Ben Neiburger, JD, CPA
No two families are alike. They are unique in their dynamics, sometimes in good ways, other times, less so.
Long dormant family issues can quickly come back in heartbreaking ways in the wake of the loss of a loved one. Petty jealousies, born in childhood and nursed through adulthood, bubble to the surface when fueled by grief.
The arguments can be as sad as they are trivial. Who gets mom’s wedding ring or dad’s baseball card collection? What should be done with the family albums and videos?
There is a way to people to avoid this however. Putting your wishes in writing in an estate plan ensures that the parent gets the final word.
The notion of family squabbles after one’s passing may be an uncomfortable issue to consider for some parents and they may well not want to deal with it while they’re alive.
If that sounds like your parent’s there are some steps you can take. Find a good time and place to sit down with them and talk to them about their important role in maintaining family harmony after they pass on.
When estate planning, the more detail the better. Any statement that could be subject to interpretation, likely will be. If there are family heirlooms, detail who they should go to and possibly even your reasons for doing so.
It may seem trivial, but the ability of some well-intentioned family members to channel their sorrow into arguments over hanging onto the vestiges of their shared past is an awful thing to watch. And expensive too: such fights can mean long, protracted and expensive battles well exceeding the worth of the objects in question.
So if you haven’t done an estate plan, do one now. It’s never too late. And if your parents haven’t done one yet, find the time to talk to them about it. It will save you and your extended family a lot of pain and heartbreak.
© Generation Law, Ltd.