Read this sad story of an inheritance predicament and learn a lesson. When my husband’s father died more than thirty years ago, the inheritance was divided among his wife and three sons. (There are no daughters) My husband’s mother died a few years after that, and her inheritance was divided among the three sons. I say “divided,” but the inheritances were not actually physically divided; rather they were divided on a paper that the sons wrote themselves. It was something like this: one third of an orchard to each son, half of a certain shop to one son and a third of another shop to another son, and so on. The properties had been evaluated, and they were divided so that each of the three sons received the same value. But it stopped there. The properties were not sold so that the money could be divided, and the brothers did not buy one another out so that each would hold full title to certain land or real estates.
Thus the inheritances remained divided on paper only. Mustafa, the eldest brother, was of the opinion that the orchard should stay whole and not be cut into three pieces, yet none of the brothers had enough money to buy the others’ shares. There were various shops and apartments that were also divided into shares on the paper, and these also remained undivided in fact. Ahmad, the middle brother, has, over the years, wanted his shares sold so that he could use the money for other purposes. Muhammad (my husband), the youngest brother, has been in Saudi Arabia for most of this time, and he has been content to leave the matter to Mustafa.
All three brothers are now in their 70’s and have grandchildren and nearly great-grandchildren. We travelled to Turkey last summer, and the situation turned from bad to worse. Ahmad is now not speaking to Mustafa and refuses any communication with him. Mustafa is perplexed and still says that the time is not right for selling many of the properties because the economy is so bad, although he is about ready to throw up his hands and let Ahmad do whatever he wants. Experts were called in to re-evaluate all of the inheritances, and a paper was drawn up and signed by the three brothers.
Now Ahmad is very angry and repudiates this division and says he was mistaken to sign anything. He has gone to court and sued Mustafa and Muhammad. We were recently informed that Ahmad lost the case, but we don’t know if he will appeal or open a new case or let the matter rest.
I feel sick thinking of it, and I wonder if our children and grandchildren will become embroiled in the mess. How much worse can it get? A lot. What if the properties have to be divided, not among the sons, but among the sons’ children or even among the sons’ grandchildren as generations pass away? The whole bunch might be at each other’s throats. When we are told, time and again, to resolve inheritance issues immediately after the deceased has been buried, why do some people not heed this? I suppose they think that they will never quarrel, and that they will all live happily ever after, side by side. It doesn’t happen.
Susan Akyurt has lived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her husband for the last 31 years. She has four daughters, one living near her in Jeddah and three living in the DC metropolitan area. She loves reading, writing and corresponding with her family.