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Old 09-25-2011, 01:53 PM
 
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StealthRabbit...you did good
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Old 09-25-2011, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
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I agree with those who have said that in many cases, family discord can be avoided (or at least postponed until after one's death!) by not divulging information about who is getting what. Let's take the case of my mother. Although my sister and I inherited equally, there were a few other people among the many nieces and nephews who were named for a specific dollar amount. There was no point in telling the ones who were going to get something because if that information were discussed, then resentment could be created among those who were not getting anything. If it was discussed afterwards, well nothing to be done then.

In case one's children are not going to inherit equally, then the mine field is likely to be even more emotionally fraught. The resentful ones could distance themselves, causing pain all around. Or they could try to ingratiate themselves and apply pressure for a will change. Or the relationships of the siblings with each other could suffer. All those results are best avoided, or at least deferred until it's too late to do anything differently.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:39 PM
 
Location: Boca Raton, FL
5,176 posts, read 8,696,248 times
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Smile Wills and discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zarathu View Post
NO.... Let it be a surprise. As far as I'm concerned inheritance is not a "right", its something you earn. BTW, my wife thinks its a "right".
The part I think is sad is when it's a husband and wife, one passes away with everything going to the other but with explicit details as to what happens if both pass and the surviving spouse remarries (or whatever) and then it's all changed.

It's like the wishes of the first deceased spouse are just not taken into account and that's sad.
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Old 09-25-2011, 11:08 PM
 
Location: Florida Gulf Coast
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Quote:
The part I think is sad is when it's a husband and wife, one passes away with everything going to the other but with explicit details as to what happens if both pass and the surviving spouse remarries (or whatever) and then it's all changed.

It's like the wishes of the first deceased spouse are just not taken into account and that's sad.
This happened to my friend. Her mother had been married to her stepfather for maybe 15 years or so. The mother died without ever specifying in her will what should go to her daughter or grandchildren (not sure if she actually had a will). In any event, she trusted that the stepfather would take care of them. Well, guess what -- the stepfather started dating a co-worker of the mother's and eventually married her. My friend is pretty sure she and her children will never see a penny of whatever her mother had (her parents' home, 401K) at the time she died. The mother would be rolling over in her grave if she knew this.

As for me, I asked a cousin to be my Executor, then had a fight with her and we stopped speaking. Had to pay $400 to get the will changed. I wouldn't tell anyone what they were getting, for fear of something coming up like this. I also like the "surprise" aspect of it, especially if you leave something or even a memento to someone who's not expecting it.
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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I have 3 siblings and only my sister and I know what's in our parent's will. My one brother was (well...IS) a screw-up and has done numerous things that have required our parents to bail him out of trouble many times. They don't approve of quite a few things he's done so he is inheriting less than the rest of us. My other brother simply doesn't care as he's quite successful and has never been interested in it.

I'm POA for our father and my sister is POA for our mother. We're also the executors. My parents usually update their wills with current real estate holdings, stocks, portfolios, etc etc every 5 years or so.

But for the past many years, ALL of us kids have been getting "allowances" from them every year (land rent mostly). They think it's better to start giving it away now so we don't have huge capital gains to pay when they eventually pass (hopefully 30+ years yet, knock on wood).

Over a year ago I purchased the current home they owned in Scottsdale (I was living in a townhouse) and they gave me a very STEEP discount which caused a bit of a ripple in the family (because of the discount, my brothers felt I should get less when they die, they saw it as an unfair early inheritance). Well my parents saw it as being unfair as well and ended up giving a very sizable check to my 3 siblings to make up for the difference (it wasn't as big as my discount though .

I feel it's best to let your kids know but that's just me.
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Old 09-26-2011, 07:05 PM
 
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What if you get re-incarnated?
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Old 09-26-2011, 08:07 PM
 
Location: SW MO
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Old 09-27-2011, 08:50 AM
 
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As a single person (husband died many years ago) with no children, no siblings, I asked my best friend if she'd be my executor. She knows where the copies are, and promises to abide by my wishes. "Who gets what" is spelled out in a list that is part of the will and trust. She has not seen the paperwork, and hasn't asked to.

Some first cousins will probably be surprised that dear friends and charities are getting the bulk of my estate, which, not to brag, is pretty substantial. Some cousins are getting certain sums; some get nothing. Oh well. You've ignored me for 60-plus years, don't be shocked. Yeah, I'm a mean old lady. Tough noogies.

edited to add: So you don't think I'm a total scrooge/meanie, for many years I sent cards and gifts for Christmas, weddings, christenings, showers, etc. to the (excluded from my estate) cousins and their offspring. In return I received total non-acknowledgement. No reciprocation, no thank yous, no invitations to anything not requiring a gift. A few years ago, I realized they weren't interested in any kind of relationship with me, so I stopped.

