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Subduing Sibling Strife

This is an incredible story - please stick with us here! 

First, some background. We have a client, Constance, who has been with us for a decade. She and her sister Melinda grew up in a large suburb of New York City and played in the house next door to their grandparents. The two girls became staples in that house, a house with four older children who never married but who doted on Constance and Melinda. So much so, that Constance and Melinda were named as beneficiaries of the estate that had been passed down through the generations until it stopped with the four siblings.

One day we received a phone call from Constance. She was worried that Melinda had been “borrowing” from the neighbor’s estate. The tension was palpable. We were instantly concerned that this accusation would cause a significant rift in their relationship. After having a conversation with Melinda, we discovered that she had been working very hard taking care of the two remaining siblings (now in their 90s) and working on closing the estate of the most recently deceased sibling. The work Melinda was doing was tremendously time consuming, and she was unable to perform her own job and, thus, needed money to pay off some debt she had accumulated. Melinda took a loan from the estate, intent on deducting it from the proceeds she was due to receive from the estate. Does this sound fishy to you?

Well, WE were thrilled. For one thing, these two elderly people were getting the help they needed and Melinda was the saint who was helping them. For another thing, Melinda had a perfectly good reason to loan herself some money, but we knew we could help Melinda in a more constructive way that would make everyone happy.

BPP Springs Into Action

We poured through all aspects of the elderly siblings’ home situation, and discovered that they were hoarders. They had squirreled money away in various forms, including shares of IBM stock – in certificate form – from the 1960s, U.S. Savings Bonds from the 1930s and cash (in envelopes, loose, or in plastic bags around the house) as well as a collection of thousands of purchases that cluttered their home from floor to ceiling..

We knew what we had to do; we sent in the troops, including one of our favorite people, professional organizer Maria Pascale (www.getorganizedwithmaria.com). It turns out that after cleaning out the home, a condo in New York and multiple storage units, the estate of one of the remaining siblings, Victoria, was worth approximately $2 million. However, the estate was wrapped up in plastic garbage bags or shoved in corners and never dealt with.

We created a thorough to-do list and worked with Melinda to redeem the U.S. Savings Bonds, sell the houses, deposit the various stock certificates in financial institutions, sell some antiquities, etc. To do all this, we suggested to Constance and Melinda that Melinda be paid a well-deserved salary. By bringing everything front and center, we were able to save the sisters’ relationship and get the elderly siblings into a facility where they are well cared for and are leading a healthy, active life. Now Melinda can focus on her own health and business.

This material is being provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as investment, tax, or legal advice, or as a solicitation to buy or sell any specific securities product, or used as the primary determinant of the best strategy. Although these are actual events, not all clients will experience the same result and there is no guarantee of future performance or success.