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16 Craziest Family Secrets People Learned After Someone Died

Updated: Dec. 02, 2022

You may think you know someone, but these families found out otherwise after their loved ones died.

Birth Certificate for live baby born
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Her mom lied about her name

“I found my mother’s original birth certificate. Her name was Ada. When she was 15 or 16 she decided she didn’t like that name and scratched it out and wrote in her name of choice. She then told anyone who saw it that the doctor got it wrong and that’s how they corrected things ‘back then.'” —Stephanie Hodge via quora.com. This ranks up there with these surprising DNA test discoveries when it comes to shock value.

Benjamin Franklin's look on a hundred dollar bill. Benjamin Franklin portrait macro usa dollar banknote or bill

Uncle had big bucks

“After my uncle passed away in October, we were quite surprised to find that, despite his hermetic lifestyle and shoddy abode, he had over half a million in cash.” —Anonymous via reddit.com
Wedding rings on isolated background
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His mother had a secret husband

“Going through my mother’s papers I found her passport from Austria, under the name “Ida Pinkasowich.” I thought my mother’s maiden name was Sachs (which I took after she died), so who was Pinkasowich? Well, she lived in Vienna for a number of years. There she met and married a young man, Eric Pinkasowich—I have their wedding certificate—and together they emigrated to the U.S. I have very few relatives, and when I asked about this, all they could tell me was that they think Eric died of tuberculosis sometime in the early 1950s. I believed that until this year. I had cause to go through all of the papers again in January, and this time I discovered that my mom divorced Eric in 1949, for “abuse and neglect”! I found the original court papers she filed and the court decree granting the divorce.” —Robert Sachs via quora.com.

The groom opens the car door

Grandpa had some questionable pastimes

“A sap. It’s the lead-weighted, leather-wrapped club favored by tough guys and mobsters in the 20’s and 30’s. My grandfather had it in the door pocket of his white Ford Taurus.” —BatMally via reddit.com

Close up keyboard of a computer on focus at enter button (English - Thai language)

Dad had multiple girlfriends

“When my father died, we went into his AOL account and found out he was courting three different women from his past and would use the same romantic language and phrasing with each one, with only minor differences. ” —Wendy Boucher-Fischer via quora.com. Disturbing, but not as bad the creepy things that have been found in people’s houses.

Mexico flag on a silk drape waving
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Grandpa had a mistress in Mexico

“I’m pretty sure that my grandfather had a mistress somewhere in Mexico. It was acknowledged during his life that he frequently visited Mexico. I remember when I was a kid, he sometimes taught me Spanish words for things he made in his wood shop. It was 20 years after his death, and eight years after my mother’s, that my father told me about my mother’s father’s mistress. I tried to get confirmation from my aunt, and she said that she wasn’t 100 percent sure, but she remembered that he would sometimes just leave, and come back three to six months later, and that he went every year.” —Woorankdown via reddit.com

Texture of metal black steel

His grandfather’s death could have been prevented

“We found LOTS of stuff related to the collapse of the steel mills in the area and my grandfather’s pension and healthcare being gutted. It was horrifying to see just how callously he and his coworkers were treated. He ended up dying of a treatable medical condition at a fairly young age because he was trying to wait for Medicare to kick in before getting treatment.” —Joey Dalan via quora.com. Imagine if his place of employment had security cameras considering the creepy moments that were captured on a few.

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Grandpa had friends in high places

“After my grandfather died we found a framed picture of Liberace that said ‘Dear (grandpa’s name), thanks for everything!!’ We have literally no idea how they would have interacted.” —Anonymous via reddit.com.
Bare feet of a cute newborn baby in warm white blanket. Childhood. Small bare feet of a little baby girl or boy. Sleeping newborn child.
Helen Sushitskaya/Shutterstock

Dad took out a life insurance policy…on his infant daughter

“My dad passed away in 1999 when I was 37. I flew back to Ontario for his funeral and to look through his papers. I found a life insurance policy on me and it was kind of shocking to find! I had no idea about it and there was nothing for my dad, just me! But to be fair, I was a very, very sick child and it was dated 1964, if memory serves me correctly. When I was about six months old I started having asthma attacks. On many occasions they thought I might die so I guess my Dad bought this life insurance to bury me should the need arise…I’m very glad it didn’t!” —Dianna Bo via quora.com

Wedding photos laid on a table. Studio shot on wooden background.

Mom predicted the future

“My mom passed away on Sept. 11, 2017. I still have only gone through a fraction of her stuff, and she was a bit of a packrat so some stuff I found was somewhat surprising, but knowing her it wasn’t unexpected.  No, the shocking part was in the first couple weeks going through her wallet. First, a little background. My mom was my best friend and my confidant. I’ve been unhappily married for almost 11 years now and very unhappy for the last five. She was the only one who really knew. She also knew that I never stopped having feelings for my high school sweetheart. Well, I opened her wallet one day and was going through the pictures, and there it was. She had kept the photo of my high school girlfriend in her wallet for 18 years. Three months later, [my old girlfriend] would confess to me that she still had feelings for me too. My mom had always had the ability to predict the future, and I have no doubt that she thought we would get back together one day. I don’t know what the future holds, but she might be right.” —Sean Devos via quora.com. That’s almost as shocking as the craziest things garbage collectors have found in the trash.

