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Old 08-11-2011, 07:32 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,869,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
The thread title uses the term "ethical" question. For me, it's more of a philosophical question. Let's start with the example of someone who dies and who has two or more children still living. Not making an equal division runs the risk of creating life-long ill will between or among those surviving children, as others have pointed out. So other things being equal I would come down on the side of equal distribution. But other things are not always equal. Suppose one of the children has demonstrated a life-long pattern of quickly wasting any money he or she comes into, for example putting that money into sustance abuse and wild sprees with other neer-do-wells? Well, perhaps the parent doesn't want to subsidize that behavior. In that case, I think it would be justified to have an unequal division. After all, it is the parent's money. I think it was poster Kevxu who said he doesn't care whose nose gets bent out of shape (as it is his money), and I am very sympathetic to that point of view.

Now let's consider the case of someone who has multiple nieces and nephews. Suppose one niece or nephew has been especially generous, loving, and supportive over the years. I see nothing wrong with rewarding that person with a bequest. Yes, it may cause ill feelings if the others find out about it. But it is certainly rationally justified.

When my mother died, my sister and I inherited equally, with the exception that there were relatively small but not negligible separate bequests to her church, to one niece, to one surviving sibling (my uncle), to my sister's two children (my mother's only grandchildren), and to a younger woman who had become friends with my mother. As the executor, I wrote checks to all those people (and to the church). I saw absolutely nothing wrong with those bequests (I certainly did not resent them) and I doubt my mother's other surviving sibling (my aunt) or any of the other cousins (except the one who got something) ever knew about it.
I actually pointed out the problem of an unequal distribution causing problems amongst the siblings in my OP.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:51 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,018 posts, read 17,756,785 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imcurious View Post
I actually pointed out the problem of an unequal distribution causing problems amongst the siblings in my OP.
I didn't imply that you didn't. I wrote "as others have pointed out". "Others" can include the OP. In any thread, posters respond to other posters, in addition to responding directly to the OP. This is considered normal. The OP sets the topic and begins the conversation. Then the conversation continues, just like in a roomful of people. There are many aspects to "Wills - Ethical Question, Re: Splitting Assets", so there may be various twists and turns in the conversation, as a given poster may comment on one aspect, which then in turn may bring forth another related aspect, and so forth. Many people will give examples from their own experiences with wills and the splitting of assets, and people may comment on those experiences. The OP does not "direct" the conversation in the same manner that a school teacher would. I never feel like I "own" the threads I start. I start them with the idea that people will jump in and agree, disagree, partly agree, point out flaws in my facts and/or reasoning, give examples to support or rebut what I have said, support or rebut each other, come to conclusions different than mine, and so on and on. Everyone benefits from this wide-ranging exchange!
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:02 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,869,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Escort Rider View Post
I didn't imply that you didn't. I wrote "as others have pointed out". "Others" can include the OP. In any thread, posters respond to other posters, in addition to responding directly to the OP. This is considered normal. The OP sets the topic and begins the conversation. Then the conversation continues, just like in a roomful of people. There are many aspects to "Wills - Ethical Question, Re: Splitting Assets", so there may be various twists and turns in the conversation, as a given poster may comment on one aspect, which then in turn may bring forth another related aspect, and so forth. Many people will give examples from their own experiences with wills and the splitting of assets, and people may comment on those experiences. The OP does not "direct" the conversation in the same manner that a school teacher would. I never feel like I "own" the threads I start. I start them with the idea that people will jump in and agree, disagree, partly agree, point out flaws in my facts and/or reasoning, give examples to support or rebut what I have said, support or rebut each other, come to conclusions different than mine, and so on and on. Everyone benefits from this wide-ranging exchange!
Thank you for your counsel! (Note: The reason I pointed out that I had said it was because it was a key element of my concern and to me, relates to the "ethics" of the issue).

Last edited by imcurious; 08-11-2011 at 08:03 PM.. Reason: forgot something
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:14 PM
 
Location: SoCal desert
8,093 posts, read 13,245,924 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imcurious View Post
I guess my thinking is that if I make a suggestion or have an intent that the money be used for good . . .since it is a family legacy, it seems important to me to do that. Of course there will be no teeth in it, so if whomever wants to blow it, that's their karma, but I honestly don't see anything wrong with putting the wish out there.
So use it for good now.

Do your good thing now and don't leave a "legacy".
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:22 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,869,982 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalara View Post
So use it for good now.

Do your good thing now and don't leave a "legacy".
Who knows what will become of it?

