Tag Archives: inheritance

Where There’s A Will

When is the last time you took a look at you will? Your will. You have one don’t you? What’s that you say; you’re not Thurston Howell III? Well, it’s not about money (entirely.) Nor is about great “I gotchyas” from beyond the grave. (The image of┬áChristina and Christopher Crawford being inexplicably iced out comes to mind.) Wills can of course be used to have one’s last say but that’s not the true intent. We have wills so as not to leave a mess behind. It is our final act of cleaning up after ourselves.

Of course wills are crucial in dispersing of scads of real estate, stocks and bonds. But they are also key in identifying who will clean up financial and legal logistics. Without a will anyone even slightly related to you, could be left with quite a mess. Wills are not for the wealthy; they are for the conscientious (and can be purchased on line for quite a reasonable sum.)

Wills when written usually are done when expecting the arrival of a child or upon remarriage. But it’s not an archive; it’s a document that needs regular tending. Consider it less of a social security card and more of a driver’s license or passport. Your last will and testament needs to be renewed. If more than five years passes before reviewing the document you might be in for some surprises. Imagine discovering that you had bequeathed your jewelry to someone with whom you’ve lost all contact? What if the executor you named has in fact pre-deceased you? What if the cat to whom you’ve left your millions now has a brother? Things change, life happens, and a will should as well.

Now that you’re convinced to a) write a will b) review a will on a regular basis; there’s one more step. Inform those mentioned in the document that they are in fact mentioned in the document. They needn’t know details (and in fact in some cases they shouldn’t. You wouldn’t want junior to necessarily live his life as if he is receiving an inheritance, would you?) they need only to know that they are mentioned. An executor who has not consented is not going to be much of an executor. This person(s) needs to know where the document is and what, if any (funeral) arrangements have been made.

Writing a will, making funeral arrangements, and discussing it, will not hasten your demise. If you believe (and I’ve known those who don’t) that our time on the planet does have an expiration date; planning for that time is just part of life. Nobody wants to believe that his or her stay on the planet was meaningless. We try, as we stumble along to make some sort of positive impact. Leaving behind bereaved people who must divine or recall your wishes and intentions is simply not a great legacy.


Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Cultural Critique


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Inheritance Allowances

According to reports, retirees are distributing (what would have been) inheritance to their children while they are still very much alive. This is not a new phenomenon; it is just going by an awkward and clumsy new name. “Early distribution of inheritance” is also known as supporting your adult children. The reasons for the life support are somewhat varied. There are adult children who come upon unavoidable and devastating life experiences, and need a hand. Thank goodness for family. But the stories that seem to bubble up, and are told rather defensively, seem to be of a different ilk.

Married retirees speak of their adult children “needing” health insurance and suggesting that it would be tantamount to eating one’s young to have these grown-ups go uninsured. Spend your money on whatever you’d like Mr. & Mrs. Retiree, but no one ‘needs’ health insurance (yet.) What your elderly children need is healthcare. Purchase hospitalization or cataclysmic insurance if you must. But they can go to doctors and pharmacists on their own. If they can’t afford those bills, chances are that they (or at least their children) qualify for assistance. Don’t confuse what your children “need” with what you or they may “want”. If you do that you might end up paying off your elderly child’s six-figure student loan debt.

Yes much of higher education is ridiculously expensive. But so are sports cars, and sable coats. Before buying sable most people would have to do a little R.O.I. exercise. “Will I miss the money that I would spend on this coat?” “Do I have a life which will enable me to get use out of this coat?” It’s pretty much a given that this exercise does not include “How high is the credit limit on all my cards?” If you can’t afford it, you don’t buy it. If you live in a warm climate, or have a casual way of life, you don’t buy it. For many people, attending any kind of institution of higher education will demand incurring debt. But it never should be more than the projected career can support. The high school teacher with $100,000 in debt either had very poor advice or experienced some sort of catastrophic event. Four years of a private liberal arts education is a luxury few can afford. Two years at a community college followed by two years in an accredited college/university can be made affordable by most. Savings, grants, awards, and work-study (students do better academically when they have a job) can make a serious dent in what needs to be borrowed. For the graduate who wants to teach; you might want to look into public school systems that pay for your master’s degree.

Of course not all baby boomers are supporting their adult children with large chunks of change. Some choose a more homey approach, and modify their existing dwelling, or move to a larger abode to accommodate elderly children and their families. Many extol the old-fashioned virtues of multi-generational living. But often there is something a little less sweet simmering beneath the Norman Rockwell imagery. The retiree might not have pictured a lifetime of parenting of a seemingly developmentally typical son/daughter. The retiree might have niggling thoughts of how they might have contributed to this situation. One thing is pretty certain; these ‘kids’ are not worried about an inheritance. For an adult living with his parents, time has pretty much grinded to a halt. The relationship dynamic has not shifted yet. The two-way street of adult child/parent relations has not been paved. No one is getting older and no one is ever going to die. Chances are they’ve never even heard of Sugar Mountain.

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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Cultural Critique, Education


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