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A stepfamily warning story

Jcksjj's picture

So I had an aunt who was married to a man with 2 kids. They had one ours baby who is (obviously) my cousin. This is the only experience I had growing up with steps in my family of any sort.

I vaguely remember the skids being around occasionally for christmas and such. I would have been probably 11 to 13 or 14 when they were around. My perspective of the kids at the time was that they were a little odd/quirky, but nothing extreme behavior wise. Fairly quiet and pretty well behaved. 

My aunt was the "good stepmom" who bent over backwards to include the skids in everything, took the kids on BMs weekends most of the time because BM asked her to, even though their dad was also gone most of those weekends. You know, everything we tell everyone on here isn't their responsibility, but others try to convince them it is.

My aunt ended up getting gravely ill and nearly dying when my cousin was young. She survived, but mentally is about 12 now from brain damage. Husband divorced her and obviously got custody since she wasnt able to even care for herself fully, let alone my cousin. 

My cousins dad died suddenly last year right before my cousin was supposed to graduate. He was the only child left at home as the other 2 are in their late 20s and have fully launched. 

My cousin wanted to stay in the house just until he started college at the end of the summer, but the two older half brothers wanted to get it on the market and sold as soon as possible. Cousin didnt have the option of living with his mom since she lives in state funded assisted living. Did his brothers care? Nope. Their mom asked my cousin if she could be the executor of the estate and my cousin had no idea what that meant and agreed. Somehow any portion of the estate intended to go to my cousin is now mysteriously gone, including his college fund. I dont know details of this beyond that the BM in this situation was the executor of the state and that the older brothers had previously conned my cousin out of other material possessions. Despite the fact that they are around a decade older, and have a well off mother and he is just starting college and his mother has no way of supporting or helping him. These are kids that were encouraged to bond with the brother, raised with him, were taken care of for a good part of their childhood by my aunt and on the surface seemed decent.

Just saying, I think there is some things to consider from this story for anyone in stepfamilies. I mean, these things happen in nuclear families too, but I really think when you have steps and different parents with different agendas involved it really increases the odds.


ITB2012's picture

Poor child. I supposed as executor, the woman has taken any insurance money or anything that boy could use for college and to support himself. Is there anyone (you?) who could suggest he consult with a lawyer or is this a story from a while ago and the ship has sailed?

Jcksjj's picture

This happened this spring. My dad and grandma both called me to ask questions because I am a paralegal, but I'm not an attorney and I have no experience with estates beyond college classes so theres not alot I could do besides interpret statutes regarding the state laws better than they can. An attorney is kind of out of the question because he has no money for one. Im not 100% where everything is at at this moment because I havent heard any updates super recently. The skids mom is actually an attorney herself, so I find that even more morally disgusting that she took advantage of the situation like that.

I did offer to go with him to court if he ever ended up needing to, but theres not much I could do besides give him moral support. 

MissTexas's picture

Anyone can contest the will, and he had been, in effect, disinherited. As a para, can you please see if this is a possiblity?

As horrible as this is, thank you for sharing this story. There are so many absolute horror stories out there many never hear about.

Jcksjj's picture

I did let them know he could see if he would be able to get legal aid, but I have no idea if he ever did. Hes pretty quiet and passive so I'm guessing that he just cut his losses and moved on. 

GrabitAndGo's picture

Was the half-siblings' BM always the execurtrix or did that come about after the man died?

Jcksjj's picture

There wasnt a will so my understanding is that the 3 kids all would've been in charge of things, but BM asked if she could act as executor and my cousin agreed to it without really understanding what it meant. I dont know every detail, but there was money set aside that was intended for him for college and it's gone, so probably there wasnt very good planning on that? His dad wasnt very old and died unexpectedly so I suppose things weren't set up as well as they could have been. Which is part of what I took from the story, especially in regards to my ODS who really only has me for a bio parent. And of course the other 2 brothers were fine with it BM being in charge of things. She totally took advantage of it, but unfortunately my cousin is technically an adult and agreed so...

susanm's picture

If the man died intestate, most state have statutes saying that all children inherit equally.  It would be worth consulting with an attorney.  They might do it on a contingency or something.  If this woman is an atty and she pulled a fast one to cut out this child and enrich her sons, she could be looking at disbarrment.  That would be serious incentive for her to get some cash to him.

