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Slipping Under The Radar To Get That Credenza

Several years ago my Uncle, during a party at his house, asked me if I would like to have a certain piece of furniture. My wife and I had just purchased a new house that was much larger than our old place and we did not have much in the way of furniture so I gratefully accepted. While this piece was old it was well maintained and much more expensive than anything we would have been able to afford. I would need to rent a van to get it and my Uncle told me to take as much time as I needed as there was no rush.

Another relative (AR) made several comments over the course of the evening along the lines of how nice the piece was, how expensive it was, how well it would match his furniture and how lucky I was that my Uncle was giving this to me.

Not long after, my Uncle started to feel faint and short of breath so he made an appointment with his doctor. Less than two months later he had died of cancer.

During his illness I never even thought of the piece of furniture he had offered me and after his death I felt that it would be petty to bring it up to his partner as he was deeply into the grieving process and the burden of dealing with the death of a loved partner of many years. I offered all the support I could and a shoulder to cry on but I just could not bring myself to ask about the piece of furniture even though I wanted it more now than ever as a reminder of my Uncle.

A few months after his death I received a call from my Uncle’s partner. He asked me if I was still interested in the piece. It turns out AR had just called and asked if I had ever picked it up. Upon finding that I had not, AR asked if he could come by with a truck and get it for himself.

I don’t think I have ever been more mad at a relative before. I rented a van and picked it up that weekend and it has had a prominent place in my living room ever since. 1012-10


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  • MamaToreen July 30, 2015, 6:38 am

    Wow. The only thing I can say is, “Family is such a mixed blessing”

  • lkb July 30, 2015, 6:40 am

    Eh….maybe AR was a bit tacky in the broad hints about wanting the piece but otherwise, it’s hard to get worked up over this one.

    AR did wait several months before asking about it. Who knows — maybe AR was chatting with the partner and the subject of the furniture came up. “Yeah, I’m now finally able to get back to clearing out that stuff like we were doing before (Uncle) got sick. There’s still a lot here. Including that (furniture), which is a b— to move….”
    “So, OP never picked it up? I wonder if OP changed his mind? If that’s the case, may I?”

    It was gracious of the OP to not have brought it up until then, but I can’t see why AR was wrong to ask after several months.

    • lkb July 30, 2015, 10:48 am

      My apologies: I meant to start with my sincere condolences to the OP, the OP’s uncle’s partner, and AR for their loss. May the uncle rest in peace and his loved ones be comforted.

    • Lacey July 31, 2015, 11:50 am

      I think there’s nothing wrong with asking, but AR should have asked the OP instead of the partner.

  • Shannan July 30, 2015, 6:42 am

    Why are you mad? AR was just asking if it was available since it hadn’t been picked up. Seems to me you’re being mighty touchy.

    • PM July 30, 2015, 3:20 pm

      Because it’s rude to ask for other people’s possessions while they’re still sitting in their homes? Whether or not OP had picked it up, AR had no right to that piece of furniture. Asking for it was rude.

    • Lacey July 31, 2015, 11:51 am

      Also, that was going behind the OP’s back. Asking the OP if they still wanted it would have been fine.

  • Margo July 30, 2015, 6:53 am

    It sounds as though both you and you uncle’s partner dealt with this in a polite and appropriate way. Unless the other relative carried on making comments about wanting the item, after you had collected it, I don’ think that them asking was *necessarily* rude, but their snide comments when you were first offered it were rude.

  • Ergala July 30, 2015, 7:21 am

    I might come off as weird here, but I find it pretty crass to call up the partner of the recently deceased and ask for something that belonged to the deceased or to the both of them. That’s just in bad taste, especially something large like a piece of furniture. If it was a photo or something like that I could understand, but not something worth money and clearly with purpose. When my husband’s step-grandfather passed away his widow asked my husband if he would like his machining tools. My husband is a CNC machinist and her husband had done it years ago and had a huge selection of very expensive tools. Many were antiques but are far more accurate to this day for measurements than their digital counter parts. My husband made sure his step-father didn’t want them first and got the green light. Those tools are now loved and cherished, and yes they are used.

    OP I am so sorry for your family’s loss by the way. That really stinks.

  • Kamatari July 30, 2015, 7:52 am

    I can see where your anger is coming from, but at least AR waited “a few months after his death”.

    You are in no way wrong; you were given first dibs on a piece of furniture but unfortunate circumstances delayed the transfer. However, when would you have asked your uncle’s partner for the furniture? It was indeed rude of AR to do what he did before your uncle died, but you did say he waited a few months… Hopefully AR didn’t pester your poor uncle’s partner throughout all these months and partner finally couldn’t take it anymore.

  • daisy July 30, 2015, 7:56 am

    I really don’t see what the etiquette problem is here, aside from AR making remarks hinting that THEY would have liked the credenza. Some months had gone by, they were checking to see if it was available. Not like they showed up at partner’s house with a truck or anything.

  • Angel wings July 30, 2015, 8:08 am

    First off, my sincere condolences for your loss. I do think that your relative should have asked you if you still wanted the piece, or better yet not inquired after it at all, however, thanks to your uncle’s partner you did end up with the piece. To create a little perspective, this type of stuff happens after people pass all the time, and if that’s the worst thing a relative has ever done to you, as evidenced by the fact that you were “the most angry I have ever been at a relative,” then you’re more fortunate than most.

