In my book and in many of my articles, I tell stories of estates I have handled with sad outcomes; either the parents were unprepared when death came, or there are serious and tragic family rivalries over possessions. These stories are avoidable with preparation. Real stories, every bit the truth, seem to stick with people better than a list of reasons.
The best protection against family rivalries is an updated will from your parents, along with preparation and preplanning with mom and dad. So, here’s how NOT to become one of my sad stories in a future book or article.
- Encourage your parents to create a wish list of what they want to give and to whom, and distribute copies to every child or heir. This way, everyone has a copy, and if they are unhappy, they have to take it up with the parents while they are still alive.
- Understand that you are not entitled to anything unless someone gives you an inheritance or a gift. Your parents can do whatever they want with their estate. Just being their child does not guarantee you an inheritance. If you receive an inheritance, be exceptionally thankful.
- Understand that settling an estate is one of the most difficult things you and your siblings will go through, especially during the division of personal property. Chances are pretty good you won’t be pleased with the outcome of what you walk away with, but be thankful anyway.
- Remember that this is not about you; it’s about what your parents want. This is why it is imperative that a last will and testament and other legal documents be drawn up by an attorney. You should encourage your parents to make decisions prior to infirmity or death.
© 2010 Julie Hall