If this title sounds confusing...it is meant to ....and hope that it leads you to reading this post. Wills, Trusts, Life Estates are often the "elephant in the room" with families. Everyone knows that they are there...somewhere...but no one ever
discusses them in FULL and by everyone involved..or people who believe they are involved in one way or another.
There are always Assumptions....of course...your parentes would want this...your siblings would do that...Mom would have wanted me to have....Dad would never have given....the list is far longer and more emotionally entwined than any divorce. The people known to each other for a lifetime suddenly become estranged ....family heirlooms are nowhere to be found...houses are "emptied" of antiques...trust no longer exists and relationships are irretrievably broken. If you believe that only happens in other families...and would never happen in your own..think again...your crystal ball could be a lot foggier than you ever dreamed possible. Money and "things" change people...and beyond that...Far beyond that ...is often the needy emotion of Power...Now that parents are gone...the power struggle or "rise to power" begins.
It seems simple....there was a lawyer involved...perhaps more than one over time...and it's all in writing...so there should be no problem....no unresolved issues over who is left what, has control of what....but in the "real" part of estates that is not necessarily true.
Documents...even those written by the same lawyer at the same time are in conflict with each other.
Of course,...everyone is an expert on real estate and the family home, at a value that each person involved knows to be correct.
How can all of this be avoided ? Why the turmoil when the black and white of a legal document expressing someone's wishes should rule clearly and simply.
While it may bring the elephant out of hiding and may not be the most pleasant of circumstances for everyone, the very firm and clear suggestion is that whatever legal documents are involved...a will, a trust, life estate...some combination of those...be presented to everyone mentioned with a lawyer and the person(s) for whom they were written present....with a tape recorder.
Inlaws need to be silenced....regardless of their own perceived expertise...it is not about "them."
It is not unusual to learn that even the person for whom the documents were written does not understand that there may be issues...conflicts...and very costly misunderstandings. Have that family meeting...if miles separate family members...there are speaker phones and conference calls. It may sound like a lot of bother...you may feel it unnecessary....clarity of the desires of a person is always worth the effort. The emotional and financial wrangling that can and very often does result when the voices of everyone involved can no longer be heard is worth every effort made to bring clarity and understanding.
This is a public service message brought to you by Sally K. and David L. Hanson, Broker Associates with Keller Williams Realty.