Arguing over money turns us into monsters and just makes lawyers richer

PUBLISHED: 13:19 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 13 February 2020

Fay Ripley's character Jenny in Cold Feet was a victim of a sibling argument about money after her on-screen mother died in the TV series

Fay Ripley's character Jenny in Cold Feet was a victim of a sibling argument about money after her on-screen mother died in the TV series


Arguing over money following the death of a parent is the lowest of the low, says Rachel Moore, yet still it happens every day

There's little unseemlier and more unpleasant than siblings at each other's throats about parental inheritance.

Or furious grown-up children consumed with "unfairness" about missing out on what they consider their "right", waging war on another beneficiary of their parents' hard-earned cash and taking their claim to court for a judge to decide.

Injustice when it comes to money happens. Some people are at their weirdest when it comes to money and can act totally off the wall about wills. Bitter court battles between siblings are claimed to be about 'fairness' but are really all about settling old scores.

It's how people deal with this perceived missing out on what's rightfully theirs that matters and provides an unsettling window in people's characters. Actually, people's attitude to money in general is a good barometer on who a person really is and their values.

Those who see cashing in on death and inheritance as a right are on a hiding to nothing, and people to avoid. Those prepared to drag anyone and everyone through the mud when mum leaves everything to the cats' home.

Cold Feet - the only thing still fresh from 1997, and a superb snapshot of life's conundrums and trials of my age group - dealt with the issue sensitively this week. A fictional situation seen in real life often now I'm in the second half of my fifties.

Jenny, who gave her mother a home with her family for the last years of her life, was left nothing in her will, which stated her older sister, a single childless woman who had their mother in her home for many years earlier, should have everything.

The sisters, like chalk and cheese, had a difficult relationship.

Jenny, recovering from breast cancer, was hurt, not so much at missing out on money, but because she felt the will indicated that her mother loved her less.

Her sister, after calculations on a spreadsheet, offered her 18% of the total, which just made matters worse. A percentage of the love felt.

The mucky and murky issue of inheritance was played out in court too this week when a disinherited daughter lost her legal battle against her lifeboatman father changing his will to leave £300,000 to the RNLI and just £5000 to her.

She gave up her job for her three-year fight to prove her father was not in his right mind when he changed the will. Her fight became her sole focus.

Because of what she had already spent, she now faces losing her home to make up the shortfall.

This woman clearly viewed her father's estate as hers.

It's time to stop viewing our parents' hard-earned cash as automatically coming our way. Life has changed.

One-fifth of people with wills intend to divide their assets unequally among their heirs, heralding more contested inheritances.

You may also want to watch:

Family structures are more complicated causing more disputes over wills.

People live longer and want to spend what they've got in retirement. It's horrible to hear grown-up children with decent incomes moaning about how their parents' cruises, new cars and weekends away are "eating into my inheritance".

Families are split. Wills become a nightmare when blended families come into play.

Family rifts are more common and leaving every penny to help animals - or lifeboats and crews to save lives - feels the best way to ensure money is used wisely.

Money is needed for elderly parents' care.

Everyone has their own reason.

Money matters so much to some people and turns their characters.

We've all seen it - the disingenuous courting of elderly relatives or distant relations and family friends with no children, eye on the main prize, sizing up the house, the savings, the investments to get some kind of bequest.

The type of people who insist on itemising their bill at the end of a shared evening rather than split it, the people who take home from a party any bottles or food they brought that wasn't used (my biggest bugbear, the meanies).

There's nothing like money to divide us. Unless our attitudes change and we feel we deserve nothing, these hideous public spats that wreck relationships will go on, with lawyers being the only people cashing in.


"It was sheer stupidity. They were a bunch of idiots," said the team leader of 22 brave rescuers who saved the lives on Ben Nevis of a group who set out climbing in trainers in temperatures of minus 20 and winds of 80mph.

The group, who had no climbing equipment, were airlifted to safety during the worst storm in a decade in a four-hour rescue mission, risking others' lives as well as their own.

People raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for rescue teams, air ambulances and lifesaving equipment so ignorance and foolhardy behaviour should be billed.

Just like the daft people who still take inflatables into the sea off Norfolk and Suffolk beaches every year, despite warnings about strong currents.

If inflatables are not to be banned, then users who get into peril and need to be rescued should have to pay for their rescue.

A bill of thousands will soon make people act more responsibly.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Norwich Evening News. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News