  • Dominic July 30, 2015, 8:08 am

    Was it incredibly presumptuous of AR to call and ask the uncle’s partner if he could have the credenza? Yes, incredibly. But I don’t see why the OP has much to complain about, since even months after his uncle’s death, when it would have been perfectly acceptable for the OP to politely mention to the uncle’s partner the arrangement his uncle had made with him, he still had not followed up on picking up the credenza. I’m glad he did end up with this lovely reminder of his uncle, but he probably has AR to thank for the fact that he was finally able to go get it at the partner’s prompting.

  • MrsL July 30, 2015, 8:09 am

    In all honesty I don’t think that AR did anything wrong. He waited a few months and then casually asked whether you’d ever picked up the item that your uncle and his partner clearly had no use or want for. I’d say that this was more of a case of crossed signals than anything else.

  • Mustard July 30, 2015, 8:11 am

    At least AR called your uncle’s partner to see if you still wanted the piece ; he didn’t just turn up with a van and carry it off.

  • Barbara July 30, 2015, 8:24 am

    It’s wonderful that your Uncle’s partner remembered that the piece had been offered to you first, and called you to come collect it. Treasure the piece and think kind thoughts of your uncle and his partner.

    I’d invite the partner over for dinner as a thank you!

    • Fung July 31, 2015, 6:10 am

      I sooo totally agree with you

  • Wild Irish Rose July 30, 2015, 8:24 am

    I’m glad you ended up with it!

    When my mother passed away a few years ago, my brother’s girlfriend (who is an e-hell story unto herself; I’ll have to share that one) went all through my mother’s house pointing at things: “That’s mine, I want that, I’ll take that,” etc. My sister’s girlfriend took her aside and said, “None of these things are yours until the lady’s CHILDREN say they are.”

    • GeenaG July 30, 2015, 12:15 pm

      At my aunt’s funeral decades ago a bunch of her “friends”, church people, and fringe relatives went into the house during the funeral and picked through all her kitchen things taking what they wanted. They also picked through all her clothing and took that stuff too. Yeah.

      • Mags July 30, 2015, 11:39 pm

        Honestly, I think I would call the police and report it as a burglary. I’m pretty sure that even if it was left to you in the will, it belongs to the estate until the executor hands it out.

        • MamaToreen July 31, 2015, 6:45 am

          Mags, you are absolutely right.

      • crella August 2, 2015, 9:37 am

        Oh my…the same thing happened when my great-grandmother died, when my mother was in her teens (late teens? I can’t remember). Great-granddad got back from the service and burial and found that some of the female relatives had come in and taken all the silver, GGM’s 2 fur coats and good china. He was fit to be tied. He was so angry that he was afraid to confront them himself. He said to my mother, ‘Mag, go over to SSs and say that everything had better be returned within the hour or the police will be called’. She rang the doorbell, gave her little speech, and bolted. The things were left on the doorstep post haste.

    • Cat July 31, 2015, 6:59 am

      Please tell us that he did not marry this woman!

  • Jen July 30, 2015, 8:57 am

    His partner did the right thing, for that you should be grateful!!!!

  • JKC July 30, 2015, 9:05 am

    My condolences on the loss of your uncle, OP. It’s good that his partner, once reminded, decided to honor his wishes and make sure you still had first dibs on the piece of furniture that your uncle had intended to give you prior to his diagnosis. AR sounds like an opportunistic person; it was definitely rude of him to go around you like that, instead of calling you first to ask if you still wanted the furniture. If he’s generally a decent person otherwise, though, I’d try to put that behind you and move on. In the long run, you’ll be happier letting that piece of furniture represent the good times you had with your uncle, rather than letting it represent any negative feelings toward AR.

  • Lisa July 30, 2015, 9:14 am

    You are lucky that Uncle’s partner was aware that the piece was intended for you. Otherwise that story could have been even nastier.

    I’m glad you have such a lovely reminder of him now that he’s passed.

  • magicdomino July 30, 2015, 9:22 am

    I don’t understand why OP is so angry at the other relative. While it was kind of the uncle to tell him to take his time about picking up the piece, that doesn’t mean it would wait forever. From the point of view of AR, it looked like the OP wasn’t really all that interested in the piece of furniture, otherwise he would have picked it up within a couple of days. When it was still there months after Uncle died, AR figured it was up for grabs. Honestly, under the same circumstances, I would have thought the same thing

    • Ernie July 30, 2015, 11:52 am

      I’m of the same opinion as you magicdomino. If this was done clandestinely, within days of the uncle’s passing, this is a different conversation. But it wasn’t. The piece was still there months after his passing, and it had already been there for months after the diagnosis.

      But just considering the “months” after his passing, this means at least 60 days, and possibly more, that the piece was still there. I realize that people have different interpretations of time, but months seems like an excessive amount of time in this case. I’m reminded of stories on this site about family members leaving items in the care of others for excessive persiods of time, swearing up and down that they do indeed want their stuff, but never actually taking the actions to come pick it up.