I have a strong family ethic so in my mind, I want to set something up for the betterment of my family - I want to do something to strengthen the family unit . . .I guess I learned that from my Dad who talked a lot about "the estate." It just seems important somehow even though who knows what will really happen . . . It's kind of a fantasy scenario, I guess - some kind of a story that I like to think about . . .

As a postscript, I do hope when I die I am unable to see what my family is actually doing!!! Now that could be Hell!
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Old 08-12-2011, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley AZ
8,624 posts, read 9,696,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalara View Post
So use it for good now.

Do your good thing now and don't leave a "legacy".
I guess this is what my mom thinks SHE did but I don't see it that way. When my dad died he left her pretty well off. She had enough to live comfortably for the rest of her life and she blew it all. It was all placed in trust and I, for one, "trusted" that she would be okay. Well....she gave my younger brother thousands upon thousands of dollars to start two businesses, which failed miserably, made his house payments for a long time, made his truck payments until it finally got repossessed, bought my daughter a brand new car and bought my sister a mobile home. She said my brother would pay her back but he never has. He doesn't work all that steady and just got fired from another job recently. The reason my siblings don't like him is because my mom thinks the sun rises and sets on this brother, compares him to Dad ALL the time and WE know better. He, and his family, are ALL she talks about and it gets old. He's got her so bamboozled and it's irritating. He is the executor of her estate, which consists solely...now...of her home and car. She doesn't have a Will because she figures the Trust 'says it all'.

She has told me...and my brother, verbally...of things she wants given to me but I don't trust him any further than I can throw him. He will likely rent the house out and keep all the money. Or sell it and keep all the money. Mom told him that "my" house, that I live in now, is "mine" for as long as I want to live here and rent free, after she is gone. He won't honor that either. She has a large coin collection worth quite a bit but she won't cash it in for the money. Any time someone brings up something her stock answer is, "Yes, that goes to __________ when I'm gone".

She has quite a few 1 oz. gold coins, each worth about $1500 at this point. All of this is in the safe, the combination of which only my brother knows. I don't think he knows that I know what's in there and he won't 'tell'. She is also about $85,000 in credit card debt and doesn't much care. All this only bothers me as much as it does because my dad worked long and hard to make SURE she would be taken care of and not have to depend on her $600 mo. SS and her kids to survive. I cannot believe how much money she plowed through in a few short years. I DID tell her I hoped she spent it all before she went but I sure didn't think she'd do it the way she did! Plus all the credit card debt.

Anyway...all that to say that my siblings and I KNOW how it'll all go when Mom is gone and we all know that we'll do nothing to fight it. It is what it is. And this is the main reason my brothers don't get along. It won't change when she's gone either. I, for one, hope she stays around for a good long time to come. She's 84 and in great health so, maybe.... It just makes me sad that my other brother is so resentful he won't even come to see her. He DOES send her cards and flowers for Mother's Day and birthday but that's the extent of it. And SHE doesn't understand why he feels the way he does. I do! Anytime you make your kids feel like "chopped liver" compared to another one it just never bodes well.
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Old 08-12-2011, 04:34 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,869,982 times
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Good points.

Even though your dad left a trust, doesn't your mom also have a will? It seems like the trust and will should indicate who will get what when your mom passes on . . .It shouldn't just be guesswork at this stage . . . she should write it down and have it witnessed and notarized if she has not done that already . . .
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:11 PM
 
Location: SoCal desert
8,093 posts, read 13,245,924 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZDesertBrat View Post
(snipped)
He is the executor of her estate, which consists solely...now...of her home and car. She doesn't have a Will because she figures the Trust 'says it all'.
(snipped)
She is also about $85,000 in credit card debt and doesn't much care.
(snipped)
Eeek. It's too bad you can't get it in writing about your guest house.

As executor, he'll be responsible to pay off any estate debts. Depending on the economy, the house and car may just pay the debts. Plus, if there's no will ... he'll have to suffer through probate.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:07 PM
 
Location: Toronto, Ottawa Valley & Dunedin FL
1,409 posts, read 2,357,011 times
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I agree that legislating from the grave is fruitless. My mother wanted her estate divided equally between my brother and I, but she wanted me to have her home (an upgrade summer cottage.) So she left the cottage to me, and the cash to him. But as time went on that cash was depleted. She died before signing a new will, which would have been more equitable. I knew what her wishes were, so I paid out my brother the balance in cash, and I'm still glad I did.

