Jump to content

Finding something marked "private" after someone's death


  • Please log in to reply
31 replies to this topic

#1 Montro

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:37 AM

The mother of a very good friend died 4 weeks ago in a motor vehicle accident, so her death was sudden, unexpected and a huge shock.

The task of organising the funeral and going through her mum's belongings fell to my friend as her siblings (2 sisters) were estranged from their mother, and are also estranged from my friend.  My friend hasn't spoken to her sisters for 10 years.  Their father has also passed.

I've been helping my friend sort out her mum's belongings and we came across a cardboard cylinder marked "private" in her mum's handwriting.  It contains sheets of paper (the cylinder is open at both ends so you can see the contents inside.)  The cylinder actually contained my friend's high school certificate, and her name label is still on the front, so we thought the contents must have been her certificate, but as soon as she peeked inside she realised they were something else; just not sure what!

Would you pull the papers out and see what they are?  This may sound like a trivial question, but my friend is torn as to what to do, and she's unable/unwilling to ask her sister's opinion, and I really don't know if she should get the papers out or not.  The cylinder is marked private, but they could be important; we have no idea.

What would you do?

#2 Ferelsmegz

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:41 AM

Yes.

#3 epl0822

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:42 AM

Private could mean anything including legal documents. The person is deceased so I would open it to check what it was.

#4 HRH Countrymel

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:44 AM

Take it out and read it.

That is what I would do.


I read my mother's diaries after she died, you can't get more private than that.


Yes they could be important - so you need to check them.  

You have been cleaning out her home so you have dealt with all kinds of other 'private' things.. just because that one was actually marked 'private' it really is no different.


#5 miinii

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:44 AM

tbh i would probably have a look. It could be marked private but the contents may not be what she originally had in it when she marked it "Private".

#6 JustBeige

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:53 AM

Yes I would.  Your friend is doing this because everyone else in the family has bailed, so she has no choice.  It could be anything - but whatever it is she does need to go through it and make a choice on whether it is to be kept or thrown out or given away.




Did the mum have a will?   If so, then maybe the executor should be opening it.



#7 Mishu

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:59 AM

I know you are asking from a moral perspective, however from a legal perspective I don't think privacy continues after someone's death?

I would open it and read it. From a practical perspective, unless your friend's mother had a lawyer, there is no-one else to do it. It could be important, as PPs suggested, such as a will. It could end up being of significant sentimental value to your friend. There's no point in ignoring it or pretending it's not there. You found it for a reason.

Re reading your Mum's diaries countrymel. All I can say is you're a brave woman. I wouldn't want to read my mother's. Not that she keeps any, but I'm sure that there are things I rather leave unknown lol. Funny, I keep a journal and I'm not sure how I would feel if DS were to read them. But I'd have no problem if my grandchildren or later generations read them. Can't explain why though.

#8 Kay1

Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:59 AM

Yes I absolutely would.

#9 choccy2

Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:11 AM

yes I would look at it.  
It may be something important and she is already charged with finalising her mother's affairs - I don't see this as any different. Just one more thing to be put to rest.

#10 Berndt Tőst

Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:14 AM

I couldn't possibly stop myself.

#11 IsolaBella

Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:16 AM

Yes I would look.

We have things in Private envelopes.... DHs employment  contract comes in one, as does Annual pay reviews.

I suspect we will come across similar things for MIL in the future, but that may be around where she has cash stashed around the house and details of safety deposit box.



#12 BobBottersnike

Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:18 AM

Yes, I would open it. There are plenty of things that can be marked "private", that aren't of earthshattering importance, but are more on the mundane side.

And I agree with the PP that privacy stops after death.

#13 raone

Posted 21 January 2013 - 07:23 AM

I would look with the intention of forgetting all about it if i had to.  Like if its about the sister

#14 JRA

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:35 AM

definitely

#15 Therese

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:37 AM

I would look as well.

#16 qak

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:39 AM

Don't forget to tell us what's in there!

#17 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:42 AM

Yes,  I'd look.

#18 LittleRB

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:42 AM

No question for me - would absolutely look at it.

I have to be honest and say it's because I'm nosey.

But I can see other "legitimate" benefits to looking at it e.g. it may be important paperwork, letters your friend might get a benefit from reading e.t.c.

