While trauma can sometimes bring a family closer together, money often splits them apart.
When Reddit user thekilkennywarrior's aunt died, she left him a house and a bunch of money.
Unfortunately, it's caused a bit of a disagreement with his brother, who never got a chance to know their aunt. Thekilkennywarrior took to the popular subReddit "Am I The A**hole?" to find out whether he's doing the right thing.
He titled his story "AITA for refusing to split my inheritance evenly with my brother, morally speaking?"
"Throwback because some of my friends are on Reddit as well. Last year, I (30 M) received news that an aunt whom I had never known existed, had passed away. She left me her house and a fairly large sum of money in her bank account."
"In her will she wrote that she and my late father, her only sibling, had stopped keeping in touch with each other over a 'family dispute' years ago before I was born. But she knew that my father had a son (me) before she moved away to another city. She never had children herself."
"Anyway, my wife and I were beyond ecstatic about it. We decided to put the house up for rent. We wanted to handle this financial windfall wisely. On the other hand, when my brother (29 M) found out about it, he became really upset. He reasoned that since aunt had moved away before he was born, she had never known that I had a brother, thus deciding I was the only one to whom she would bequeath her possessions. He demanded I split the money with him."
"Here's the thing. History repeats itself. Growing up, my brother and I never got along well. He takes pride in his sense of freedom being wild and a troublemaker, partying hard, smoking weeds, going to rock concerts, spending weeks and even months traveling the world, never settling down in one place for too long. I, on the other hand, am a very organized person. I have a stable job which I love. My wife is 5 months pregnant and I can't be happier. So excited to be a father."
"Nevertheless, in a way I think my brother's right. Aunt would have split the money between us if she had known that my father had another son. I didn't want to repeat my father and aunt's mistakes, so I split the money from her bank account evenly with him. But it wasn't enough for him. He insists that I sell the house as well and split the money from its sale. Only then it would be fair, according to him."
"I refused. I told him no. The house and money are legally mine. It was my name written on aunt's will. My name only. I can't change the past. It's not my fault that aunt had never known he existed."
"He became furious. He asked how I would feel if I were him. He accused me of being greedy, money-hungry, avaricious, everything, you name it. He even threatened to bring the case to court. But I stood my ground."
"Nowadays, I have started to feel kind of bad about the whole situation. Ignoring the fact that legally the house and the money are mine, maybe he is entitled to 50% of the house? Maybe selling it and splitting the money from its sale is the right thing to do. Morally speaking, Am I The A**hole for refusing to sell the house and split the money from its sale with my brother?"
To some on Reddit, it seemed obvious OP was acting like a pompous jerk.
"[You're The A**hole]. First, did you really post that he smokes the weeds and attends rock concerts? Holy judgmental and pretentious.... While legally the money may belong to you, morally, what you're doing is f*cked up." -NUTmeSHELL
Others felt he may be a bit pretentious, but wasn't doing anything wrong.
"He's TA for those comments, but I don't think he's TA for not putting the house up for sale and sharing the profit. He gave him half of the money already." -MrsMeteor
One of Reddit's lawyers seemed pretty certain OP had done nothing incorrectly.
"As a lawyer, I don't agree. I think that the assumption that she would leave something for all of her brother's children instead of just OP is not really strong and the base of it can fall pretty fast."
"Considering how important writing a will is, some research goes into it if you're leaving anything for someone estranged. I don't believe it would have been hard to find out if she had any other nephews, especially now in the age of social media, so if she wanted to know that she could have found that out and wrote down the other nephew's name. There's also the chance that she did not give anything to the other brother because she did not approve of his life and did not want to pay for it."
"Also, it is not absurd to believe that her brother might have had other children, which is why such wills will word it as something like "to all of my brother's living children", as a way to ensure that all of the nephews will get a cut. By not doing that I actually think it is more likely that the aunt wanted to specifically have OP inherit it, for whatever reason."
"Having said all that, when you want to exclude someone from the will it is common for you to write down that you are aware that that person exists but does not want to leave anything for them."
"With all of that it seems to me like she wanted to exclusively award OP and didn't really care if there were other children. I also would like to know why the brother didn't contest the will, he seems to have enough of a case to do so. It's also likely that the executor will know more about how the writing of the will came to, so if she really did want "all of her nephews" to inherit something, that's information he would have."
"Edit to add: an easy way of finding out if she had more information concerning OP is to see if the will mentioned an alternative beneficiary."
"If she knew nothing else about OP then she would have written down alternative beneficiaries in case he wasn't alive by the time she passed. If there are alternatives then the argument that she knew nothing and did no further research is stronger, although still far from one close to certainty about her wish of having all nephews inherit."
"However, if there aren't alternatives, the way larger assumption is that she did enough research to know that OP is alive, which likely would have led her to at least see if he has other siblings, and that her wish was to only award OP." -viniciusbfonseca
Others fell in line, saying that the morality of this issue was hardly cut-and-dry.
"Not a lawyer, and even I knew this about wills...seems pretty straight forward, and it's good to know my hunch was correct. OP, morals are what helps you sleep at night. They're loose and humans are bad at sticking to them because they're not really a cut and dry thing."
"I don't think you're either legally or morally obligated to give money to someone you don't agree with if you were the one awarded it. NTA, but maybe judge your brother a little less. Being a free spirit isn't actually a bad thing. It's just different than what you chose." -RunnerOfUltras
Perhaps OP has nothing to be worried about.
"NAH - the house and money was given to you in your name. Granted it may be different if she had known of your other existing brother, but it is how it is. You guys didn't even know her at all, so receiving this was a surprise to you both. You gave him 50percent of money."
"When it comes to a house you can't split it in half unless you sell. It's in your name so that's ultimately your decision. I think it's fair your brother's upset but you also have everything in your name and that wasn't your choice and you want to rent."
"This could provide longer lasting income, and then maybe sell the house when you guys are older. Why not make money now and sell later? Have you thought about instead of selling the house, splitting the income you get from the renters with your brother? This would be a compromise that will still give him half of the house technically until/if you guys decide to sell." -woollffprincess
At the end of the day, neither of them "deserved" anything.
"NTA. Someone neither of you knew gave you a windfall because she happened to know you existed. Here's the thing. Neither of you "deserve" anything from your Aunt. Neither of you are entitled to anything from her."
"You kept the object you were given and you split the liquid assets with your brother. That was nice. Now he's just being greedy. Over something neither of you expected or "deserve". His brother got something nice that no one was expecting. And he felt he deserved half just for existing. And you split the easily split half with him."
"If this is what causes him to break up the sibling relationship, if he's willing to sue you for "exactly half" of a gift you got that neither of you were entitled to or deserve, the money won't fix the problems with the relationship." -whereugetcottoncandy
Writing a will can sometimes cause more problems than it solves.
Especially when family feuds get involved.