Tan vintage leather bound book laying on old rustic wood

Mom had a wild side

“A few weeks after my mom died, my sister and I spent a day going through her possessions. My mom was very, very religious and there were a number of rosaries and various religiously themed pamphlets. My dad, who was still deeply bereaved, was kibitzing our activities in case we were trying to throw out something she really treasured. We found a few inconsequential documents along with a slender bound book with an older binding in the corner of her dresser drawer. I glanced at it and immediately put in the “toss” pile. My dad said, “No! Don’t throw that out!” I said it wasn’t something we needed to keep. He insisted, “No, it’s a prayer book! I’m sure it is! Hand it over!” I said, “OK, if you want it.” It was all I could do to keep from guffawing, but I could hide my laughter more than he could hide his red face. It was a 1940s-era sex manual. Can I get an “Amen?”” —Anonymous via quora.com

navy uniform
Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock

His father was a military hero

“My father always said that he had joined the Navy in order to avoid being drafted into the Army during the Korean War, but had done his best to get out of serving in the military at all. I had always been under the impression that he’d been a goof-up during his tour of duty, so much so that he’d gotten some sort of compassionate discharge halfway through his tour to go home and take care of his sick mother because his superiors were sick of dealing with him. Imagine my surprise to find his actual discharge papers and other military papers and [find] out that not only had he served his entire tour of duty, but he’d served with honors and gotten a couple of promotions to the point that he’d even had a bit role in a Stars & Stripes puff piece on Navy cooks and in fact had even been called back on duty. He had talked about some of his military service, about the goony birds on Midway Island and snorkeling in the lagoon there and how the military had buffed him up and so forth, but nothing about his actual duties. I still don’t understand why he let everybody around him think he’d been a goof-up in the Navy, but now that I know the truth I can see him in a different light.” —Bad Tux via quora.com
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Mom lied about her middle name and age

“I found out my mother’s middle name was Marie, not Mary as I had always been told. Both my sisters were supposed to have been named after her—Mary is the first name of my younger sister and middle name of my older. So why not Marie? I’ll never know. She is also a year older than she claimed—I’m guessing she did that because my dad was younger. We were told he was one year younger, but he was actually two years younger. I’m not even sure my dad knew—Mom never drove, so didn’t have a driver’s license. She was an army nurse and I found her date of birth in her military paperwork.” —Jackie Lynn via quora.com. Don’t miss these bizarre sibling stories you won’t believe are true.

Fax machine, office equipment

Dad had the idea for the fax machine

“My father had a substantial collection of papers and letters he had saved over his life. Inspecting the contents of one dusty box, I found a letter he had written to an old college chum shortly before the outbreak of WWII. I’ll paraphrase it here:

‘What I envision is a network of phone lines connecting our offices in major U.S. cities. Our customer dictates his correspondence into a recorder. The recording is played back at high speed over the phone lines. At the receiving end, another recorder running at high speed captures the message. The transcriber at the receiving end then plays back the recording at a slower speed, and types the letter or message for delivery by courier or local mail to the recipient.’

This idea was pretty radical, for its time. Nothing came of this enterprise, one among many which emerged from Father’s creative mind. But I realized that what it anticipated was the same utility as the FAX machine, which came many years later.” —John Geare via quora.com

permanent resident card or green card

Mom’s citizenship status wasn’t what she thought

“My mom died (mostly) unexpectedly in March of 2018. In going through her stuff afterwards, I found only two things that surprised me. One: My mom was not a U.S. Citizen. Everybody knew she came to the U.S. in 1968 from Germany and she told everybody she became a citizen in 1971. I had no reason to doubt her until I found her Green Card (last renewed in 2012). I’m not sure if she thought the Green Card was a naturalization card, or what. I found no passport. Two: In the way back of one of the closets, in the crack between the floor and the back wall, I found my dad’s old US Army machete!” —Michele Sharik via quora.com.

Golden wedding rings with judge gavel, closeup
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All his grandparents had previous marriages

“With my grandparents, also very kind, loving, honest people, we got the shock of our lives. While writing a genealogy book about my ancestry, I reviewed the final will and testament for each of my four biological grandparents. They were all happily married to each other to the end. But I was shocked to learn that all four grandparents had previous marriages, every single one of them! My parents didn’t even know! They kept it from the family, the fact that they were all on their second marriage. They took it to the grave, but I found all the evidence in their wills. And not many people were getting divorced during the 1930s, making it even more unusual.” —Peter Wade via quora.com. Next, read about the craziest things ever found during home inspections.