Author Topic: Who gets the family documents? Update post 71  (Read 10938 times)

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CrazyDaffodilLady

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Who gets the family documents? Update post 71
« on: December 07, 2012, 07:42:50 PM »
My aunt recently was moved into a nursing home.  Her daughter “Cuz1” managed the move and cleared out Aunt’s house.  I told Cuz1 that if there were old family documents she didn’t want, I would like to have them.  Cuz1 sent me several large boxes of wonderful stuff.  It will take me years to sort through it all, but I’ve already come across photos, letters, and genealogical records for Cuz1’s father’s family (not blood related to me).

Cuz1 and I have a bond, but we communicate only occasionally, mostly about her mother.  I am much closer to her brother “Cuz2”, who has an interest in genealogy.   I informed Cuz2 what I’d found and said I’d send it to him.  He was excited about it.

Yesterday I spoke to Cuz1 on the phone, and she was upset that I was planning to send the documents to her brother.  She says she doesn’t want the documents permanently, but wants to look through them.  She demanded I send them to her. She said she would forward them to her brother later, but she doesn’t always get around to doing the things she says she’ll do. 

So, to whom do I send the documents? And what do I say to the other cuz?

- I promised the documents to Cuz2 first.
- Cuz1 showed no interest in the documents before she found out I’d promised them to Cuz2.  She did not examine the contents of the boxes before sending them to me.
- Cuz1 spent a large sum to ship the boxes and refused reimbursement.
- Most of the documents cannot be copied easily.







« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 09:07:58 PM by CrazyDaffodilLady »
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Sharnita

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2012, 07:47:48 PM »
I think Cuz1 did the work of cleaning, not to mention the expense you mentioned.  IMO they should have been offered back to her first.

despedina

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2012, 07:56:47 PM »
If Cuz1 had siblings why didn't she ask them if they wanted the documents first? This is very confusing to me.  Does Cuz1 not talk to Cuz2?

Sharnita

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2012, 08:01:42 PM »
If Cuz1 had siblings why didn't she ask them if they wanted the documents first? This is very confusing to me.  Does Cuz1 not talk to Cuz2?

My understanding is that the stuff OP was taking was more directly connecter to her relatives.  I would imagine that just moving her mom and everything out was probably pretty time consuming. In addition, she might be primarily responsible for visiting her mom so sorting through all of that is pretty time consuming.

I mean, one might just as easily ask why Cuz2 didn't help pack up the house and move things out if he had an intrest in any of those documents.

misha412

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2012, 09:24:14 PM »
My aunt recently was moved into a nursing home.  Her daughter “Cuz1” managed the move and cleared out Aunt’s house.  I told Cuz1 that if there were old family documents she didn’t want, I would like to have them.  Cuz1 sent me several large boxes of wonderful stuff.  It will take me years to sort through it all, but I’ve already come across photos, letters, and genealogical records for Cuz1’s father’s family (not blood related to me).

Cuz1 and I have a bond, but we communicate only occasionally, mostly about her mother.  I am much closer to her brother “Cuz2”, who has an interest in genealogy.   I informed Cuz2 what I’d found and said I’d send it to him.  He was excited about it.

Yesterday I spoke to Cuz1 on the phone, and she was upset that I was planning to send the documents to her brother.  She says she doesn’t want the documents permanently, but wants to look through them.  She demanded I send them to her. She said she would forward them to her brother later, but she doesn’t always get around to doing the things she says she’ll do. 

So, to whom do I send the documents? And what do I say to the other cuz?

- I promised the documents to Cuz2 first.
- Cuz1 showed no interest in the documents before she found out I’d promised them to Cuz2.  She did not examine the contents of the boxes before sending them to me.
- Cuz1 spent a large sum to ship the boxes and refused reimbursement.
- Most of the documents cannot be copied easily.

Cuz1 gave you the documents with no conditions attached. There was no notice that if you found something you didn't want that it would go back to Cuz1. So, I think you should go ahead and send them to Cuz2. You promised them to Cuz2 after Cuz1 expressed no interest.

You may have to deal with Cuz1 having hurt feelings though.

I have to put in my two cents worth here as a genealogist. When someone who has zero interest in family history decides to hang on to family documents, photos, etc. with no intention of sharing them, most often those items get tossed in the trash when they die. That is invaluable information as far as a family historian is concerned.

I had a great-uncle die last year. He was long the family historian. He had mentioned leaving his documentation to me when he died as I was the only one in his family (he had no children) that showed any interest. However, because he didn't document that fact in a will, the documents/photos got tossed or taken by someone who had zero interest. I have no idea where they went. Basically 50 years of his research gone.

Rohanna

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2012, 09:28:50 PM »
Do you have a smartphone? Mine has a document scanner app on it. It's not perfect, but it's better than trying to lift and place something fragile onto a scanner/copier- and sometimes a picture "works" better for thin paper than a scan. I would do my best to copy things- mostly because I'd want it for myself too :)
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crella

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2012, 09:38:26 PM »
With something like that I would ask/tell Cuz1 before doing anything with them. The emotional toll this takes is sometimes enormous.  I cleaned out MILs house ending in March and then had to go and do my mother's house this past August, September and November. It is a draining job as you are constantly making decisions, from sunup to sundown. There really isn't any room in your brain to think about what will happen to things a bit down the road. Cuz1 may have given the documents to CrazyDaffodilLady because she said she'd like to have them, and thought they would stay with her (therefore they were 'stored' and safe). If it were my parent's stuff I would want to be asked if it could be passed on.

