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Please help me - difficult childhood, mother and my brothers death

(45 Posts)
Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 14:09:06

I grew up in an unhappy home - my mother was either distant or angry.
She always preferred my brother.
My parents marriage was terrible. My father, I now believe was emotionally abused.
Having moved out at 16 I had an on off relationship with her until my father died when I was 26. My mother was 46.
She has since remarried a multi millionaire, they have 2 houses, one with 8 bedrooms, the other with 4. They spend a lot of time travelling and she seems to have mellowed a lot with this lifestyle. She is a fairly good grandmother although I am powerless to curb her lavish presents that she showers on the children to the extent that they cannot appreciate the value of money.
We struggle for money and live very modestly. This is fine - I expect nor want anything from her.
Two years ago my brother contacted me to say that I mustn't tell my mother, but that she was giving him a vast some of money to buy a house as he was single and mid 30's without a deposit. He said he felt uncomfortable with it and wanted to tell me about it.
It was not my proudest moment but I became very very upset with my mother and told her that while she could see the children I felt I didn't want to see her anymore. It felt like all the childhood hurts all over again.
I didn't talk to her for several months. In this time I continued to talk to my brother but he was increasingly upset that I had told her I knew, and felt that I was being unfair to my mother. He remembered our childhood very differently to me and didn't understand why I felt that she was a bad presence in my life. Eventually we just stopped really communicating - it was not an big thing, it was that we just stopped calling each other.
He died suddenly in 2012. I hadn't talked to him in several months, although this was not unusual, our last conversation was not positive.
He did not leave a will.
My mother and I have had an uneasy truce since the funeral and she visits every 2 months.
I have claimed nothing from him whatsoever, nor would dream of doing - my mother has dealt with all of it and I have kept out of it.
Last month I out of the blue received a call, at work, on my direct dial in a a busy office from a pension company to ask if I could confirm that my brother and I were estranged. I spluttered a bit but said, no, I wasn't (I am still unsure if I was or wasn't and that it was my mother from whom I was at that time estranged).

My brother and I were never close, and he was also not close to my mother. Christmas lunch was the only time he saw her for many years, but it transpires that when I decided to go NC with her, he spent quite a lot of time with her. For this I am grateful.

I have just received a letter saying that a very large sum of his pension fund has been awarded to me.

My mother has said that she wants to contest it as he would not have wanted it to go to me and that he hated me for the way I treated her. She is very wealthy, so does not want it for herself. She wants me to give it to charity.

I do not know what to do.

She might be right. I know he thought I was being cruel. Perhaps he wouldn't have wanted it to go to me. All I can think is that she went to sustained effort to persuade the pension company that my brother would not want me to have it - she put time and effort into contacting someone, giving them my work phone number specifically to stop me having something she did not want or need.

It is enough money to put my children through university, not a small sum. I wonder if I should put it into trust for them - it would seem to be something she would like and avoids controversy. But at the same time it could allow me to be a SAHM - who is to say they wouldn't benefit more from that? I don't know what the moral thing to do is.

Please help? I feel so sad. I have no family. I was petulant with my mother and it destroyed my relationship with my brother and now he's gone.

neolara Fri 06-Jun-14 14:15:52

I'm sorry. You mother sounds absolutely horrible.

Don't give the money to charity. There is no certainty at all that what your mother says should happen is what your brother would have wanted. She may think she knows. She may even possibly be right, but she could just as easily be wrong. She clearly has her own balmy agenda going on that goes back decades.

In the worse case senario of your dm getting so cross that she goes no contact, it doesn't sound like it would be a great loss in the long run to your life.

Purpleroxy Fri 06-Jun-14 14:18:54

He would want you to have it, he was clearly very uncomfortable when you didn't get money from your mum but he did.

She sounds like a spiteful old witch wanting to get this money herself and give it to charity rather than allowing her daughter and grandchildren to (massively) benefit from it.

Helpys Fri 06-Jun-14 14:19:15

sad
What a pickle.
In the bigger scheme of your childhood, your strange mum now and the money being useful I think you should keep it- he was young and it's unlikely you'd have stayed estranged for ever.
But surely she'd 'reclaim' it via not bequeathing you anything in the future; she might well do that anyway.
Is there a fair third party who could help you both discuss it?

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 14:27:11

Thank you all for taking the time to reply. I want to do the right thing. I want to be able to live with myself - I do not care one jot for the money. I want to untie all the mess that is with it - for me, a certain amount of it is deciding how much we had fallen out. If she is right, I owe it to him to give it to the wetlands centre she believes he would have supported.

Helpys - I do not think it self pitying or over the top to believe that anything she could bequeath in the future would come to me. It will skip a generation and that is not a problem. I also know she keeps her finances separate from her husbands and his are ring fenced for the Bluebell Railway line. He has no children. He is an exceptional step grandfather and I like him very much. He adores my mother and things she is a lot of things I know she is not. This is fine - its a good picture to paint for the children that will never know how I feel about her.