If your friend is nervous as to what she is going to find, perhaps you could look at the documents first e.g. make sure it's not a birth certificate that says who her *Real* dad is or something like that.

#19 nouseforaname

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:50 AM

I would look. It could be important. If it was 'top secret'  thing she didn't want anyone finding out about ever then I'm guessing it would have been better hidden or perhaps worthy of destruction lol.

I'm guessing it's important... that's why she kept it. Open it.

Make sure you tell us all what it was  ph34r.gif

#20 EsmeLennox

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:53 AM

Yes, without question.

#21 emlis22

Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:56 AM

I wouldn't have thought twice about it and it would be open by now.

#22 Rachaelxxx

Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:00 AM

Ohhh for sure, it might be something you need to know and if not I'm sure it's probably just some legal or medical document.

#23 mindy05

Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:21 AM

It may be some legal documents your friend needs to see, and I would be reading them in her case. However, your friend probably also should be prepared for anything. After my GM died, we were going through her things and found police reports from when her first husband beat her and she had to take out a restraining order. This dated back to the early 1950s, and we had no idea that this was why she divorced her first husband. (She was my Dad's stepmother, and never spoke of her first husband.)

#24 opethmum

Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:33 AM

I went through my very good friend belongings and we came across this very issue, luckily we looked at it because it contained legal documents and sworn statements and a whole treasure trove of documents that helped my friend's life partner to gain his full assets after his death. Just as my friend predicted his sick and twisted family came after the assets and tried to contest the will. (This was before same sex inheritance laws were passed)


#25 MissingInAction

Posted 21 January 2013 - 09:39 AM

Look at it, yes.  But be mindful that whatever those contents are; she won't be able to "un-see" them and if she has questions about them that she would've liked to ask, she won't be able to ask them anymore.  So she needs to be prepared for that.  She also needs to be prepared to see something she won't necessarily like... what if she's adopted?  what if it reveals something she didn't know about her mum?  she will not be able to ask any questions at all!  ever.  she needs to be okay with that.





1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

How to talk about your pregnancy at work

The workplace isn't always a friendly place for pregnant women. Yet working women inclined to conceal a pregnancy from prying coworkers may be better off opening up and carrying on, according to a new study.

Tell us your story to win!

To celebrate Mother's Day this year we are giving you the chance to win one of five great prizes simply by telling us your story.

Where to get help to help your baby sleep

There is so much pressure about having a baby who sleeps 'all night' , it's no wonder you worry about your baby if she wakes in the night.

Vintage baby names having a comeback

What makes some names have comebacks while others silently fade into oblivion? A few factors come into play.

When your partner doesn't want you to breastfeed

Dads can have many reasons for not wanting their partners to breastfeed their baby, but both parents should learn more about it before making a final decision.

Model mum Sarah Stage shares post-baby selfie

Most new mums would recoil at the thought, but Sarah Stage has shared a post-pregnancy selfie just four days after giving birth.

I'll admit it: I have last child parenting fatigue

If you're a new mum and feeling ignored by the older mum/the old hand/the has-been, please know, it's not you, it's me. Blame the last child parenting fatigue.

Exhaustion is not the same as tiredness

Having a new baby isn't tiring - it can be downright exhausting.

Five posterior babies, four home births

I was on a high. I'd done it all by myself with no help from anyone.

Mum's list of birthday gift demands goes viral

We're big fans of kids' birthday parties - but this is one bash we're glad we didn't get an invite to.

Kate Middleton to receive 'loyalty discount' for second birth

Everybody loves a bargain - including the Duchess of Cambridge.

Fish & chip shop owner's sad note goes viral

A lengthy note put on the window of a fish & chip shop has gone viral due to the writer's serious doubts about the romance of travel.

Pregnant women need good nutrition advice, not judgment

Pregnant women are under pressure to do all the "right things" to have a healthy child. It results in women feeling judged about their decisions.

When your child wants you to have another baby

Giving your child a sibling when you don't want to have another baby can be a complex issue.

William Tyrrell's mum speaks out: 'We hope he is still alive'

The mother of missing toddler William Tyrrell says she has a vision that somebody "picked him up and moved him on ... that's the only way ... to explain for him not to be there".