I'd say just talk to both of them. Cuz1 may be tired and emotionally drained and may be overreacting because of that tiredness. Surely Cuz2 can understand her feelings.

Tia2

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2012, 10:12:57 PM »
The other issue of course is whether Cuz1 has any more right to these items than Cuz2.  I get on well with my sisters, but I'd be furious if one chose to give away family heirlooms to an unrelated persons (which the OP is to the side of the family to whom the documents belong) when she knew I was interested in them (based on the OP saying Cuz2 is interested in geneology).

Is there some issue between Cuz1 and Cuz2 that prevented him being offered the items first?  If he was offered and turned them down, I'd say return to Cuz1 but otherwise, he's got as much right to the documents as his sister.  I'd be inclined to get them in the post to Cuz2 immediately and tell Cuz1 I'd already sent them.

Sharnita

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2012, 10:21:07 PM »
My understanding is the family's documents all wnet in a box together.  Some of those are OP's side of the family and thus are people she is related to. The other papers she wouldn't have an interest in and Cuz1 might have expected back.  As crella pointed out this is somebody who had to move her mother into a nursing home and empty out the house.  Figuring out which papers OP would want and which she wouldn't is probably a bit too much in the middle of all that.  Letting OP search through all of it might be helpful.

As far as Cuz2 , did he know his mom was going into a nursing home?  Did he know the house was being emptied?  At that point I would think he should express an interest in whatever and ideally some sort of offer to help with the work and expense.

CrazyDaffodilLady

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2012, 10:47:42 PM »
More info: Cuz1 has been through a difficult time caring for her mother and clearing out the house.  Cuz2 was of little help, partially due to medical issues.  I got the boxes because I asked for them.  Otherwise they would’ve gone into storage and possibly been lost eventually. 

No one knew what was in the boxes, but logically there would’ve been things for three family lines: Lines A and B from our shared grandparents and line C from cousins’ father.  I am the primary keeper / historian / genealogist for line A.  A second cousin is the keeper for line B.  My aunt was the keeper for line C, but had a lot of old stuff for lines A and B.  I’m pretty sure that Cuz2 will become the keeper for line C.  My genealogist’s instinct is to give the documents to Cuz2.  However, Cuz1 did all the work in getting the boxes to me, for which I am grateful. 

Cuz1 and Cuz2 are not totally estranged, but there is little communication between them. 

Incidentally, there was 130 pounds of history in the boxes. I am thrilled.

The problem with copying/scanning is that the most valuable genealogical documents are over-sized and in bound volumes. 


« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 10:49:27 PM by CrazyDaffodilLady »
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Acadianna

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2012, 12:10:34 AM »
Nothing unusual about being keeper for family to which someone has no blood relation.  My DH, for example, is an avid genealogist (as far as I know, the only one in my family) and has done as much research on my ancestry as he has on his own.  I would say he's definitely the keeper for both my father's and mother's lines.

One of my cousins (no blood relation to DH) recently went onto ancestry.com, with the intent of getting into genealogy and researching our family.  He immediately sent a message to my husband, saying, "You already did it!"  (We aren't sure whether he was excited about all the information or disappointed that it was a done deal.)

So -- I'd say:  scan, photograph, and/or copy as much of the documentation as you can.  Copies can go to anyone who merely wants to see the information, and the originals should go to whoever is most likely (and perhaps best qualified) to preserve these items of family history.

sparksals

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2012, 01:29:50 AM »
For the sake of family harmony, you should give back to Cuz1.  It isn't your decision to make as a non-blood family member.  This should be between her and her brother.   Did Cuz2 assist in the care of the mother or was it all on Cuz1?

People become sentimental and reflective after losing a parent.  You said yourself that she cared for her mother before she died.   She could have been overwhelmed after caring for her mom and dealing with the death.   I think it would be really mean for you to hold onto the stuff.  It really isn't your decision to make... your cousin could have still be in grief when she gave you the box. 

Sure, you could pull the 'she gave it to me, so it isn't hers anymore' card, but do you really want to tarnish family relations over something sentimental to her?  It is not our place to determine that and the kind thing to do is give her back the family momentos. 






LifeOnPluto

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2012, 02:11:40 AM »
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

NyaChan

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2012, 02:32:06 AM »
Personally, I'd tell the two siblings to decide between themselves which of them would be the recipient of the family documents. Then get back to me once they've decided upon who it will be.

Agreed.

bonyk

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Re: Who gets the family documents?
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2012, 06:22:25 AM »
Imagine if instead of documents, it was a chess set.  Cuz1 does not play chess; Cuz2 belongs to a Chess Club.  Logically, the chess set should go to Cuz2, and Cuz1 is being a . . . silly goose.

I'd wait a couple of weeks, and try reasoning with Cuz1.  I'd point out to her that future generations would benefit from Cuz2 getting the documents.