      Also, the passed Unlce’s partner DID call the OP, after a conversation between he and the other relative. The OP wasn’t part of this conversation. I don’t see that conversation as so much of a sneak attempt to get the piece, rather I see it as “Did OP get that piece yet? Its been two months, if he doesn’t want it, i would like it, and I can actually take it now”. The Partner’s call to the OP sounds like it was more along the lines of “do you actually want this, or can I give it to someone else”.

      • essie July 31, 2015, 5:24 am

        I agree with you, Ernie. It sounds to me as if OP is ticked that he had to finally actually make the effort to go get the dratted thing.

  • Jocelyn July 30, 2015, 9:31 am

    Before I condemn AR to Ehell, I’d have a few questions. Is AR well-off? Would he be able to purchase such a fine piece of furniture for himself? Is the furniture something he could go out and buy, or is it unique? Because it sounds to me that perhaps AR had admired and wanted that piece of furniture for awhile, but hadn’t said anything because he didn’t imagine that Uncle would be willing to part with it. Upon finding out that Uncle was willing to give it away, the game changed. Now, perhaps he was heavy handed in his hints, and it would have been more appropriate to say, ‘Uncle, I’ve always admired that credenza, so if OP changes his mind, keep me in mind.’
    Now, from AR’s point of view, the credenza he wants was offered to the OP, and the OP accepts- but months have gone by and OP has not shown up with a van. He probably is wondering if OP wanted it or not; wishful thinking may have convinced him that OP never wanted it and was just being nice to Uncle by not refusing it. He may be thinking, ‘OP didn’t want it, and I want it so badly. It would be a shame for OP to take it, then dump it at the Goodwill. It means even more to me now that Uncle is gone.’
    Maybe he could have called OP and asked, but I don’t think it was necessarily underhanded to call Partner to say, ‘Is OP still planning to get that credenza? If not, I’d really like to have it. ‘

    • Danielle July 31, 2015, 1:18 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking when I read this story. I’ve been on AR’s side of the story before. My mother had an antique doll that I admired and longed for my whole childhood. Some of my favorite times were the rare occasions that my mother would let me help her dress Peggy (she had different dresses for each season) and told me stories about where she came from (originally belonging to my great great grandmother). Eventually, my elder sister inherited the doll (family tradition dictated it go to the oldest daughter). It irks me that she doesn’t appreciate the doll the way I would have. Perhaps AR felt similarly about this piece of furniture? If he does, doesn’t it show profound character that he reminded Uncle’s partner that OP was originally promised the piece, rather than just asking for it for himself?

  • hjaye July 30, 2015, 9:47 am

    I would almost give AR a pass if when after inquiring if you had picked up the furniture, he asked your uncles partner if he (AR) could call you to see if you still wanted the piece, or even ask partner to have him ask if you still wanted it.

    However, he did not do that, upon finding out you had not picked up the piece of furniture, he saw an opportunity to swoop in and grab it before you did. So yeah, I think that was pretty low.

  • Skaramouche July 30, 2015, 9:59 am

    Wow. I’m a bit speechless. Lucky that the partner remembered that you had been offered the piece of furniture. Or perhaps the relative inadvertently informed him by asking if you had picked it up. In any case, I’m glad it turned out well. Some people are shameless and will take advantage of any situation they can.

  • Lisa S. July 30, 2015, 10:01 am

    I don’t see this as an etiquette violation. Sure, your relative is a greedy, scheming, and conniving weasel, and my first thought was “Oh, he’s an underhanded thief!”

    But at least the greedy, scheming, and conniving weasel politely asked if the piece was still unclaimed before attempting to poach it.

    • Skaramouche July 30, 2015, 3:41 pm

      Yes but the relative was well aware that Uncle had said “take your time in picking it up”. So shouldn’t he have checked with OP to see whether he wanted it rather than with the partner to see if it was gone? That’s the breach of etiquette.

      • Lynne July 30, 2015, 8:38 pm

        But did Uncle really think that would mean 4+ months?

        • MamaToreen July 31, 2015, 6:47 am

          It most likely wouldn’t have been anywhere near that long had Uncle not passed suddenly

      • essie July 31, 2015, 5:49 am

        I didn’t see where AR knew about the “take your time in picking it up” part. From the story, OP was willing to accept it just to have something to fill empty space in the new house, but AR really wanted it. After several months, AR asked if it was still available.

        FWIW, OP never indicated when he thought it WOULD be appropriate to arrange to to pick up a piece he apparently had no enthusiasm for. Yes, turning to the partner as soon as the coffin’s covered with dirt and saying “I’ll be picking up my furniture at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. Make sure it’s ready and the door’s unlocked” is neaqrly inconceivable, but if Uncle’s partner still hasn’t started sorting through Uncle’s belongings after a couple of months, it would not be presumptious to say “Let me know when you’re ready for me to pick it up.”

