Ask Amy: Inherited land seems like unfinished business – NJ.com

Dear Amy: My father died four years ago.
I am my mother’s trust administrator and recently met with a lawyer to make sure I was doing everything right. My brother attended this meeting, also.
Everything was fine until the issue of 200 acres of land my father owned was mentioned.
My brother said we would sell it when the time came, and he told me that my youngest sister agreed.
I was so surprised by his comment and said I did not feel that way at all!
This land has been in my family since the 1800s. It is the original homestead of my ancestors and close to where I grew up.
Both my great-grandfathers have roads named for them in the area.
Currently the land is farmed and taken care of by a close friend. I know the worth of the land and I understand completely why my siblings feel the way they do. I feel no anger or resentment toward them.
I discussed this with my oldest son and asked if he could work on a map where I could keep 20 or so acres.
My son gave me those options and then said he thought I was thinking with my heart and not my head. He mentioned we don’t live close to this land, and it wasn’t like I would be driving by regularly to “visit” the area.
I know it sounds like I see this land as a memorial to my ancestors, but how do I sell it when I feel such a strong pull to it?
– Conflicted
Dear Conflicted: If as a group you and your siblings end up jointly owning this land, you’ll have to arrive at a solution regarding what to do with it.
You need to think carefully about the future of this land, and research options. Your son seems to be indicating that he doesn’t have an interest in inheriting the land, and so if you held onto it and the next generation ended up selling it, would that serve your purpose?
You and your siblings might research ways to place the land in a trust. My family donated some of our dairy farm’s pastureland to our local land trust, and now people walk on trails through the area where Holstein cattle once grazed. It’s a very good feeling.
Purchasing a few acres for yourself and perhaps selling the rest to the farmer who currently works it might also be a solution for all of you.
I hope you can visit the property in order to honestly evaluate your attachment to it. Take lots of pictures. Understand that your family’s history in the area will always be there, rooted in place – even when you’re no longer guardians to this particular property.
That history will never change and knowing this might help you to be able to say goodbye to it.
***
Dear Amy: A weird dilemma, perhaps, but recently someone in my church circle passed away. I’ve known her for most of my life and have always found ways to work with her.
However, she was quite consistently mean to me (and others). Honestly, I believe her attitude toward me taught me some good lessons in tolerance and basic compassion.
Our church family is now enveloped in extended grief, mourning, and text chains of prayers. I’m having trouble participating.
Any advice?
– Not Bereft
Dear Not: Take and be grateful for the lessons this person taught you during her life, express compassion and sympathy for those loved ones she left behind, but don’t mourn publicly unless you want to.
***
Dear Amy: Thank you for your response to “Lonely at the Top,” a high school girl who felt pressured not to excel in a sport because her friend was doing it.
I was raised by a parent who pressured me to let everyone else win so that they “wouldn’t feel bad.” This was the case whether it was a game of Clue, a swim meet, or an academic competition.
Because I was a kid who wanted to please the adults, I grew into an adult who has always diminished my own accomplishments and let others take credit for my work.
I’m in my 50s now and am just starting to confront this pattern.
We need to let kids and teens excel – even when it means that others come in second or third or last – without feeling guilty for being good at things.
– Wish I Was a Winner
Dear Wish: My pro-competition stance has elicited a mixed response. Thank you for yours.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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