Thursday, December 19, 2013

Heirs In Dispute - Sweating Over the Small Stuff

Sibling closeness I, as a mother and estate planning attorney, seek to preserve.  Take control and let them know your wishes.  If not, unpleasant disputes tend to arise.

As the mother of two young children and as an estate planning and probate attorney, I can tell you that the "stuff" in your life is most likely to ignite sibling rivalry when you die.  From jewelry to collectibles to hunting gear -- the items that hold little to no monetary value often ignite the most intense disputes when a loved one dies.

And apparently leaving tangible personal property, what we in the legal practice call your TPP, is the number one thing Baby Boomers care about leaving at death, not money.  Who gets what, that is the essential question.  When I work with my clients documents generally say "I may create an inventory form the disposes of my tangible personal property", if so, the personal representative is obligated to distribute accordingly.  And then I add to the conversation, be specific as possible, envision having to give a stranger directions to find said object.  Glossed over in the Wall Street Journal article, this is key.  When you say "I leave my ring" the attorney in me wonders: which ring, and where is it kept?

Facing your death is not easy for anyone.  But if you are a parent and or grandparent, and you want to preserve the relationship between your children, considering making these decisions and doing the necessary work.  I have seen two brothers who will never speak to one another again because of a chest of drawers, and another client told me "I have cousins who don't speak because of Hummels".

Take control, say what happens, be specific, and work with an attorney to make it legal in your state. Remember, a blog is not a lawyer or legal advice, and should not be relied upon.  It is educational and designed to spur the thinking process.

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