  • another Laura July 30, 2015, 10:02 am

    My MIL “J” told me that after her MIL “M” died, her BIL and his wife went to “M’s” house basically as soon as the funeral was over, took pretty much everything, then drove to their home (about 10 hours away). She mentioned that they had hardly visited when M was living, and when they did come, always found other places they wanted to spend their time.
    I asked my MIL if she was sad not to have tangible things to remember her MIL (they were very close, my MIL did all of the caregiving once M needed it).
    J replied that she got the most important thing, memories of her time with M. That’s when I reconfirmed how awesome my MIL is! 🙂

    • MamaToreen July 30, 2015, 12:28 pm

      Thank you. We all need to hear more stories like that. Luckily there won’t be many bad stories in my family. I married an only child, and My brother is a wonderful man who is happily single, and with whom I will be happy to evenly share our inheritance. (We’ve both told my parents to spend it all and enjoy it while they’re alive)

  • Jen July 30, 2015, 10:43 am

    My mom had a friend who is co-executor with her brother, she came to their father’s house and her brother had been down the weekend before, cleaned out the whole house and left her a bed. Even took a comforter that was hers, and not her dads.

    • Lizajane July 30, 2015, 9:07 pm

      The estate attorney and I would be undoing that quick, fast and in a hurry.

    • Mags July 30, 2015, 11:41 pm

      OOOOOhhhhh, if there were any cash assets, I’d have tied that up and refused to sign off on any distributions until an accounting had been made of the household goods.

    • crella August 3, 2015, 3:29 am

      This happened to friends of mine here in Japan. Here the oldest son is automatically executor, and the division of the estate is pretty well delineated in the laws, instead of individual wills, although people can earmark certain possessions for certain people but what happens to real estate, bank accounts etc is determined.

      My friend’s husband was the oldest son but he lived farther from his parents, 2 1/2 hours by car, the younger brother lived a few minutes away. They weren’t getting along all that well to start with, the younger brother was entitled and bossy, and doesn’t like my friend’s wife, so any trip back to the home town always involved both passive aggressive behavior and muttered criticism of the wife, it was always a miserable experience, he hatred what she wore, wouldn’t eat what she cooked ‘why did he marry someone like you?’ on and on….

      When each of the parents got sick, my friend and her husband traveled every weekend and stayed over, they did what the could from a distance until the parents passed. The mother passed away in 2011 and then three years later the father passed as well, they had the funeral and came back to Kobe.

      The next time they went, to talk with the younger brother about the division of the estate all the expensive items like antique Japanese cupboards and dressers, pottery etc were all gone, there was nothing of value left in the house, the bank books and seals were all gone too. The next time they went (while still arguing about the disappearance of the furnishings) they swung by the in-law’s house and saw that it had been sold! The brother pocketed all the money, didn’t even tell them he was selling the house.

      When the older brother complained the younger one blew up at him, screaming and yelling, guilting him and his wife for living so far away, just tore them both to shreds. He bullied and browbeat the older brother into renouncing his right to inherit. The older brother, after the years of petty attacks on his wife and all they endured while their parents were ailing, figured it was worth it to be rid of him once and for all.

      I heard this story over coffee one day after the gym. The wife felt so bad for her husband, and she was having trouble getting over it , and needed to talk. I said to her, ‘You know this is illegal, don’t you? Your husband is entitled by law to inherit at least half of he estate, as well as being the one to decide the distribution. His brother can’t legally force him to renounce his rights, and he certainly can’t sell the house without your husband’s Ok. I have to wonder what he did with the paperwork to pull that off”. She had no idea. The brother had made the husband write on paper that he renounced his rights, and made him put his seal on it, but no lawyer in his right mind would accept that as a binding agreement without talking to both parties. My friend assumed it had been official and was filed somewhere, I said ‘It can’t be, it’s illegal’.

      They got a lawyer on my advice. She was going to go with an aunt and try to talk reason into him, but I didn’t think that was wise, with his temper and past behavior. Even if he gave them something, he could still badger them. If it came from a lawyer he couldn’t refute it. I found her a lawyer who gives free consultations and he found a lawyer to take their case. After a few months (2-3 letters from their lawyer) the estate was divided properly. The brothers are no longer speaking.

  • WillyNilly July 30, 2015, 11:06 am

    In my experience, generally if someone is offering a large, valuable piece if furniture to someone for free, especially unprompted, it’s because they want it out if their own house. So considering that, I think by far the rudest person in the story is the OP, who knowing his uncle wanted the furniture removed refused to remove it or even mention it, and instead laid claim to the item but left it lumbering in a dying man’s house and then in the surviving partner’s hone for months on end with zero communication on when it would be removed.

    • AnaMaria July 30, 2015, 10:55 pm

      Um…the Uncle specifically said that the OP could “take his time”. It’s the 21st century; if you want something removed, you put it on Facebook or Craigslist, or you have someone help you carry it out to the curb and put a sign on it that says, “Free.”

      This wasn’t a beat-up couch or some other eyesore; the OP specifies that it was a nice piece of furniture that the Uncle wanted him to have. And I seriously doubt that having it in the house somehow increased the Uncle’s discomfort towards the end of his life.

      • essie July 31, 2015, 5:56 am

        When OP said “Uncle”, I presume he was referring to an older gentleman, whose generation offered good pieces to family members before putting them “up for grabs” to the general public. And if I’m trying to get rid of something and someone’s offered to get it out of my way, then yes, I’d be a bit perturbed if it was still sitting there months later.