I am sorry to read about your dad and your brother's deaths thanks

Your mother gave birth to you but her responsibility then stopped there. She has been a toxic, awful mother to you throughout your entire life and now wants you to give your late brother's money from his pension fund to charity!.

It sounds like you are still very much in FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) with regards to your mother as you seem to tell her pretty much everything that happens in your life. You need to seriously stop doing that as well as seeking her approval because she will not ever give you what you still so want from her.

It is NOT your fault she is the way she is.

Your late brother would have made instructions (of his own free will and your details were on that form) to his employers re his pension and he decided freely to name you as his beneficiary (he had no wife and dependents himself). He also had no father and was estranged from his mother, he did not get along at all well with her and the only visits at Christmas were duty ones.

What is there really to contest re his pension fund money?. They found you. Your mother on the other hand still wants to stick the knife into you.

Accept the funds and get your toxic mother out of your life once and for all!. She has brought nothing but pain into your life and would deprive you and your children of a brighter future out of sheer bloody mindedness on your part by trying to fill your head with nonsense about your brother's wishes. She is also a terrible example of a grandparent to your children by giving them such lavish presents i.e buying their affections.

If you find your mother too difficult to deal with she is certainly the same for your vulnerable and defenceless children.

CarpeJugulum Fri 06-Jun-14 14:34:35

I'd say it's yours.

If he didn't want you to have it, then he could have removed you as a beneficiary from his pension. But he didn't. What your monther thinks is irrelevant;

Your mother is that cruel that she would actively want to deprieve you of funds which you would yourself use to provide for your childrens future.

Re this comment:-
"He adores my mother and things she is a lot of things I know she is not. This is fine - its a good picture to paint for the children that will never know how I feel about her"

He may well adore her but that's up to him. It will not do you and your children any favours at all for any family to paint a false image of their grandmother to them. I am sure on some level that they have seen your own unhappiness around their nan when you are all in the same room.

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 14:38:51

Thank you Attila. I feel the best thing is to maintain a cautious distance but allow her to see the children - they after all see her very differently from me. Their relationship is a different one from my own. I loved my Grandparents deeply and would not want to deprive them of anything.

It's more of a moral thing. I guess I want to KNOW I am doing the right thing so that she cannot judge me for it. I refuse to be the bad person any more than I have to be in this awful mess.

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 14:42:12

FWIW He died without leaving a will - it has been split 50/50 between my mother and myself. I didn't ask for it. I didn't claim for it.

I have literally no idea what happened to everything else he owned - I went nowhere near that mine field. The pension company however found me. I am unsure how. It may be that he put something on it - I don't know how it works.

Fudgeface123 Fri 06-Jun-14 14:48:53

**Two years ago my brother contacted me to say that I mustn't tell my mother, but that she was giving him a vast some of money to buy a house as he was single and mid 30's without a deposit. He said he felt uncomfortable with it and wanted to tell me about it.
It was not my proudest moment but I became very very upset with my mother and told her that while she could see the children I felt I didn't want to see her anymore. It felt like all the childhood hurts all over again**

You said it's not about money so why did you fall out with your mother because she gave your brother money for a house?

This woman, your mother, has lavished your children with gifts and has caused them and you problems in that they now do not appreciate the value of money. She is buying their affections materially, she likely does not give a fig for them on any sort of emotional level.

Some grandparents really should not be allowed access to their grandchildren. Perhaps you only allowed access initially because you were hoping against hope that she would behave better with the new generation. She is not a good role model of a grandparent and was a dysfunctional parent to you and your late sibling as children. She has fundamentally not altered her behaviours.

If you do continue to allow her to see the children (and I would urge you to think more about doing that anyway given her own past and present behaviours towards you) you need to at the very least have your own boundaries as to what is and what is not acceptable to you re her behaviour. You can call a halt to her lavish present buying for a start.

Your brother named you of his own free will as his beneficiary to his pension fund. I would urge you to take the money and cut all contact with her. I think her telling you that your brother would not have wanted you to have this money is just the latest in a long line of her own emotional cruelty towards you.

sebsmummy1 Fri 06-Jun-14 14:49:35

I think the trust fund is an excellent idea, your Mother has no right to tell you how to spend this money or that you must give it away. I personally think it is rightfully yours, however I'm concerned about her threatening to contest the legacy and I would hate for you to spend more money out on legal fees.

Why not inform her that you plan on instructing a solicitor to set up a trust fund in your children's names which they will receive when they are eighteen. I can't imagine she will have any problems with that and your family still benefit.

"I have literally no idea what happened to everything else he owned - I went nowhere near that mine field. The pension company however found me. I am unsure how. It may be that he put something on it - I don't know how it works".

I would think that your mother as his next of kin took everything from his estate and further feathered her own lavish nest. I am not surprised though that you did not go anywhere near that minefield because it certainly would have been one and would have given your mother even more opportunities to stick the boot into you.

The pension company found you because your brother named you on the pension forms that he filled out. He did not want his mother to have the money (he did not like her and besides which he knew she had money). He wanted you to have it instead.

I again would accept the money and with a clear conscience. You have done nothing wrong here in your brother's eyes. Infact he has been more honest with you than I daresay your mother ever has. She would like to see you go without (you perhaps on some level remind her of your Dad, a person that she herself despised).

