Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

How to begin? I am sitting here in a deep state of shock on a multitude of levels, the plausibility of my writing to you being one of them. It’s simply too personal and embarrassing for me to reach out to others with this as I have always been able to handle my affairs and, often times, been approached to help out other male friends with their own problems. I just need a female viewpoint on where things went so wrong as to culminate in the present turn of events in my life.


Let me begin to say I am the eldest of six, three boys and three girls. My parents married late in life and worked side by side in the family business, up until my father took sick and my mom found it hard to manage alone. I left a good job to take Dad’s place and handle the business along with attending to all their personal financial issues of the home. Before Dad passed away, my parents wisely went and made a co-joint family trust and will with a good friend of mine who was an attorney who specialized in this field, making my mom the primary inheritor and owner of the business after him, along with an alternate executor to assume the duty of managing the trust after her own passing. I know I shouldn’t have, but I needed to know who they chose to be executor, so I pressed my friend incessantly, until he told me that I was the chosen executor. Needles to say I was pleased to hear this.

After Dad’s passing, Mom began to lean on me quite a lot and, as time went by, she became incessantly needy and demanding and wanting my company and opinions on the minutest things, it began to cause friction in my own family life and perhaps I would lose my temper more than I should have. But after a while she turned to my sister, the oldest of her three daughters and the one I had the least tolerance for to care for her needs and keep her company, and later down the line she moved in with this sister and her family where she passed away five years later.

It is now after the shloshim and my friend, the attorney, called us into his office to hear the will and distribution of the trust. I was so prepared to assume full control that when the will and terms of the trust were read, I almost had a heart attack! There was a co-executor added to the trust in recent years and it was this sister whom I had issues with and with whom my mom had lived until her passing. When I asked why there were two executors, the attorney, who is no longer my friend, said that my mother had called him some years prior to moving in with my sister, stating that I was an angry and unreasonable man and my treatment of her indicated that, perhaps, it would be wise to name my sister to represent the females in the family, and that he strongly agreed with her. So the changes were made then and there without anyone else knowing.

This is the crux of the matter, and before I take legal action to dispute my sister’s executorship, against the ‘good advice’ of my ex-friend and without further criticism and embarrassment, I thought I’d hear what you had to say.


Dear Friend,

It’s a good thing I’m not a vain person, however, just from your opening sentence comes across loud and clear, who you are and it’s very telling to whom and where your priorities belong. It’s not a glowing description of a loving, caring son or supportive and dear brother! Although I am truly sorry for your loss, I am grateful to the sister you don’t get along with for giving to her mother those last loving and comfortable years of life. It is also no small wonder why your mother chose this daughter to see that her wishes were properly and honestly addressed in her absence.

When your father passed, your mother turned to you, as her eldest child, for comfort and respect, and it’s obvious she got little or none of either. I realize that it must have been a great sacrifice of time and personal changes to accommodate her needs, but these are the labors of love we willingly return to our parents at the end of days. It is not easy being old, infirm and suddenly alone, with the passing of a life partner added to the mix, and then on top of this, being dealt with by indifferent, and distant children for whom one’s younger years were sacrificed to give THEM everything and more. Often, these things get forgotten by the young, it seems, and the young think they’ll be young forever. But everyone gets old, if they’re lucky and so will you! Strip away your top veneer of toughness and denial and see yourself as you truly are and were to your mom. Was it patient, loving kindness for her aging short-comings or was it intolerance and annoyance at her repetitiveness? Did you belittle her because of her age and your brilliant youth, or were you calming and understanding? Did your conversations and visits include laughter and lighthearted memories to lift her spirits or were your talks more ‘put-downs’ than ‘lift-ups’? Did you ever make her feel loved and important and appreciated for being your mother, or did you make her feel more of a burden, an unwanted obligation in your life?

Be careful with your vanity and your pride! Only a fool makes a bad thing worse, so don’t entertain the thought of challenging the will or the trust at the risk of breaking up the family! Rather, make peace with your sister and any other siblings you have issues with and, over time, be able to address important decisions in an unthreatening and abusive way. I, too, feel your mother, a”h, did the right thing in having your sister be an executor of her wishes, because she saw the destruction of the family looming large with just you at the helm. Please do yourself a favor and speak to someone credible to help you get rid of your short-comings before you regret that you didn’t! HaMakom Yenachem Eschem…


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