Last edited by jsqueezer; 09-27-2011 at 09:38 AM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 09-27-2011, 03:17 PM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by younglisa7 View Post
I think it depends on your situation......and situations can change. Things can be very complicated for those left behind. I think it is a good idea to prepare your executor. Not everyone else needs the details but the executor should have a heads up.

My biggest worry is my stepdaughter will sell things at a yard or estate sale and get a quarter of what things are worth. My husband and I have started a list for her of things like farm equipment, baseball cards, jewelry, etc. and their "current" value. Hopefully the list will help her to think about checking prices before she sells


My stepdaughter knows she is the executer of our wills and we have tried to organize things for her. She will be left in good shape but it will be a complicated time for her. We are trying to make it so the transaction of things go smoothly. She will have to make decisions about real estate and our stuff. I just hope she doesn't "give" it all away...even though it will be hers
If your stepdaughter doesn't have a lot of financial sense - perhaps someone else should be your personal representative? Robyn
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Old 09-27-2011, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,932,507 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
You should look into a revocable living trust, especially if you have a large estate. We did just that and a copy of it, along with the included will, is locked in 2 places, one with the lawyer who drew it up and another in a safe deposit box. An excecutor has been named to access the information upon our death.
This saves a lot of time, grief, problems, troubles. It expresses our desires, bye passes the courts, saves on inheritance tax and simply expedites everything at the due time.
A lot of not so great/bad legal info in this thread - including some in this message.

A revocable living trust does not take the place of a valid will (or beneficiary designations on things like IRAs - you have to be careful about those because they can override provisions in wills).

A revocable living trust does not avoid inheritance taxes (or estate taxes - which are different than inheritance taxes). If any are owed (either at the federal or state level).

A revocable living trust does not necessarily avoid the need for going through probate. For example - the probate process is a way to cut off claims against an estate. You give notice to any potential creditors - they have X days to make claims - and - if they don't - any claims they have but don't make are extinguished. If you don't go through this process - creditors can file claims years after someone dies.

A revocable living trust does not override state laws concerning - for example - the right of a surviving spouse to recover at least % of an estate.

Also - probate is not necessarily a big deal. It certainly isn't in Florida. Where the filing fees are rather minimal. And the fees for personal representatives and attorneys can be negotiated on a flat fee or hourly basis (as opposed to a standardized statutory %).

One should always tell a proposed personal representative that you want him or her to serve. Because he or she may not want to serve. Or may not be eligible to serve (e.g., if you're a Florida resident - your best friend who lives in Georgia can't serve as a personal representative). Or may not want to serve without compensation (that is common in a will - to ask the PR to serve without compensation - but many people wouldn't want to do that).

And the personal representative should know about important things before you die. Like where your important documents are located - how to get them - etc. If your personal representative doesn't have a copy of your will - and doesn't know who your lawyer is (or the lawyer who was supposed to have your will dies 10 years before you do - and no one has any idea what happened to your stuff) - and your will is in a safe deposit box - and the PR doesn't have a key to it - well how does the PR even get started? If our case - we have originals of our wills in our house and in our safe deposit box - our PR has a key to our house - and he knows exactly where the will is (as well as where almost everything important is - I send him a memo every couple of years updating things).

FWIW - the same rules apply to other important legal documents like health care powers of attorney. Your health care POAs should know who they are - and have originals of the documents they might need one day.

BTW - in Florida - one can have a list disposing of personal property in a will which can be updated without the need to redo the whole will or going through the formalities of a new will or a codicil to a will. Just has to be signed and dated (you shred the old list and write a new one). For just about any other changes - you have to go through the formalities (although we do have something called self-authenticating wills - you need a notary and 2 witnesses - but once you write a proper self-authenticating will or codicil - you're basically good to go). Note that our lawyer - who I think is pretty good - takes videos these days when his older clients (whose competence might be questioned) execute new wills or codicils to existing wills. There's nothing like a video to show that a client knows what he or she is doing when executing a will (assuming the client has his or her marbles).

Anyway - this is a lot of Florida specific stuff. I am sure that there are as many proper ways of doing estate stuff as there are states. And don't think that you don't have to worry about this stuff if you don't have much money. Many people who most need wills are younger people with minor children. There is nothing as ugly as a child custody fight after both parents have died in an auto accident and relatives are fighting about child custody so they can get their hands on any money recovered in a death case.

Finally - I don't see any need to share the specifics of one's will with any beneficiaries for the most part. Because they tend to change over time for one reason or another. The only beneficiary who knows about anything in our will is one large charitable beneficiary (and that charitable beneficiary has changed twice over the last 30 years). Robyn
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