Family comes first for 23-year-old Tommy Connolly

Most 23-year-old blokes spend their hard earned cash on fun times with mates or romantic dinners with their girlfriend, but not Tommy Connolly.

Newborn all-girl quintuplets 'doing great'

The first all-female quintuplets born in the United States were delivered last week, at 28 weeks and two days.

Model mum's big baby silences critics

He may be less than a week old, but baby James Hunter has already helped his model mum silence her critics.

Jammy, Hula Hoop, Rage: Reddit reveals most unusual baby names

A recent Reddit thread has revealed some of the more creative names in the world.

Woman awakens from coma, learns she gave birth

A US woman awakened this week from a four-month-long coma that doctors had feared would be permanent and learned that she had given birth to a baby boy, according to her family.

'Give us a break': mum sent shocking letter over Facebook baby pics

Posting a lot of baby photos doesn't make you a bad person. It may make your Facebook feed a little irritating, but it doesn't make you a bad person.

In defense of the dads who do so much

It's time to shift the focus off what dads aren’t doing and shine it on what they are.

The modern cloth nappies too cute to cover up

If you're only just joining the modern cloth nappy movement, or would like to spruce up your collection, we have to introduce you to Designer Bums.

How breastfeeding can affect your libido

When you’ve just had a baby, having sex isn’t usually top priority. In fact, for a lot of women it rates about as appealing as changing another dirty nappy.

Should pregnant women be allowed to use 'parent and child' car parking spots?

Is it acceptable to use these car parking spots when pregnant? How many of us would admit to doing it?

Healthy baby from sperm taken 48 hours after a man died

Fertility doctors have described their "most extraordinary case" - creating a healthy baby from sperm taken 48 hours after a man had died.

Sign up to our 30 days of #PlayIQ challenge

Sign up to receive 30 amazing tips and ideas for play with baby during the month of April and submit a picture or tip on our social wall for a chance to win an amazing Fisher-Price prize pack.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

Last chance to win a year's supply of toys

You have less than a week left to win your child one of five Fisher-Price toy packs valued at over $600 each - hurry, enter today!

Childcare is a big problem, but there's more to it

Let’s keep talking about these issues and not allow them to be put into a neat little box that’s labelled ‘Fix childcare and everything is solved’.

Pink's awesome response to body-shaming trolls

When trolls felt the need to comment on 35-year-old singer-songwriter Pink's weight, her answer was an awesome ode to body love.

Fertility clinic offers egg donors $5000

A national chain of fertility clinics is offering egg donors a $5000 payment to cover their expenses, a first for Australia which is raising concerns the money could act as an inducement.

Baby boy abandoned in India amid fresh surrogacy concerns

Australian officials could do nothing to stop an Australian couple from abandoning their baby son, born through surrogacy in India, after they decided they did not want to bring him to Australia.

Herd immunity and community responsibility: how free-riders can make kids suffer

Individual choice works for haircuts and handbags, but not for preventing infectious diseases that kill kids.

Photographer captures 'unexpected beauty' of birth

If there is one thing Leilani Rogers knows about childbirth, it is that no two deliveries are ever the same.

Expectations vs the reality of making a toddler's clothes

Note to self: less sewing, more life. Not the party dress, but the party. The toddler, as usual, has it all figured out.

Mum meets 'dead' daughter 49 years after birth

In 1965, Zella Jackson-Price was told her premature baby girl had died shortly after birth.

How pregnancy probiotics can help you and your baby

New research suggests that taking specific pregnancy probiotics could be the answer to a range of common pregnancy side effects.

53 creative pregnancy announcements

Announcing that you're expecting can be a time to express your creativity, sense of humour and imagination. Check out how other parents and parents-to-be have broken the news to friends and family.

IKEA hacks for the nursery and kids' rooms

Are you one of those that know the whole IKEA catalogue by heart? Love their stuff but want to personalise it? Here's some inspiration to help you realise the potential of IKEA furniture and fittings.

36 baby names inspired by food and drinks

A French court may have ruled out Nutella as a baby name, but that doesn't have to stop you from taking inspiration from the supermarket (or bottle shop). See what parents in the US have chosen for their delicious little ones.

 

ENTER NOW!

Win a year's worth of toys

Last week to submit a picture of your baby at play for your chance to win. Visit the Play Wall to view our recent entries.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.