    • MamaToreen July 31, 2015, 6:49 am

      Who said anything about zero communication? I got the impression that it just didn’t seem right to the OP to claim it during the mourning period when it might upset the partner to see it go

      • WillyNilly August 1, 2015, 10:37 pm

        The OP. While there was other communication between the OP, his uncle, and the uncles partner, the OP admits to having never brought up the topic of the credenza, and doesn’t mention the uncle or the partner bringing it up. To me not speaking about it, at all, for months, equals zero communication about it.

  • Devin July 30, 2015, 11:24 am

    I think the reaction is a bit over blown for what could have been resolved with better communication. You were offered something you previously had not shown interest in, and then took several months to collect it. I could see that as, “well they’re really not that interested in it”. Who knows how the exact conversation between AR and the partner went, but the conclusion was fine. Partner called you to see if you still wanted it; you did and arranged to come get it. Both AR and Partner might have thought you weren’t really interested, but Partner still wanted to rid of it (not every item in the house is a sentimental memory of the deceased). If the AR had just shown up to take it, then I would cast them down to ehell, but calling to ask isn’t rude (hopefully both you and AR have communicated with partner since your Uncle died about more than just this piece of furniture).

  • NostalgicGal July 30, 2015, 11:45 am

    Cool the jets. Only reasons to get steamed would be if the other person had shown up literally after the funeral to grab the piece with truck parked on the lawn. In this case it was some time after, and you were contacted before the other person could claim it, so. In end you did get it; and no direct confrontation on the lawn? Bonus. I call it as being over the top, being angry about it. This is rather mild compared to a lot of other things reported on this forum.

  • Susan July 30, 2015, 11:58 am

    For AR to get a pass out of E-Hell from me, he would have had to at least make an attempt to contact the OP and ask whether the OP still wanted it. Or the uncle’s partner had already made sounds of “get this out of my house ASAP” and the OP hadn’t clued it. It sounds like that didn’t happen.

    Never underestimate the greediness of the vultures that lurk in some families. My mom had a similar thing happen to her when my maternal grandpa died (my grandma had previously been moved to a care facility due to acute blindness). Her relatives (second cousins or some such, but they lived in the same town as my grandpa, whereas my mom had moved out of state) were even more vile if possible. They substituted crappy china, etc. for the nice pieces that my grandparents have, so it looked like stuff hadn’t been taken, and they expected my mom not to recognize that the heirlooms she grew up with had been replaced with schlock!

    • NostalgicGal July 30, 2015, 11:51 pm

      They at least took a pass at subbing out. Most of the time people aren’t that ‘thoughtful’ and the stuff would have just been ‘gone without a trace’ and halos all around.

      • AnaMaria July 31, 2015, 5:07 pm

        I’d say subbing makes it worse-greedy people can be thoughtless, but these people made a conscious effort to deceive family.

  • kingsrings July 30, 2015, 12:21 pm

    This reminds me of my mom’s side of the family. Her father had clearly stated in his will that his daughters were to split all his possessions 50/50 with the exception of a few items that he specifically wanted to go to certain people. Yet my very greedy, materialistic aunt has made life hell for the rest of the daughters by taking nearly all the items. She and my mother are estranged right now, possibly permanently, because she refused to start the process on getting a stamp and coin collection appraised, sold, and split evenly between the daughters. She was going to keep it and take care of the whole thing herself. In her greedy mind, everything belonged to her, and her sisters were totally in the wrong for asking for their fair share. She finally got the collections appraised after my mother threatened legal action and they weren’t worth enough to go forward on.

    In this case, I’m kind of mixed. I really feel that the uncle should have put who got this item in legal writing, such as his will. Then there would have been no question about who it was to go to and his partner would have given it to the rightful owner. I feel that AR should have approached the OP instead of the partner though because the OP was the one who wanted it, and the partner was dealing with more grief than anyone else.

  • JD July 30, 2015, 12:39 pm

    My husband would have waited come get the piece, as OP did. I would have said something to Uncle’s partner before then, just to let him know we were still coming to get it because I hate to leave people wondering. And hubby and I would have argued about which was correct!
    When my widowed MIL went into a nursing home (she was middle-aged when she had my husband), my husband and I moved into her little place, which had two bedrooms, as I was expecting and we lived in a one bedroom place. The family all agreed with this move first, of course. After MIL died, my local SIL immediately came over to the house –where we’d lived for three years — and claimed everything she wanted out of the house, including a beautiful antique buffet, saying “Mama told me I could have this.” She did this while my husband was at work and before their two other sisters could get to our town. My husband, as I expected he would, said “Let her have it all. It’s not worth fighting over.” When SIL number two showed up a couple of weeks later, the first thing she asked was “Where’s that buffet? Mama always said I could have it.” When SIL number three arrived about a week later, the first things she asked was…. well, you know what she asked. I informed both of these SIL’s that their oldest sister had also claimed it and said their mother had promised it to her, that apparently their mother had offered it to all three of them, and it was in oldest SIL’s house. Both got ticked off, but neither wanted to start a fight, so they dropped it. When SIL number one died she willed the buffet, not to any of her siblings, but to her daughter. She was adamant that it stay in the family because it came from great-uncle so-and-so’s house, she said in her will. I guess her sisters and brother weren’t family? Anyway, it ‘s at her daughter’s house right now, but my husband finally told his niece (who is his age) the truth. The buffet IS a lovely piece, but his mother bought it from a farmer using it to sell his produce, for $25.00, and my husband, who was the only kid left at home and was a teenager, was with her when she bought it. He and his dad both went back to the farm and picked it up and brought it home.
    My husband is so much sweeter than I am. At no time did he notice that NONE of his sisters ever asked him if HE had wanted it. (I had to clean our stuff out of it for her to take it.) Evil me noticed, though. I’m learning generosity from him, though. I never said a word to them about it, and after all, it isn’t an heirloom.

