Dear Aunt Lisa,
I hope you are doing well. I am writing to you for advice regarding a difficult family matter.
My parents recently passed away, leaving behind their Harare house for my sibling and I to inherit equally. However, my uncle (my father’s brother) is now demanding that the house be transferred to him, claiming he deserves it.
While my uncle did help my parents on occasion, he has his own home in the village and financial means to support himself. Transferring the house to him would leave my sibling and I with nothing from our parents’ estate.
My uncle is using emotional arguments and guilt tactics to pressure us, but I feel this goes against my parents’ wishes. Culturally, property tends to stay within the family, but I worry giving in sets a bad precedent and opens the door for my uncle to demand more.
Aunt Lisa, I turn to your wisdom in hopes you may guide me in navigating this difficult situation in a way that honours both my parents’ memory and our family harmony. I appreciate any insights you could offer to help me stand my ground respectfully while protecting my rightful inheritance.
I have read your column for years and seen how you’ve helped many navigate complex family dynamics with care, compassion and clear thinking. I hope you may share some of that wisdom with me now.
Aunty Lisa responds:
I understand this is a difficult situation, made more complex by family dynamics and cultural expectations. However, I believe there are respectful ways to navigate this that protect what rightfully belongs to you and your sibling.
I encourage you to speak with your uncle calmly and kindly. Explain that while you understand and value his help in the past, you believe your parents intended the house to pass to you and your sibling. Appeal to his sense of fairness and your parents’ wishes.
If your uncle continues to pressure you, remain firm but respectful. Reiterate that you appreciate his support of your parents when they were living, but legally and morally the house belongs to you and your sibling now. Do not be drawn into emotional arguments or guilt tactics.
If needed, seek input from other relatives who may help mediate. But do not transfer ownership of the house unless it was explicitly written in your parents’ will. Protecting your rightful inheritance shows you honor your parents’ memory and final wishes.
Ultimately, your uncle’s demands stem from his own needs and perspective. You cannot control that. But you can control how you respond in a way that is respectful of both your uncle and your parents. Stay calm, avoid resentment, and appeal to higher values like fairness and honouring your parents’ wishes.
I wish you wisdom navigating this complex situation with grace. Protecting your inheritance does not require disrespecting your uncle, but it does require you stand firm on what is rightfully yours.