Hope I haven't opened Pandora's box...

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My late father had a younger 1/2 brother who was enough of a difficult child that much of the family was reportedly afraid of him and pretty much disowned him. I've never heard a kind word spoken about the man. But in all honesty, I don't know him at all. I heard he was in a Special Forces unit, a Green Beret, towards the end of Viet Nam. I heard that he had a drug problem. He was generally described by others as mean and crazy.

    Well, last week as my mom and I were going through my dad's papers, we found a deceased older brother's Will from 1989 in which a modest amount was left to each of the siblings. Except that this ONE sibling, the 1/2 brother, no one could located back then. (And I'll bet that no one really tried all that hard based on his standing in the family.) Anyway, the funds were placed in an interest-bearing account in the county where the Will was executed, and there they've sat for the past two decades, as far as we know.

    Well, my mom and I figured that with the internet, it shouldn't be too hard to locate him now. We were right. I found him on Facebook late Sunday. And I found his son! So I sent him a private message on Monday morning. I noticed that he hasn't been on FB since June, so I decided to contact his son yesterday. He responded tonight and verified the relationship and said he'd call his dad, but that he was curious what it was all about.

    So I told him about his grandmother being dead, the older brother's Will, and my dad's recent death. From the sound of things, they havn't spoken to anyone in the family in a very, very long time.

    My mom is leery about me getting too close to this uncle until I know more about him. :anxious: She's insisting that I not give him my address or phone number... maybe my cell would be safe?

    I hope his son will help me understand his history a little better.
  2. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Maybe I'm a polyanna (well, I KNOW I'm a polyanna!), but I belive family is family. I would give him my cell and maybe meet somewhere on neutral ground someday? It's worth a shot. So much may have changed over the years. Good luck to you.
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What can you tell about the son from his FB page?? ANy info there?? married, kids? JOB?
  4. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Find out what you can without disclosing your identity until you feel safer about doing so. People do change over the years. Maybe having a family has softened him and put him on the right track?

    Another option to get the $$$ in the rightful hand is to talk to the attorney who set up the will. That place may be willing to contact the 1/2 brother with the information. If the account is actually in his name (which I would think would be the case), the bank may be able to also contact him.
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Another thought - Make sure the account is still available. It is possible that somewhere along the way he did learn about it and has withdrawn and closed the account. Where have the yearly tax statements for the account been mailed to? Contact the bank with the information you have on hand. Ask to talk to an official of the bank (tellers will not have authority to give you information on his account), have the will in hand as well as any papers regarding the account, explain the story, explain that you are a relative who wants to make sure the $$$ gets to the brother and his family if it has still not been claimed, ask if they can tell you if the account is still open and ask what their policy is on dormant accounts.
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    If the account's been sitting that long, it may have been turned over to the state. All states have unclaimed property sites where you can run the name and see if there's anything there. I found an insurance policy for my grandfather...who died in 1968. My mom and her brother have placed their claim.
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Well, I heard back from the son, who is my cousin. He hadn't been in contact with his now-dead grandmother since 1992. And apparently he contacted MY dad in 1999 but my dad didn't want anything to do with him because of his father. Very sad. I gave him the rundown on all the family members and cousins, explained the inheritance situation, and also told him that I'd heard vague things about his dad over the years but really didn't know him, much less whether any of it was true.

    So he set me straight on his dad and all the rumors, and sadly, it's all true! He was in Vietnam. He developed a drug addiction while he was there and so did his wife, and they both battled that demon for many years. His parents split up, both got clean, and he moved out of state until '95. His dad has been completely clean/sober since 1988 and has a good job as an electrician and has been working at the same company for many years. He never remarried.

    I told him I thought it was a shame that the family turned their backs on him at a time when he needed them the most. And I also said that this family had a lot of mental health problems, and a huge issue with denial of anything unpleasant, which resulted in a lot of dysfunction and pain over the years for a lot of people, my own family included.

    He said his dad will be in contact with me soon, and he gave me his own email and phone # and said he'd love to meet one day. So maybe once this is all settled my brother and I can arrange to go see him and his wife.

    All I have to give him is the record #, docket # and page # from the probate proceedings with the Will. We can get him a copy of the letters from the lawyers at the time, but he'll have to do the legwork for claiming the funds through the county where it's being held. It's in another state, so hopefully he can accomplish this via phone and mail, but that's all up to him.