  • JenAnn July 30, 2015, 1:13 pm

    Other than the fact that AR knew it had been offered to OP, why would anyone presume to ask for someone’s possessions in this situation? I would presume that uncle’s possessions passed to his partner upon his death and wouldn’t dream of grabbing after his things. Even knowing this one item was offered to OP, that doesn’t mean that if OP doesn’t take it, it’s up for anyone to take. All in all, highly presumptuous and greedy. You wait for something to be offered, you don’t ask.

    • Kimstu July 31, 2015, 12:07 am

      Exactly. Moreover, just because one of your relatives offers one of their possessions to another relative doesn’t mean they’d be equally willing to offer it to you instead.

      And if a relative who made such an offer passes away, nobody should assume they’re entitled to any of the deceased’s possessions except those who legally inherit them. For all the OP or AR knew, the uncle’s widowed partner might have wanted to keep that credenza for himself.

      It’s nice that he remembered the uncle’s offer to the OP when AR reminded him of it, but it was gracious of the OP not to bother him about it in the meantime. And it was very UNgracious of AR to assume that the item was automatically up for grabs if the OP hadn’t “claimed” it.

  • Rebecca July 30, 2015, 2:13 pm

    I can see why the OP is angry with AR.

    When someone gifts something to another person, you do not stand around and fawn over the gift, noting it’s value and how much you’d like it. It’s tacky and uncomfortable.

    Then to call someone up after a person has passed and ask for anything is grotesque, especially in that sort of way. “Oh did OP ever pick that up? Oh OP hasn’t picked it up? Well can I have it?”

    Don’t ask for things. Ew, just ew.

    I’m glad that your uncle’s partner called to ask about the furniture instead of just saying “You know what, no OP didn’t pick it up, must not want it after all, eh! Come on over and grab it why don’t you”

    If I were that Partner, I would have done it similarly. Possibly with some venom mixed in, heaven forbid anyone ever call and ask for anything of one of my recently departed loved ones.

    Greed over objects after a death is what caused one side of my family to never speak to each other again after my grandparents passed away. Perhaps that’s why I’m so sensitive to the subject.

  • Laura July 30, 2015, 2:31 pm

    My grandmother made handmade quilts, and I am lucky to have several of them . shortly before she died she finished two matching quilts that she told me were for my twins (age 3 at the time). My cousin took one of them after the funeral, before I could pick them up. I asked her if I could trade a different quilt (still handmade by grandma) with her so I could have the matching pair, but she said no, she really liked that quilt. I am still resentful and it has been 16 years!

    • klb4n6 July 31, 2015, 7:01 am

      My great-grandmother made handmade quilts, and when she died a large stack of quilts were all given to my grandmother. When my grandmother passed, my uncle (my mom’s only sibling) wanted her to give one of the quilts to one of their cousins (who, while a generally nice person, is a serious antique collector and believes that if anything antique is around after someone’s death, he should receive it). That was when my mother had to remind my uncle that of all the quilts they had, only *two* were actually handmade by my grandmother. Most of the others were bought quilts. Because another set of cousins had lived with my great-grandmother (their grandmother) when they were teenagers and used to go to concerts all the time. They would take the quilts with them and use them as picnic blankets, and as a result nearly all the quilts my great grandmother made were ruined. By this time, she was in her mid to late 70s (and died at age 81) so she never made any more of them.

      Antique collector cousin did not get a quilt. He is apparently still bitter about it. My mother has one and my uncle has one – she told her brother he could give his away if he wanted but apparently he did not.

      Oh and when this same great-grandmother died, her sisters flocked to the house right after the funeral and were searching through all the cabinets trying to find a bread bowl and board that had been handmade by their father. They were not happy to find out that my g-g had given it to my mother many years before and it was in our kitchen. My g-g taught my mother how to cook (my grandmother never took well to the lessons so the bowl wasn’t passed to her first) and she treasures that bowl. I was actually kind of surprised that the sisters didn’t try and come find it in our house, though!

  • susse4PC July 30, 2015, 3:15 pm

    OP — sorry for your loss.

    I am on the fence with this and see it from both sides: I have dealt with the death of too many loved ones and helped clean out their personal belongings. I just lost my cousin who was very much a sister to me; her fiancé and partner of 25 years has no idea what to do with her “stuff”, and I am helping him arrange the distribution of the “stuff”. For her, no one has come to make claims, but have helped with other family’s estates and the Gimme Pigs can be ridiculous! My uncle had wanted to take a rare antique china cabinet that was my grandfather’s the day after the death was announced. To take it apart to make a gun cabinet. My mother was quick to get it out. (I inherited it upon her death.)

