Handling the 'estate meeting'
As families come together during the holiday season, you have an opportunity for the too-easily-avoided 'estate meeting.'
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If someone makes an unusual offer or claim, get it in writing or ignore it. These situations can be emotionally charged and people might make statements along the lines of, “I want no part in this.” If you hear things like that, wait for the emotions to cool, then ask them to state their wishes in writing so that it’s recorded and clear for everyone. If they won’t give that to you, then it’s clear that their statement was merely blowing off steam and should be disregarded. If you insist on emotional responses being binding, you’re doing nothing but damaging long-term relationships.Skip to next paragraph
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This is the estate holder’s property; they can do with it what they choose. If you’re involved with such a process, recognize that the person or people making the decisions about the estate are human beings. Just like you, they have lots of feelings about lots of different things. They are close to some people and not as close to others. They have human failings, just like you do. What they choose to do with their estate is their decision and it’s based on all of these factors. If you’re angry about the decision, remember that in the end it’s their decision – no one else is responsible for it. Don’t let jealousy of what someone else is getting cloud your vision of the situation. Most of the time, it’s due to either the flaws of the estate maker or due to a lot of time and care shown by the person getting more that you could have done – but you made a different choice.
(At this point, it might be clear to reader that I’ve seen some very messy estate situations.)
Do it correctly. Once the plan is in place, do it correctly. Have the will or trust properly executed and notarized and leave the documents with a trusted individual, such as a family lawyer. Make sure that it’s binding and that there won’t be questions after the estate holder passes on.
The big thing is to keep the process as open as possible. If you set things in stone or make changes, make those actions clear to everyone involved who may be impacted by the choice. This will offer the best route to long-term family peace.
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