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Dealing with the siblings after the parents' death

MontegutMontegut 5518 replies606 threads Senior Member
Starting a new thread, rather than put this on the Parents Caring for Parents Thread, though it's probably been touched on there.

Anyway, Mom has been gone for three years. Father in Law has been gone for four years. For my mom, I have three storage units full of furniture, boxes, that no one wants me to donate, but no one has room for in their home. For years, I paid for the rental out of Mom's funds, but since Mom is gone, I've been paying it myself.

My out of town brother will turn 50 this year, and his wife asked us to go in the unit and find pictures and scan them and send for her to do a slide show. I asked my local retired sister to help with this, as I work full-time now, and she refused. She said her husband does not want any boxes brought into their apartment. She hasn't driven since her retirement in January, and is now walking with a walker. She will be wheelchair bound like my Mom was in no time. She has an abusive husband, so he will be no help with this, either. Anyway, I digress.

Hoping to get insight from some of you who have been through this. I am ready to put the antique furniture, boxes, in the dumpster. My brother expressed interest in some of the furniture, but has yet to come to town to get it. So has the other out of town sister. The two of us who remain in town have no desire or room for it either. The grandchildren have taken some of the items, but don't have room or desire for it.

I'm fit to be tied because now, ten years after moving my mom out of the family home, I'm getting these annoying requests for specific things in the units, that I'm supposed to go in and find and scan and distribute. Like, the wife of a grandchild wants to research geneology, and I had to meet her at the units to go through boxes for her to find items which she then expected me to scan for her. And now, my brother's wife wants me to scan childhood pictures.

So, anyway, they expect these items to be kept secure, for them to go back to on a whim, but do they not realize that these storage units cost money?

Sorry for the long post, but I am at wit's end with this group!

52 replies
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Replies to: Dealing with the siblings after the parents' death

  • TwicerTwicer 166 replies2 threads Junior Member
    You can get rid of the furniture, then consolidate the boxes in (hopefully) one unit.
    If the furniture is in decent condition, you can donate it to a charity that picks up donations (and you can schedule the pickup for the date convenient to you). Let all the relatives know about a month prior that your plan is to get rid of the furniture on X date, so they have an opportunity to come get the items they may want, but don't let it drag on.
    Regarding the scanning - no, you should not be doing the scanning for other family members. If they asked, you should have said no.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 26826 replies269 threads Senior Member
    Regarding photos and other paper momentos and such, I would imagine you could hire someone to scan them for yourself and your family for not much money relative to the $ you are spending for storage costs. You could hire some teen, college student, housewife or retired person looking for some extra cash. They can scan all that stuff for you and you could send files out to family members or store it online somewhere in a shared account. Let the digital age be your friend.
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  • LVKrisLVKris 539 replies6 threads Member
    Sorry you are going through this, Montegut.

    What is your end goal? To close up all the storage units and distribute or donate the stuff? To keep the units and have everyone chip in to pay for them? To have everyone stop making demands on your time with searching and scanning chores?

    If you are bearing the cost by yourself, and you want to be rid of the expense, you could certainly impose a deadline. Tell everyone you are closing the storage units on X date. If they don't retrieve the stuff they want by then, then they can pay for storage themselves.

    I know. Easier said than done. You will likely end up compromising to preserve family harmony. Just make sure that everyone understands that the current situation will not go on indefinitely.
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  • HarvestMoon1HarvestMoon1 6200 replies28 threads Senior Member
    Agree with the advice in #1. In the meantime I would give them the code or duplicate keys to the storage facility. Advise them in an email that they are free to access the unit for their needs at any time prior to the date you have given them for terminating the contract with the storage facility.

    You have already been very accommodating.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9995 replies387 threads Senior Member
    Tell your siblings you're closing down the units. Give them a specific date and tell them anything they want needs to be removed from the units by that date. You don't need a reason, and I wouldn't entertain discussions about sharing payments either. At the end of that time, dispose of the items however you want.

    I would keep the photos and family records and give away or sell everything else. Anyone who wanted to scan photos or documents would have to come to my house at my convenience. I don't let the originals go and I'm not a copying service, so they'd have to scan them to my computer and bring a thumb drive to save them on.
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  • SouthFloridaMom9SouthFloridaMom9 3416 replies30 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2016
    Ummm no . . . you have been very generous with your time and energy already.