    I'm glad I took the time to ask about his dad. People can change, and clearly, this uncle has straightened his life out considerably. Doesn't mean he doesn't have issues still, but at least he's back to being a contributing member of society.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have a personal rule that I judge people on how they treat me and treat others when they are with me. If I hear rumors or judgements about them I evaluate these first on the merits of the person who tells me this stuff. If that person has their own serious issues that would color the rumors/judgements, then I tend to ignore what they say.

    Personally I would probably give them a chance. Contact via email and phone at first (I do very little via facebook because it just seems to have too much potential for problems and because I just don't think I am interesting enough for anyone to care what I am doing, lol.) and if that goes well then maybe a visit where whoever travels stays in a nearby hotel. Or you both go somewhere interesting and stay in a hotel.

    The son sounds quite nice, and it truly is a shame the family couldn't help while they were addicted. Of course, many of us have had to limit contact with a loved one because they had a sub abuse problem and needed to go hit bottom. It doesn't mean we refuse to contact them unless it is unsafe to keep in contact. At the time, the uncle may have been quite violent and contact may have had to be cut because that. It is important to remember that when judging the rest of the family for how they behaved then. Given the way that family behaves, it may have been better for the uncle to have that contact severed.

    Whatever happens, I think contacting them is the right thing to do - esp given the amount of time that has passed. I am sure that in a few years or a decade or so, husband and I may be willing to contact gfgbro and niece to give them a chance. Maybe. But we have firsthand info about him. You have no firsthand info on these relatives.
  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Several things come to my mind about this, with no actual advice but I'll throw out these thoughts to consider:

    1) Many war vets end up with addictions due to PTSD. I definitely believe most never understood that when Vietnam ended or in earlier time periods. Kuddos to anyone who get treated and was able to recouperate from it all- the war and tthe addiction. in my humble opinion, that is NOT something to hold against a person- the military considers it a medical issue, not a behavior problem.

    2) I would not push for other members of the family to re-establish a relationship- there were probably things (other things) that happened that you don't know about. If you want a relationship, fine, and if you think the family is doing well and overcome obastacles, etc.,, maybe mention to your parents that you have met them and they are no longer living the way they were then let them decide whether or not to rekindle things. You can't determine by what you know if this guy had done something horrible that no one outside that family knows or if it was just that the family disapproved of the addiction habits and did not understand PTSD. Until I knew if there was more to it than that, I would tread lightly.

    That's just my 2 cents.
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yeah, the part about other people's take on him... well, I was always in a situation of being a kid and hearing this come from the adults, so I had nothing but their word to go by. And now? The majority of those people are gone, including my own dad, so the past is past and their issues with him can no longer be addressed. I only have my own judgement to go by. But I think it's worth establishing some kind of relationship, however limited at first, if only for the sake of family and learning the truth about them. Know what I mean??

    Now the cousin's wife has friended me on FB :) And fwiw, I set up a separate FB account to talk to them, so they are not privy to the one I share with my friends and close family. I save this account for the people I need to keep at arm's distance for whatever reason.
  11. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Ya know what? I think an initial "Wow I have some decent family that cares" can be a nice thing initially - but I rarely think that it leads to people wanting to get together for Christmas. honest. I think the guy will be thankful to get his inheritance, sad that the father is gone....interested to meet you (since you are after all the reason he's even getting this money in the first place, you and your Mom) and then go on about his life. I'm overcautious with ANYONE new - so I like the 2nd FB thing - but you're a good person chicky! And to think that your dad put that money aside for him? I think that speaks a LOT to your dads character of what's right is right as well despite whatever else. That's a good thing, and surprising......Good for him. And good for you too.
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Oh, it wasn't MY dad that set aside the money! :rofl: That is the LAST thing MY dad would have done for that brother. In fact, when that brother's son contacted my dad back in '99, my dad refused to talk to him simply because of who his father was (the brother).

    You're probably right -- he probably won't be suddenly involved in our life. I just don't think it's in the nature of ANYONE in that family. We'll see how this all goes. He contacted me finally today with his email addy, so I sent him all the probate info that my mom gave me and offered to send him photocopies of what she has if he wants it. I would want someone to do the same for me. It's the least I can do for him.