I come from a very large family, and when my grandmother passed on we had a
reunion everything from her home was laid out and we all received numbers and
little stickers. We then went inside and place our # on each item we wanted, if
someone else wanted the same item, they also placed their # on it and it was up
to them to talk it out discuss and figure out who should get it. The Tinkertoys
that we all played with as children had the most #'s and it ended up going into
our storage unit where we keep all the family reunion items. Every year, we all
get to see the toys and now it has been a part of several generations of
memories.Planning is the most important part of this process and
working with a lawyer that understands how to enable you to pass down not just
the tangible assets but the intangible assets as well.
In my family, my mother and everyone agrees that in the case of her death,
things will return to those who gave the items to my mother first. When my
husband"s parents died, we were out of state and were amazed to come and
discover that family had just come in and taken what they wanted. My
sister-in-law came to the door in a silk robe we had just given my
mother-in-law. The family is large and we decided to avoid permanent feeling,
to just let it pass, but I would suggest to other families to discuss and
consider an agreed on approach, so all can have something to cherish and
remember loved ones by..
My father died 4 years ago and in his will, everything was left to his wife (my
step-mother.) Though I try not to, I occasionally still grow frustrated knowing
that I have received nothing from his estate, yet she retains everything my
father had and also from his parents. Eventually all these things will go to
her children (who will likely sell them.)It's forced me to become a
better person and realize that worldly possessions have little impact on the
person. I still retain memories of my father and all of the things that he's
given me- his genetic code, his personal morals and his unconditional love.
These treasures are something my stepmother wanted more than anything, and will
never be able to have. Really, what is a family bible or pie plate
compared to these things?
My grandma died and one of her daughters got her cookbooks. No one on that side
of the family speaks her native language, but they are not willing to give them
to others who speak that language.
What happen when a parent thinks they are giving you the best stuff and you
don't even care for it? My mother-in-law has already given us several things
that I don't care for and has a few more that she wants us to have. Her
daughter (my sister-in-law) likes those things but we don't feel like we can
give them to her while mom is still alive. So I guess we just hold on to them
until she is gone, then we can give them away.
Parents need to do proper estate planning before they die. failure to do this
has caused a terrible rift in my family which has never been healed. The most important reason to do estate planning is NOT to avoid taxes or
divide up property. The most important reason is to PRESERVE THE FAMILY. My dad was in denial about dying and refused to get it done even though
we begged him for years. It has almost destroyed our family. Please, don't let this happen to your family. GET IT DONE.
Our parents have given each of us a list, with pictures, of who is to get what.
If anyone of us have a problem we and take it up with them now.
DJ, in our case it was successful to work this out prior to my father's death
(he was last to die). He had the four of us write down what we wanted, then he
went through each list and where more than one person wanted the same item, he
balanced that out so everyone was happy. Then he made a master list with what
each person was inheriting. This was a healthy approach because he
knew he wasn't going to live forever--no denial there--and wanted us to avoid
conflicts.It was also interesting that there were a few items that
no one really cared for, but they were such a part of the family that we each
divided those up too. Thus my brother for example, has a set of silly ceramic
chickens on full display in his kitchen.
My sister and I inventoried all my mother's belongings and actually sorted them
by category and market value. then we made notes of what items each of us would
most likely have the most interest in. this list was copied for each of us to
review and claim. this worked really well. Things no one wanted were put to an
auction house and we all split the take on that. In case of books, it's time
consuming but worth it to photocopy the important pages at least. My father's
letters were important to us, so we copie all of them- one entire set to each of
us, and divided the actual letters. The eldest got the first third of the
letters, the middle got the middle letters, i was the youngest and got the last
I remember when my maternal grandmother died several years ago. There were many
treasures in her basement. there were at least three things that I really
wanted. When my mother asked me what I wanted, I told her, and everything I
mentioned had gone to a particular sister. I finally asked her what was left
that I could choose from. I then picked something from that group. Recently I
saw that she was selling the one thing that I had wanted most. It was in awful
shape and obviously been neglected. i felt really sad that it was in such
condition and that she was selling it. Thank heavens I never said anything to
her about it, but I was dissapointed to find out how greedy she was.
I am an estate planner. The parents and kids will not sit down and work these
matters out prior to death.....they just won't. The best plan is to inventory
and appraise everything after death (there are companies that provide this
service at a nominal cost), give a copy of the inventory to each beneficiary,
have them select the items they are interested in taking as part of their share.
If more than one beneficiary wants a particular item, those parties can bid on
the item, with the proceeds going to the estate for equal distribution to all
beneficiaries. This is a time-tested method that has never "not" worked or had
beneficiaries harboring bad feelings towards each other. Why? Because they all
have an element of control over the situation. Bless the lives of your family by
requiring in your estate plan that this method be implemented.
I like the idea of mom and dad, when they are older, writing memories to go with
treasured items to be handed out. When mom and dad have grandchildren, start
giving out the items to the children on mothers and fathers day, birthdays, etc.
so the grandchildren can enjoy the items as they grow up, too. This helps clean
out the important items. Then, when mom and dad need to downsize or move into
elderly care, cleaning out the house isn't so stressful. It also provides
opportunities for the grandchildren to talk to grandparents about the items when
they visit. Then, the grandchildren learn about family traditions and customs.
It is a win/win for everyone.
Since the possessions in question belong to the parents, I think that they
should gift them however they choose. It is better for the children to be angry
at the departed parent than to create issues between the remaining children. I
have a list for my children. It was created with very little input from my
children. It is not monetarily evenly divided, it is divided as I see fairly,
with children who treasured a particular item being given that, and everyone
getting something they have loved. I have written the reasons that I
distributed each particular item. The list is no secret. I think it
will work out better than the chaos that reigned after my parents died. Many
feelings were hurt, and 15 years later, there are still issues over who got,
stole, or appropriated different possessions.
A very simple solution to the possessions of parents is to sit down with the
children and decide who gets what. Make a master list. That is what my
parents, myself and my two sister's did. So when they leave this life it is