Dear Stavroula

My Sister Does Not Honor the Memory of Our Dead Parents

Dear Stavroula,

We are five siblings, only one of whom is not married. Both of our parents are now deceased. They left us two houses, one here in the U.S. and one in Greece. Our parents' wish was when they die to sell the house in America and for each to receive our share i.e. 1/5. My mother asked us to never sell the house in Greece, for each of us to have one set of the keys and to share it.

The problem I have is that one of my siblings never worked and always relied financially and emotionally on our parents until they died. This sister of mine is a very manipulative person and always gets what she wants. The others feel sorry for her that she is single and not financially independent and they want to let her stay in our houses and take care of them. But this was not the wish of our parents! Our sister refuses to give us the papers that prove that the house is written in the name of all of us and refuses to give us keys to go whenever we want with the excuse that to get keys in Greece takes months! Is there a way to see who owns the house titles? What can I do to honor my parents' wishes? It bothers me unbearably to see my sister exploiting my parents even in death.


Dear Penelope,

Many times in large families there is someone who is the ‘pampered’ one. He pretends to be weak and often uses his ‘weakness’ to achieve what he wants. In your own family, this role for you seems to be played by your sister who has appropriated the property of your parents and in fact with the tolerance of the other siblings.

What you could do to see about the property titles in Greece is to ask a lawyer who deals with such issues in both countries. And, of course, in Greece you can get keys in two minutes.

You could even talk openly with your other siblings who accept your sister's attitude and express your feelings clearly. Ask them to find a common solution to this problem that is acceptable to all. Together you could decide on the use of the house so that everyone is happy.

You ask me how you could honor your parents' wish. You write to me that as long as they lived they helped your sister and supported her financially. I wonder if she in turn took care of them, since all the rest of you had your families.

If your sister really needs financial help and has spent her life caring for your elderly parents, perhaps the attitude of your siblings who still allow her to live and take care of your houses is not unreasonable. Is she at an age where she could find a job and support herself financially if she can't stay in the family home? What will happen to her if you sell the house she lives in? What would your parents have wanted most for her? How would they have reacted to your attitude towards her? So maybe you can find the answer to your question.

If you still believe that your sister has no need and is just taking advantage of you, you can have a conversation with her, set your limits, and if no solution is found, take legal action.

Stavroula Tsoutsa is a Certified Holistic Professional and Life Coach, Certified Heartmath Coach / Mentor, and Certified Points of You practitioner.


One of the most traumatic events in life is the death of a partner.

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