After her husband died, Jane* looked after her mother-in-law for years. Later when her mother-in-law died, she left Jane a share of her estate. However, some of the family decided to contest the gift.
Jane was stunned! This was her family. She had always had a good relationship with these people. Particularly hurtful was the claim that as a mere daughter-in-law she wasn’t really part of the family.
When you negotiate, it is important to know how the case is likely to be dealt with if it goes to Court. Understanding this helps you work out what to do. In this case, we felt that the family’s position was weak. Jane’s strategy was not to antagonise the family, but to firmly hold her ground. The matter was settled after a judge commented on how weak the family’s claim was.
It is interesting to follow these stories and see what happens to the families. In this case, once the dispute was resolved the animosity melted. When the relatives started hugging each other, we packed up our things and left them to it. And when we did later catch up with Jane, she looked years younger.
* The names and some details have been changed to protect the anonymity.