    I would set a firm date, even if it's 6 months from now, when the storage units will be emptied and the stuff disbursed first-come, first-serve (what doesn't get picked up gets donated).

    If you want you could ask everyone to chip in for a service to scan all pictures and put them online for everyone to pick what they want. And then the hard copies will be available until a certain date.

    Sorry you're stuck dealing with this. People just don't think sometimes.
    edited September 2016
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  • MomofJandLMomofJandL 2105 replies41 threads Senior Member
    Sorry you are dealing with this. We have a pile of stuff that's been in my living room for 6 months from MIL/FIL's place. I won't put it in the basement until DH clears out stuff to make room for it, and will not put it in storage because that is just putting off a decision. So I feel your pain.

    I agree with those who say you can't rely on your family to help you pay for it, you have to make it their problem. Come and get it or it gets pitched. I know right now that no one is ever going to go through the pictures DH rescued from his family home, but he can't face that thought yet. Your siblings can't either.

    Keep your emails and letters to your family. You may need to remind them a few times in the coming years how many chances they had to come and deal with this clutter. You have been more than patient and generous with them.
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  • HImomHImom 36051 replies396 threads Senior Member
    We have our carport filled with stuff from my late MIL and FIL. They've been dead 21+ years now. My BIL has stuff from late SisIL (his sister). It's a LOT of stuff. We have offered for BIL to take whatever he wants and H has to clear the carport before he buys a new car. It has cluttered the carport from when we moved into this house over 2 decades ago!

    You are very kind and gave allowed yourself to be imposed on. Time to be firm and set rules and deadlines in writing. So sorry you're dealing with this.
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  • anothermom2anothermom2 1705 replies48 threads Senior Member
    So sorry you are going through this. I agree with what has been said above. We had a similar experience to yours with SIL - she wanted "items of sentimental value" but wanted us to send them to her. We gave her a bunch of stuff from her parents house that was easily shipped, kept what we wanted and the rest was disposed of. We tried a sale of their furniture and other items, and very little of it was desired by anyone, so we had to pay to have the bulk of it taken away when we sold their house. If you have any antiques that may be worth something, sometimes the local dealers will come and take a look and tell you if they would buy it. When my mom died, my brother divided up the pictures as equally as he could, and also brought me a couple of boxes of nicknacks from her house, which he and his wife kindly had taken the time to pack up. I couldn't get there to send a piece of furniture that I wanted and it was sold with the condo. I might have liked more nicknacks, but I couldn't get away to florida at that time. I appreciated what he could do.

    If I was you, I might divide up the pictures and send everyone a small nicknack and get rid of whatever else I could. If anything is sold, reimburse yourself for your out of pocket expenses - shipping, the past storage etc, and if a surplus (doubtful), distribute it. If no one can take the stuff, it is not worth paying for 3 storage units. Most likely no one will want the stuff ever.

    @ from other people who refuse to have consideration for me. You have to decide for yourself how much you can take. In my experience, my family did not care much that they put others to expense or aggravation (as yours sounds to me from your post.) It was not worth the aggravation dealing with them, trying to please them etc. Usually, when you tell these types that you will no longer do whatever it is that they want, they are offended, angry, hate you, and whatever. You have to be able to take it.

    Best of luck whatever you decide.
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  • 3scoutsmom3scoutsmom 5668 replies338 threads Senior Member
    When my mother down sized, she had boxes and boxes of my grandmother's genealogy research none of my siblings wanted it but my mom refused to let us toss it, she finally allowed me to send it to a cousin on the west coast that is LDS and interested in genealogy. It cost me $$ to ship all those boxes but it was worth it to get rid of them in a way that didn't upset my mother. I'm sure my cousin flipped when she saw how much stuff she agreed to take!
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  • musicprntmusicprnt 6216 replies37 threads Senior Member
    Having been in this position (as the family "accomodator"), what this usually ends up meaning is I was the one who was expected to accomodate everyone else's needs (forget about my own). My therapist would call this the classic example of trying to play tennis by yourself, and it doesn't work. I had a lot of childhood issues with empotionally having family members mad at me with disaster, and it took a lot and faced with choosing my birth family and their anger or my own little family,to figure out there is nothing wrong with setting boundaries and also wanting accomodation, too.

