I am a proud, unvaccinated Trump supporter. Two of my siblings haven’t spoken to me in a decade. Ought to I reduce them out of my $7 million property?
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.
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?” Your answer may or may not be: “Great!”
Thanksgiving dinners in this great and troubled country have no doubt had some heated rooftop, pitchfork-swinging debates between die-hard Republicans and Democrats (and Bernie supporters, let’s not forget). One of the goals 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.
Given the number of people who have died of COVID-19 – more so in 2021 than in 2020 as a whole – and the highly contagious Delta variant and now a new South African variant that rocked the markets on Black Friday, I can understand Why some families would have a “Vaccinated Only” rule for Thanksgiving dinner. Our health and that of our most vulnerable loved ones take precedence over the vacation label.
I have lived in this country for 10 years and nothing could have prepared me for the deep divisions between people along partisan, racial, social and ideological lines. Supporters of different beliefs and parties follow up on 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.
Religious Beliefs vs. Civil Liberties
But it is a tragedy when this environment tears families apart and brother against brother. It takes a lot of pain and drive to keep this resentment burning. We all have white lines – topics to agree and / or discuss – and red lines “never cross” – support for the January 6 rioters storming the Capitol – and they vary greatly from person to person.
One man’s religious beliefs are another woman’s civil liberty. From what I’ve seen in the last 10 Thanksgivings, the two will never meet. When I have a challenging encounter, I sometimes ask myself, “You are my teacher. What have you been sent to teach me? ”Perhaps we both need a lesson in humility. Or maybe it’s healthiest to just walk away.
They believe that you are on the receiving end of self-will and political tenacity. I caution you against making final decisions based on anger, whether sincere or not. Leave the most generous sums of money to your closest siblings and their children, and put down your sword by giving a more modest amount to the children of your estranged siblings. Or set up a family education foundation for all nieces and nephews.
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. My parting gift to you is that we could all have done things differently and that all disputes between me and your parents end here. “
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