair, you owe me more money,' I would invite you to say, 'Look, it wasn't until our stepdad passed that I really realized how much energy and effort I'd exerted. I'm not complaining about the time that I spent with him and cared for him. I just want to let you guys know that moving forward, I don't think I have the capacity to do that again.' Use this as an opportunity to set boundaries with your siblings.

So often as humans, we conflate money with other things. Often times we associate money with power or control [or love]. But the reality is that love and money are not a proxy for one another. The stepfather made a conscientious decision to give each of his stepchildren an equal amount. Those were his wishes. What you have to do in this situation is honor the legacy that he wanted to leave for the kids.

You have something that your siblings don't — a stronger relationship [with your stepfather]. And I would recommend that you pause and hold space for the opportunity [you had] to spend that time together.

Keep your head and heart toward what matters for you and how you can honor your stepfather's legacy. What are the things that you need to do financially and emotionally to take care of yourself? And worry less about whether or not it's fair that your siblings got the same amount of money as you.

Listen to Lindsay Bryan-Podvin's full response in the audio at the top of the page or on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Have a question for Dear Life Kit? Share it anonymously here.


Dear Life Kit is hosted by Andee Tagle and produced by Beck Harlan and Sylvie Douglis with help from our intern Jamal Michel. Bronson Arcuri is the managing producer and Meghan Keane is the supervising editor. Alicia Zheng produces the Dear Life Kit video series for Instagram.

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