Remember when we were little kids and our eyes went directly to the big, brightly colored, sugar-icing roses on our birthday cakes? Everyone fought over those colorful, sugary roses that contained enough fuel to shoot us to the moon and back, or at least until midnight when the sugar buzz finally wore off and we crashed wherever we landed. We were probably 5 or 6 years old, but already we had learned a lesson that would follow us throughout our lives.
The voice in our heads beckoned us to eat as much as possible including all those coveted roses. After all, “it’s my cake, my birthday! Why shouldn’t I have it all to myself?”
Mother’s quiet, yet serious tone forced me to share, and share equally among the other children at my party. “You have to be fair to everyone,” she would say.
But that just isn’t fair to me, I thought to myself. It’s my cake! I should have all of the slices of cake with the roses on them. (The roses were, and still are, my favorite.)
So it is with much of life. We all want the “roses” in life; that includes our loved one’s estates. You’ve had your eye on that antique grandfather clock, or mom’s diamond ring, or dad’s fishing lure collection for years. You believe you should have them, or perhaps they were promised to you long ago, so you just assume they will be yours one day. Then that “one day” comes and your siblings claim the same thing, so the trouble begins. Indeed, every rose has its thorn.
Until items are gifted to you in person prior to infirmity or death, or until there is a written plan for those heirlooms upon a loved one’s passing, you are entitled to nothing unless it is given to you. Even if you don’t end up with your beloved “rose,” remember that while we would like to have the majority of the cake, it’s good and appropriate to share as equally as possible, even if you feel it shouldn’t be that way.
I have seen with my own eyes good and poor behavior when dividing estates. Those who lead with kindness and care for others end up faring the rocky experience pretty well. Others will watch how you react, respond, and behave. Much to my surprise, they will usually follow suit, especially if the plan is laid out before them.
Make a pact that there will be no fighting. “Roses” are great, but peace is even better!
©2015 The Estate Lady®
Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent. Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com.