SteppedOut's picture

How crappy. SMH. I could 10000% see my formerSO's kids act like this (they were outwardly assholes unless their grandmother was around). 

Jcksjj's picture

Oh my SD would absolutely a million times over do this to her siblings. Shes only 8 and I have zero doubt she would and will as an adult. She already uses the heck out of anyone and everyone and generally gets by using manipulation. And like I said, these kids even appeared decent on the surface.

AlmostGone83's picture

This chills my blood. I would go public with this story. Make sure everyone knows what a POS that lady and the skids are. Definitely a lesson to be learned here. Protect yourself and yours.

SteppedOut's picture

This. Given she is an attorney, a news station may even investigate and pick up the story. 

notarelative's picture

If there was a house and no will, I would think that the estate would have gone through probate. (And maybe even if there was a will since there was not a spouse) So the probate court would be a good place to look for information. Probate records are usually open to the public. 

Could your cousin contact the state bar association?  The executor of the estate is supposed to keep all heirs informed of what is happening. 

mro's picture

And as an heir he had the right to be apprised of the proce - or a guardian on his behalf if he was a minor at the time.  I agree, I would obtain the records (they are public record).  As far as real property (the house), that is public record too- who the owner was, if there was a beneficiary (in which case it would not be a probate asset), and if it has been transferred.  

SSstepmom's picture

Thank you for sharing this. Sometimes we want to always think the best that we never prepare for the worse. How sad and heart breaking for him to be completely shunned and betrayed by his half siblings. 

shellpell's picture

This is why I only encourage a relationship between my two kids and not with SS! Any hidden or apparent resentment towards half-siblings from skids can manifest in this or similar situation. When my two are older I will tell them they need to be there for each other and to not think SS will care about them. The dangers of having a different and poisonous mother cannot be underestimated.

Curious Georgetta's picture

That something illegal or unethical occurred, he does not  need an attorney to file a complaint with the state board of bar overseers.

The regulatory boards act promptly and employ due diligence investigating complaints.

An attorney can be sanctioned and or lose their ticket.

This is not something that most attorneys take lightly.

It is equally possible that as the man died intestate that he no fund designated as college fund but may have been planning to use his retirement or 401k as the funding source.

If that was the plan, once he died those funds along with any insurance policies would now go to the designated beneficiaries.

If a complaint is filed and assuming that the mom is a licensed attorney , a review will be done.

It may just be that the dad was not as solvent as your cousin thinks




Jcksjj's picture

The was no will as far as I'm aware of. There should be a way to get ahold of any court filings. My dad and grandma told him he could contact me if he wanted but he hasnt and I havent heard any updates recently so who knows what's going on now. Like I stated above, I have zero actual experience in probate law, only took a class in college. When I was actually working as a paralegal (I'm at home with my babies currently) I worked on contracts for a tech company so my background doesnt really come in as useful as my dad and grandma think, unfortunately. 

I pretty much just posted this as a general warning to parents to have things in place ahead of time, because you never know when something could happen to you.

SecondNoMore's picture

I think the lesson of this story is about having your affairs in order if you have children and assets to distribute. Any time money is involved, greed comes into play. My grandmother cut her own brother out when their mother died and took everything for herself by becoming the executor and having power of attorney. I know that when she passes it will be World War 3 among my mom and her three siblings because things are not being evenly distributed. In all cases we are talking about full siblings. Money often brings out the worst in people.

STaround's picture

My aunt was the primary caregiver for my grandmother, so my mom agreed that she and her DD could get more from the estate.   It is not always greed that drives why one sibling thinks they are entitled to more.

Chmmy's picture

I think it speaks to the man's character that he ditched his wife when she was ill and she is in a state facility. When he shows character like that, isnt it expected his kids would also?