    There are several options here, all designed to take the load off of yourself:

    1)If the family who want stuff in the storage facility kept but don't want it in their homes, then tell them you don't want anything in the unit, and that either they can arrange and pay for the stuff to be shipped to them (or their own storage facility), or they can take over paying for the unit you already have..and set a deadline, so they don't dither and leave you with the status quo.

    2)If they don't want to do 1 above, then tell people the unit is paid off through the end of X month, and then you are walking away. If they want anything from it, they should arrange to have it sent to them (you could potentially get someone to ship it, if they pay, but that is still your time).

    3)If someone wants stuff scanned, they can either do it themselves, or agree to pay to have someone do it (and if others in the family want in, they can chip in, as could you if you even care). It is very crass to assume someone else has the time to wade through the crap in the storage unit to find the documents and photos, scan them and then collate them together electronically go give to others. Surprised they didn't want you to scan them and put them on a website so they easily could get them ......

    The way to look at this I found is to look at it from my angle, too, what do I get out of it. All I got from accomodating my family was not having to feel the tension in my stomach they may get mad at me, and 'keeping the peace', but in doing so I rarely, if ever, got anything back, often even a thank you. I don't know your family, but in mine there often seemed to be a member who was 'good natured', I was one of those, and in the end it isn't that people don't think, they don't have to, if they have someone they can always ask for something and never be told no, why bother to think of them? I mentioned that with one of the last talks I had with my siblings, many years ago, and they were like "you never asked", basically put the blame on me, and when I said "did it ever dawn on you to offer, as I often did?" they gave me this blank look.

    Me, I would advise you to tell the people you want to close out the storage room by the end of X month, and if there is anything they want they will need to make arrangements to get it or if they want, those who want the stuff can maintain it in the current storage space but they will need to take over paying for it, then they can get the stuff when they want and dispose of the rest and then vacate the storage space. The worst part of your story to me isn't the cost of the unit(thought that is very thoughtless of them), it is the imposition on your time, as if your time doesn't mean anything or you are a member of the leisure class while their time is 'precious'.

    And I can tell you it isn't appreciated, one summer when I was brutally busy with work, was picking my wife up in downtown Manhattan after her classes finished most nights during the wek, had very little free time, I tutored a cousin in a summer course in statics he was taking (he had failed it during the year). The kid got through the course, and instead of getting his usual D's and F's, got a B in it...and I never even got a simple thank you from the kid's mom, and from what I hear someone called her on it and she said "well, it isn't like he got an A" (needless to say, when my dad asked me about further tutoring, I told him where to stick it, and why, and he knew better than to ask me why).
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  • MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia 4389 replies85 threads Senior Member
    I would give an end date and then donate anything you don't want. However if you decided to ask them to help pay for the storage unit make sure they pay for it in advance..

    It's hard to know what to keep but at this point I would think if you haven't used it in 10 years you aren't going to miss it.
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  • intparentintparent 36292 replies644 threads Senior Member
    You could end up on "Auction Hunters". :D
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  • gouf78gouf78 7895 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2016
    The "land of indecision" says it all.
    Get what you want and tell everyone else the storage units are closed in 60 days.
    If they want something THEY are responsible for retrieving it. Not you.
    And no "saving" things for someone. That's just another "indecision".

    Get pictures/letters if you want and have them scanned as suggested or just divvy them up (my preference).

    Contact a dealer if you think there is anything of real value.
    Donate/trash everything else.

    Do not fall for the "I'll pay for the units" deal. The stuff will be there another 20 years until the grandchildren trash it finally. And they'll be sending you a bill for "your share" of the rental.

    It's very hard to part with loved one's belongings. My friend's brother just couldn't. And still can't. I took a lot of stuff from the home when their mom died not for me but just to donate it. It was easier for him to give it to me than donate directly. It would have never left the house except for me. A lot more is left years later.

    Do everyone a huge favor and get rid of all of it. It's your designated duty.
    You were elected when you got the storage keys and paid the bills.
    Clear the storage units and your lives. Everyone will breathe much easier.

    And hugs.

    edited September 2016
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