Releasing your grip on your hard-earned money and defying your late mother’s wishes are both difficult decisions. A netizen recently asked, “Am I a jerk for refusing to forgive a debt that will cost my sister a house?”. Read on to know what happened and drop your take in the comments section!


Sad elderly woman with teary eyes looking through the window
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The Original Poster’s (OP’s) mother died about 2 months ago. She didn’t leave behind much other than a paid-for house (worth about $180K) and a little money in the bank.

What Did She Announce

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His mom announced a couple of years ago that she intended to leave her house to OP’s sister Sara who takes care of her severely disabled son full-time. OP’s mom said that she wanted to make sure they had a roof over their heads and that the rest of her kids could make it on their own.

“Sara does struggle a lot and has said many times that she wouldn’t have been able to make it without Mom.”, says OP.

OP’s Mom’s Biggest Debt

Close-up of a horrified senior woman with her mouth open.
Image Credits: Deposit Photos

When OP’s mom died, she had some bills outstanding, but her biggest debt was that she owed OP $37K.

OP had loaned her the money so that she could fix her plumbing and septic system, as well as make the house more handicapped-friendly for Sara and Jeremy. Mom had been paying OP back every month. OP has paperwork proving the money is owed.

Here Is The Problem

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Image Credits: Roman Samborskyi, Shutterstock

If OP files a claim against her estate like any other creditor would do, OP’s brother John (their mom’s executor) will have no choice but to pay it. But to do so – he will have to sell the house since there isn’t money in the estate to pay it any other way.

This means that Sara and Jeremy will have to find a different place to live. OP knows their mom wanted Sara to have the house.

The Other Issue

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There is also the issue that their mom’s will said Sara got the house, but any money in the estate would be split evenly between the other 4 of them. So technically, they think that means Sara wouldn’t actually get anything (John is talking to a lawyer to make sure he is reading that right).

Sara is also concerned that if she did get a large amount of money (John and OP have both said they would give her whatever they got from the house if it does get sold) – that it could interfere with the help she gets from the government.

What Happens Next

Brothers fight
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John and Sara are both pushing OP to not file a claim against the estate. But if OP doesn’t – then the loan basically goes away. Sara has said that she will pay it back to me and would even sign a new loan.

The trouble is that OP doesn’t believe her. She has borrowed money before and never paid it back – not because she doesn’t want to, but because she can’t afford to. She struggled with money living with Mom – so it is going to be even worse for her without Mom paying bills in the house as well.

OP’s Thoughts

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Image Credits: Deposit Photos.

“If I don’t file a claim – I will be out $37K – and that is far more than I want to hand over as a gift – even to my sister. I’ve told John and Sara that I am officially filing a claim on Monday morning.

They are both calling me a greedy jerk and telling me that I am ignoring what Mom wanted. I think it’s unreasonable to expect me to just forget $37K. Am I a jerk?”, asks OP.

That’s Why Loaning Money To Family Is A Bad Idea

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“This, right here, is why my policy on loaning money to family is ‘Don’t loan any amount of money to the family that I wouldn’t be willing to shred, burn, bury, then dig up and bury again.’

You’re not the jerk to file a claim against the estate. Your mom owed you that money, and as she was paying you back monthly, it’s clearly ‘what Mom wanted.’ Now it’s up to her estate to pay it. Just be prepared for your remaining family members to become alienated from you when you file the claim.”

That’s So Cold Of You!

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“So basically you’re saying you and your brother are thinking of forcing your sister to sell the house, and then splitting it four (or is it five?) ways…. which of that, $37K or your sister’s cut goes to you and then she’s out of a house and will have to rent (can’t see how she’ll be able to buy) a house, which she already has trouble paying bills?

That’s cold. You’re the jerk.”

You Could’ve Been A Little Creative About It

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Image Credits: Deposit Photos

“You’re not the jerk for wanting your money, but couldn’t you be creative about it?

You’ve loaned Sara money and never got it back, but it was an informal loan.

What if you file a claim, accept a loan from Sara to clear it, and with a loan against the house as collateral? Would something like that do?”

You’re Damaging Your Relationship With Your Sister Permanently

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“You’re the jerk. Sure, that’s a lot of money, but trying to reclaim it this way is permanent harm to your sister and could cost you your relationship with her.

It’s not like you’re hurting without it. I know it’s not trivial, but maybe it’s actually worth it to keep your sister and your nephew in a stable safe living situation.”

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