I would consider seeking legal advice from a Solicitor and speak to a couple of them on your own before making up your mind about how these funds are placed with regards to your children. You need decent financial and legal advice.

Do not tell your mother anything to do with your life any more. It will all be used by her against you.

Finola1step Fri 06-Jun-14 14:59:06

I'm really sorry about your brother and dad passing.

I see this pension money quite clearly. You did not ask for the money but under inheritance law, it has been awarded to you. Therefore, no one can tell you what to do with it, it is your choice.

Your brother did not leave a will so no one can say exactly how this money should be spent.

Therefore, put the money in a trust fund for your brother's neices/nephews if he had no children of his own. If your own dc are the only recepients of such fund, so be it. Did he have any other neices or nephews? If so, share the money equally.

Let the money bypass you and pass onto the next generation. Surely your own mother wouldn't begrudge her dgc receiving the money?

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 15:04:58

Hi Fudgeface

At the time, it felt like my relationship with her written out in large letters. She wanted to do something significant for him that she would not do for me. My inner 5 year old had a million of those moments and I reacted badly. Since his death I have had a lot of soul searching to do and no longer begrudge her right to so exactly as she saw fit to do with her money. It was, and always has been, that I am very much aware that she did not love me as she did him. We all do what we can to cope - I bitterly regret it now. Without that stupidity I would have had a chance to know my brother was dying in hospital. It was my own fault I was not in contact with them.

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 15:05:56

Thank you Finola. I think you are right. I think it's the morally right thing to do. I think I would sleep better at night not believing I had benefited from it.

Wealden Fri 06-Jun-14 15:11:27

Attila thank you for your replies. My brother was not close to my mother but they got along. She loved him very much. He lived a very jetset lifestyle and didh't see her but they phoned one another a lot.

Quitelikely Fri 06-Jun-14 15:18:20

Money is the root of all evil. Can you ask her if she would approve it going into trust for your children? Did you ask her why you weren't deemed suitable for a cash injection to put towards your property?

It's tricky. I don't think I would risk her taking you to court. The costs could spiral out of control.

Have you asked her why she favouritised your brother? Get it all out to her. You've got nothing to lose as far as I can see.

Your late brother named you on his pension forms and that was done of his own free will. He perhaps came to realise that you were not at all favoured by his mother; he himself had a very distant relationship with her during his life and his own lifestyle reads very differently to your own.

Her "love" for your brother was very much conditional as well.

I do not think she would ever give you a straight answer as to why your brother was more favoured throughout. Its NOT your fault this dysfunction is in your birth family; if anyone is at fault here it is your mother. She likely as well did emotionally abuse your Dad.

Any further communication re his pension fund money will just give her a further opportunity to put the boot in to you. Seek legal and financial advice and use it for your childrens own futures.

Corygal Fri 06-Jun-14 15:44:17

Keep the money for your kids - tell your mother that's what's happening, and ignore anything else she says. Awful old trout.

springydaffs Fri 06-Jun-14 23:54:54

Who cares what your mother thinks? She's hardly proved herself as someone whose opinion is worth considering. Maybe you've got into the habit of defining your life in response to her criticisms - perhaps start defining your life by your opinions and from your own view of what life is and should be. (I know this is easy to say and hard to do, I have had a similar lifelong critic and it's not easy to escape their judgements, they go so deep - going in the opposite direction is still a response to their criticisms.)

Absolutely you should take the money - by law, you and your mother were natural beneficiaries of your brother's estate. It is not for your mother to dictate how you spend it. Don't give it all to the kids, spend a lot of it on yourself. You deserve some kind of reward for the awful hand you were dealt with a mother like that.

I'm so sorry your brother has died and that you have a shit mother.

springydaffs Sat 07-Jun-14 09:51:05

I should say 'the awful hand you were both dealt with a mother like that'. Take the credit that you and your brother did well to have a relationship that was civil, though it was naturally sometimes strained because the witch was in the background, twisting everything.

middleeasternpromise Sat 07-Jun-14 11:17:25

I think you should take the money and use a small portion to get your self a few sessions of good quality therapy that helps you put your others relationship with you, in a very clear frame of reference. Right now it sounds like you are blighted with guilt and endless dilemmas 'trying to do the right thing' that suggests all your interactions with your mother completely strip away any sense of self and leaves you fighting for survival when you have to deal with her. She doesn't have this problem because she has a very clear view of how she sees yours and hers relationship. You can have this too but you will need help to get it. This will also help you come to terms with how things went with your brother. You rightly know this complex web of family difficulties stems from the home life created by your parents. Money is money its a resource, I don't personally believe it carries any meaning but people can give it meaning due to their mind set. It was left to you and not the Wetlands centre Im sure they could put it to good use but so can you. Regarding your children, do not let them see their grandmother in the unfettered way you have you risk her splitting them from you, you need to give them context for the family story as you see it this is how history can keep repeating in families unless there is learning from the tragic stories - take control of this situation and you will be much much happier.

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