    You may be transferring your grief onto the AR unfairly. We don’t know the AR or the relationship you have with him. You have the piece of furniture and loving memories of your uncle. Please again accept my sympathies, enjoy the cradenza and move forward.

  • Daphne July 30, 2015, 4:39 pm

    Sounds to me like AR did you a favor by reminding Uncle’s partner aware the credenza had been spoken for. I would only be mad at AR if he had told Partner you didn’t want the piece. But he made it clear you had been offered it first.
    Unless something is missing from this story I don’t see how this is bad manners?

    • JenAnn August 3, 2015, 9:44 am

      It’s always, always, always bad manners to ask for a gift. Simple as that!

      • Ulla August 4, 2015, 3:17 am

        Yes, but it is questionable if this is gift or not. There is also quite likely option that the item was not necessary and uncle and partner wanted to get rid of it, but were too something (lazy/uninterested/tired/busy/grieving/…) to sell or dispose it by other means. I think there is huge difference between “I want to give this item to you as a gift and memento from us, and I think you specifically might like and appreciate it” vs “I want to get rid of this item and as I don’t want just throw it away, I thought to ask if you’d like to have it. If you just come to pick it, it’s yours”. In first case I think it can be counted as gift. In second one, I don’t think it’s actually gift. It’s closer to business where the payment for the item is to get rid of it.

        And in second case I think it’s okay for other person to express interest to the item if the first person did not want it. Of course, the owner does not have any responsibility to give item away with the same conditions for other person, but I think asking is not rude. Of course, it’s questionable situation in the sense that it’s hard to see if its case one or two.

  • Cat July 30, 2015, 8:13 pm

    The death of a beloved relative is enough to drive the thoughts of everything else out of ones mind. I understand why the OP did not think of a piece of furniture during the months following the funeral.
    The AR should have phoned the OP and asked if he still wanted the piece and offered to purchase it if it was no longer wanted for his home. Since the partner knew of the bequest, getting the piece was not an issue, thankfully.
    This sort of thing often causes hard feelings among relatives. My grandmother, who had lived with us for more than twenty-one years, moved in with her son after my mother (her daughter) died. She took all of mother’s wedding presents with her, including the dining room set that my parents had been given and even my mother’s wedding dress. When my father died, my older brother took everything Dad had-all of it. It was worth it to me to be rid of both of them.

  • Marozia July 30, 2015, 8:49 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about your uncle, OP. May he rest in heavenly peace.
    AR was in the wrong. Just as well that you did pick up the piece before he got his hands on it.

  • essie July 31, 2015, 6:25 am

    As I see it, the problem/confusion/issue lies in Uncle’s suggestion to “to take as much time as [OP]needed”. Too broad, vague, open to interpretation and, of course, how-long-is-long-enough-or -too-long depends on how you feel about the issue; “going to the dentist next week” is a MUCH shorter time period than “going on vacation next week”.

    OP thought a few months after the funeral was too soon to ask about picking up the piece; AR thought a few months after the funeral was long enough for OP’s option to expire.

    If Uncle had been more specific (“anytime in the next week/month/year/decade/whatever”), AR would have had a better idea of when to ask for the piece without ruffling OP’s feelings.

  • abby July 31, 2015, 7:34 am

    I’m curious how the offer to the OP was made. Was it a case where the uncle did not want it anymore, and happened to ask the OP because he knew the OP’s new house was mostly bare? If the OP had declined the offer, would the uncle have kept the furniture, or would he have gone down the list of family members until someone took it?

    If it’s the latter, I think AR didn’t really do anything wrong. AR might have thought OP didn’t really want the furniture, and just accepted out of politeness, and it was actually a hindrance to Uncle and his partner who were hoping to get rid of it. Although it was a nice piece, perhaps the Uncle and his partner no longer wanted it but it was too heavy to move themselves, and Uncle’s partner would have appreciated either OP or AR taking it off his hands.

    I understand why OP waited so long. It can be awkward when someone is either seriously ill or grieving to be like, hey, when is a good time to pick up the furniture? No matter how you phrase it, it might come out insensitive.

    I thought from the title that the story was going to end up that AR called up Uncle’s Partner immediately after the death of Uncle and told him that either 1. the credenza had been promised to AR, or 2. OP no longer wanted the credenza and told AR to go get it instead.

    Really, OP should be a little grateful that AR gave him an opening to get the piece without awkwardly asking the Uncle’s partner for the green light.

  • Lexie July 31, 2015, 10:39 pm

    Ah, yes, the mad dash to claim family mementos. OP, I am so sorry for your loss, and I’m glad that you ended up with the piece that your uncle wished you to have.

    My uncle married into a horrible family. Both his wife and mother-in-law have catalogued my grandmother’s house for things they want – mostly things they perceive to be valuable(and her ‘best friend’ is like a vulture too). Which is supremely horrible.