I have most of my money with my parents or my son so this would never happen to me. While my husband probably wouldnt leave me, the skids and BM would rob anyone blind, especially if BM was in charge.

I don't have a will but my dad or son have access to all of my accounts. My paperwork is stored at my parents house.

Mountains's picture

Our stance based on the skids behavior was to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.  We got a lawyer who specialized in estates for our wills and directives.  The skids and my DD got a letter from us (DH and me) with a high level overview of how the estate would be divided and why.  This was a suggestion of the lawyer and a financial advisor.  

This is a complicated topic especially with blended families.  I am so sorry this happened - it probably is more prevalent than we realize.

Husband's wife's picture

This is exactly why I do not own anything with DH. We rent our home and I have several properties that will go to DD. I also save money for her and for me. We have a prenup for which I spent a lot of time preparing with my lawyer and basically everything that is mine will stay with me and later go to DD.

DH wanted to purchase a property together, I was categorical. I offered him to live in one of the properties I own, he didn't want. And I didn't want to manage any mess in case something happens to him. Finally we rent our household and pay 50/50. 



Iamwoman's picture

You are smart! 

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to make sure my DD inherits deservedly.

Skids are awful. They don’t even act nicely as the OP indicated in her anecdotal tale.

tennisplyr's picture

For reasons like this, I have a 529 plan for our shared bio child and my brother has all the account information and will be the trustee if I die before DH.  I don't trust DH or his kids to not spend down her 529 account to which I alone have contributed from my paycheck (admittedly with "marital funds").  I have prioritized her 529 account even when DH has fought me about it and wanted me to contribute to his adult children's expenses and not save for her college (yet).  As a result of his position, I have no faith that he'll care for her if I die first, as I think he views her as a lesser priority.  

Ispofacto's picture

Last November during Open Enrollment, I split my life insurance up.  It used to go to DH, but now it is half DH, half my youngest son.

My two older kids' father is a millionaire, but my youngest only has me.  No way in hell do I want any of my money going to Killjoy or Satan.

So this November I plan on changing my life insurance to 100% YDS.

DH does not know.  He makes plenty of money on his own but was deeply underwater when we met, whereas I had a lot of net worth.  I don't want to alert him to my plan because he would be personally offended, but he really isn't entitled to my money.  He barely deserves the house.  I'm thinking about taking further steps to secure that too.

Barring accident, I will very likely outlive him for many years despite the fact that I am a few years older than him.  Once Killjoy is an adult, we need to discuss how to keep our money out of Satan's hands should anything befall us.  Killjoy will get a fair share eventually, but not more than she deserves, and it will be in a trust until Satan dies.

Killjoy is already going to inherit something from MIL/FIL too.  They have always favored SIL, so they worked it out to give her side the lionshare of their estate.  25% each to DH and SIL, then 10% each to the grandchildren.  SIL has 4, DH has 1.  But still, it should be 100k+ per kid.  They are putting Killjoy's in a trust, so Satan can't touch it, but we shall see how smart they did it.  I could still see Satan wheedling it out of Killjoy somehow.

Satan is a ghoul.  The type to cozy up to old people and try to get into their pocketbooks/wills.  She's the type who would resort to foul play to hasten someone's departure.  I could elaborate, but I think you get the picture.


bananaseedo's picture

Yikes!  I would encourage you to reach out to him and push him may have to help him investigate this before much time then you'd get to learn something totally new/about probate court and help him. 

This stuff happens in nuclear families too...when my FIL passed the life insurance he left MIL was robbed by my BIL.  She STILL has him as power of attorney with full access to her bank account/home/etc....

MIL has 'claimed' she took out a seperate life insurance policy in DH's papers have been shown.  If she has ANYTHING left by the time she passes I assure you my BIL will take advantage again.

Btw, if you haven't yet watched Politician on Netflix- watch it- to see the dynamics between family backstabbing an 'adopted' one was harrowing...but not unrealistic.