An important aspect of an estate plan is to ensure that the people you want to have your assets receive them with the least complication and minimal costs. Often, the most overlooked assets are the sentimental pieces that may not have much monetary value, but can often mean everything to you and your family.
I hear from my clients in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces that they will “let the children work it out”. But by doing that, you may be creating the unintended consequence of a family fight or even a lawsuit. I have found that, in most cases, these fights are over the items with sentimental value instead of those with monetary value. Siblings are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars and damage familial relationships to fight over a $100 vase!
This can be easily avoided with a little planning ahead of time.
The key thing is to communicate. Talk with your children and grandchildren to find out what possessions of yours, if any, interest them. Through these conversations you can gauge who is interested and feels emotional connections to which items. In the end, the key is to make sure that all of your children and grandchildren know what your wishes are, and that your wishes should be respected.
One way to do this is to make a game of it. When all of the family is gathered, you can provide each of them blank stickers for them to write their name on. Then in a round-robin way, they can put their sticker on the bottom of the item that they would like to have when you pass away. This makes it a little more fun, and everyone can talk about their reasons for choosing a certain piece– bringing back the memories from childhood for all to share.
If the game is impractical and if you have a trust drafted by MH, you can fill out a disposition list by simply describing each item and then listing who gets it. Since you would have already spoken with your children about what they want, you can complete this list with their thoughts in mind.
Remember, when your children and grandchildren lose you, it will be an emotional time. By doing this little bit of planning ahead, you can remove the fuse from a potentially explosive situation. And it can also help you to relive some of you family’s past in a positive way while doing it.
Don’t let the smallest things cause the biggest fights! Contact us at 888.222.1328 today for more information or to schedule your free consultation.
Contributed by MH Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney James P. Plitz
What the Attorneys of Morris Hall Can Do For You:
The attorneys at Morris Hall have 100’s of years of combined experience ensuring that families’ assets are protected from probate, unnecessary taxes, creditors, ex-spouses and Medicaid spend-down. The attorneys also help those in Arizona and New Mexico to apply for and receive Medicaid assistance and Veterans Benefits. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.