Dining alone as I drove back from a weekend respite in St. Paul, my attention was pulled towards what appeared to be estate planning in action. Back in law school there was a term, law in action. It was when the stuff on the books took form and unfolded in real life. In an attempt to give this family privacy, I turned back to reading the news on my phone, but my imagination was already ignited.
Were they sisters? Was it mom or Grandma who died? Is the older one the Personal Representative? Do these women get along, or is this a really tense meeting. My guess was the later, with the small child providing a much needed distraction.
Stuff -- jewelry, bedroom sets, dishes, guns, figurines. We amass it over a lifetime, and sometimes upon death it can cause huge arguments in families. A lightening rod for all the repressed anger and tension over which child was loved for or given special treatment. Accusations about "loans" made by mom and dad fly; words, insults and profanity tossed around, often with regret.
One does not one to think of their loved ones engaging in such behavior, but the loss of a parent, especially mom, is emotionally devastating for many. And they don't always act their best during grief. Anticipate the worse situation, and planning accordingly.
If you have a will, it likely contains a clause about you creating a list of tangible personal property. If so, create the list. Make an inventory of what is special and state who it should pass to upon your death. Don't let the kids figure it out. Skip the post-it notes. Make it legal. And asking your attorney for the steps specific to your state is key -- remember, a blog post is not an attorney.
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