    What’s worse? My aunt ‘borrows’ things (so far, a table, some chairs and various ornaments), only to sell them or give them away to friends. These are generally pieces that have a great deal of sentimental value to my grandmother and mother (my aunt has also ‘subtly’ replaced photographs of myself at my grandmother’s place with photographs of her own children). And (this is an etiquette faux pas on the part of my deceased grandfather), many things in the house were chosen and belonged to his second wife (my mother’s mother; my grandmother is technically my step-grandmother), and holds great meaning to my mother.

    The fact that my aunt is doing this distresses my grandmother greatly, to the point where she’s giving away things to us now. My aunt tends to focus on pieces that are worth enough that she can sell them on. Right at the moment, she is fixated on an extremely kitsch mirror-painting of a Mucha work, which I have expressed affection for since I remember looking up at it as a toddler. It’s the sort of thing that is hideously tacky and virtually worthless without my memories of the reassuring lady. But since I love it (and I should reassure you, laid no claim on anything), my aunt has decided it is valuable and is fiercely guarding her territory.

    One day in the future (hopefully many years from now!), when I no longer run the risk of upsetting my grandmother, I will have loads of horrible etiquette faux pas to share with this site.

  • just4kicks August 1, 2015, 3:51 am

    My sincerest condolences on the loss of your uncle, many blessings to you and your family.

    It’s going on ten years since my MIL passed.
    The last time she was admitted to hospital, she passed a day or two after they admitted her, one of her doctors called my husband one morning and said “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your Mom’s body is shutting down, this would be the time to call everyone who wants to say their goodbyes….She doesn’t have much longer.”
    My husband called his brother, sister and everyone in the family to say “it’s time…please come to the hospital.”
    Everybody raced to moms bedside to say their tearful goodbyes…..except my sister in law, who was (again) on a drug/alcohol bender and couldn’t be reached by anyone.
    They finally gave up trying to reach “Mary”, and gathered in mom’s room to say goodbye.
    After a few hours, she went peacefully, and my husband and his brother signed all the necessary papers and we all started to leave to go to their mom’s house and start funeral arrangements.
    On the way out of the hospital, the head nurse who was in charge of my mom came from around the desk and gave my husband and his brother hugs and said how sorry she was.
    My husband asked for a favor, that if his sister showed up there, please tell her to meet us at their mom’s house.
    The nurse looked very confused, and said, “ohhhh….you mean there is more than ONE sister?”
    “NO….Just one…why?!?”
    The nurse said, “well….while you were all in with your Mom, a very short red headed gal, who said she was your sister, came up to me at the nurses station and DEMANDED your Mom’s wallet as well as all her personal effects (jewelry, watch, wallet) I gave them to her and then said your family is all in room 213, saying their final goodbyes to your Mom….you may of course do the same.”
    My husband’s sister took all of the money and jewelry and turned on her heel AND GOT ON THE ELEVATOR AND LEFT!!!
    My husband hasn’t spoken to her since.
    She did show up at the memorial service, (mom wanted to be cremated), drunk and higher than a kite, and stumbled up front to give a horrible rambling speech until one of her daughter’s marched up to her and physically dragged her from the chapel.

  • just4kicks August 1, 2015, 4:02 am

    I just realized my little story could also fit in with the previous post, “decorum at a funeral”.

    Actually, my husband did speak to his sister one more time a few years after that.
    My step daughter from my husband’s first marriage, called me in hysterics one night to say she had just gotten a call from “aunt Mary” saying she just heard my husband got killed that day in a car crash, and just how sorry she was.
    There was no car accident and my husband was just fine.
    After calming our daughter down, and assuring her he was ok, my husband called his sister and layed into her, telling her if she ever contacted our family again, she would be very, VERY sorry.

  • EchoGirl August 1, 2015, 11:43 am

    At first, I thought AR hadn’t been that rude either, then I re-read this part: “It turns out AR had just called and asked if I had ever picked it up. Upon finding that I had not, AR asked if he could come by with a truck and get it for himself.”

    So AR didn’t ask if OP still *wanted* it, just asked if Uncle’s partner still had it and then tried to call dibs on it. It was Uncle’s partner who took the initiative to ask OP if they still wanted it.

    • Rap541 August 4, 2015, 8:44 am

      Eh this feels like a game of telephone tho. We really don’t know what AR said to the partner, and the OP is clearly mad and likely to interprete things badly.

      Point – even in the bare bones version of the story, AR was asking permission to take the unwanted furniture and giving the partner an opportunity to check with OP before laying claim. Compared to some of the stories in comments, it seems super polite.

  • Julia August 2, 2015, 4:42 pm

    All I get from this story is all I ever get from stories like this. Simply, make a will. It costs almost nothing if you do it online, and it’s not like you have to list everything you have. Just point out that certain pieces/whatever go to certain people. Recognize, as loathsome as it is, that when you die, the piranha will circle, coming for whatever they can get. If you have anything in your possession that you care about where it goes, make sure you say who gets it when you go.

  • Enna August 6, 2015, 12:27 pm

    OP I am sorry for your loss. I think AR was rude because AR dropped hints about how expensive it looked and how well it would go with his furniture. That was tacky. It’s one thing if AR asked OP directly about it.