As for my husband and I, luckily or unluckily, we have only one son, and he gets it all--if there's anything left for him when we go. No strings, never have been.
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Old 08-12-2011, 10:20 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,425,030 times
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My husband's grandfather was very wealthy - he bought Coca-Cola shares at 38 cents a share. He had two daughters and one son. The son went to college, started a liquor store, and then had a chain of them; never had kids, was wealthy in his own right. He also rarely spoke to his father. The daughters - one (my husband's mother) used to go to her father every two weeks with her bank book and expect him to pay the difference. The other daughter worked, married, raised 8 kids, and worked her way up to corporate levels - but when her father had strokes, she was at his side, getting him into the best round-the-clock care available, her kids would go over and roof his house, clean it, take care of it. When the man died, he left everything to the daughter who had taken care of him. My husband's mother was furious. How DARE he? Well, he did dare, and he had the perfect right to. He rewarded hard work and effort, and had no use for beggars and drones, didn't feel that they should be rewarded. His life, his money, his attitude. Did it cause bad blood? No. The bad blood was always there since the girls were teens; one industrious and hardworking, the other dependent, whiny, and lazy. (My husband didn't take a single page out of her book; he had her example before him, and learned from it rather than making the same mistakes.)

Zoom to present - DH and I worked 2 + 3 jobs most of our lives. We raised 3 kids and took in foster children. We were very frugal and saved up for what we wanted, always paid our bills on time, and raised our children to work and educate themselves. We drove old cars and had a tiny house for years. Now, because of our hard efforts, we have a lovely home, property, and are quite comfortable. We have 2 sons and a daughter. One son joined the USAF, came out, worked his way up, got married, and is comfortable in his own right, his supervisory job, his home. He tells us he neither needs or wants our property or inheritance; everything he has gotten he has earned. Our other son - honestly and sincerely believes that we still owe him a living. (He just turned 30.) He received a 4-year, fully-paid scholarship to a college, to study his life's dream - and three months later was working in a convenience store, sneering at those college idiots. Because we do not - will not - support him, he travels from pillar to post, always expecting someone else to pay his bills. Our daughter worked hard, had no scholarships, but got grants and loans and worked two jobs to put herself thru college. When she graduated, she paid her bills, including her loans, starting at the bottom of her profession and working her way to the top, where she now makes 6 figures and is happy and comfortable.

We know perfectly well that Son #2 would get his hands on any and everything he could, sell it, and go thru the money like a wildfire, and be angry that there wasn't more. Son #1 does not care for anything we have - except some antiques that have been passed down in the family. Our daughter loves our property, loves the house, and wants to live here when she retires - but not yet; she is having too much fun being a young adult and stretching her wings. Should she inherit, she would take care of, even expand on what we've done - it's in her nature. She actually took our old house over, rented it from us, fixed it up, and sold it for a good profit for us. She says she "owes" us for raising her right and loving her. We don't feel that way, but still...

We would not presume to leave our property and possessions to anyone, and try to imply or insist how they should take care of them after we die. But we already know perfectly well what would happen. Neither son appreciates or wants the property we have, and would vote to sell it. Our daughter is the only one who not only appreciates it for not only its monetary value, but its intrinsic worth, and has invested her time and money into it; coming out to work it and take care of it. She is this year insisting on buying us another well for it!

For our #1 son, he gets what he most desires - the family antiques that have been in the family for generations, because he would care for them. For our daughter, who has struggled to make something of herself and never stops working, she gets the property and the money to care for it.

For #2 son, nothing.

No, this won't cause 'bad blood' between the adult children - because it is already there; #1 Son and Daughter have turned #2 son away from demanding at their doorsteps for years, and they have no use for him - or he for them. Nothing we could give him would satisfy him; not even if we gave him every dollar, every antique, every foot of land, every inch of brick and clapboard. Nothing we gave him would go for anything but his own immediate desires, and he would still be angry because we did not give him more. Unlike his brother and sister, he feels we 'owe' it to him.

We believe and tried to raise our children that life isn't fair, and that they must make their own way in and mark on the world, that rewards don't magically appear just because they are smart, talented, funny, fun at parties, or cute. Two of them know this, one never will. Why should we reward the latter behavior, when it will not change either his opinion nor his attitude? Do we really care what someone - anyone, even a relative - thinks, feels, or says about us after we are dead? We are dead, after all, their opinion doesn't matter, and a bequest, no matter how big or how small, won't change their attitude, what they believe, or how they live.

BTW, if all of our kids had turned out to be spendthrifts, lazy, drug addicts, or n'er-do-wells, we would probably specify that everything be sold, and leave the money to an animal shelter, the Salvation Army, or have the property be designated as a home for abandoned horses or such like.

Last edited by SCGranny; 08-12-2011 at 10:31 PM..
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