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Spring Cleaning… Your Parents’ Attic

Legal Matters

      

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Visiting your mother for Mother’s Day in May or your dad for Father’s Day in June? Consider a small spring-cleaning project in any attics, she-sheds, barns, or storage units. One lady in her seventies measures her progress by the trunk loads she takes to thrift stores. Be sure to suggest items that other siblings or grandchildren could use, and you will not come across as the greedy one. Masking tape makes great labels.

List the items and their locations and ask your parents to share their plans with the beneficiaries. These bequests do not have to be in their wills. In fact, your parents may get more pleasure by giving these items now rather than waiting for a will to be read. If they agree, update the inventory when items are given. Items could be valuable such as collectible paintings, woodturning tools, and jewelry, or nostalgic such as a grandmother’s very antique flour sifter, well-worn quilts, or notated Bibles. Your parents may enjoy an afternoon talking about the items in detail. 

Executors of wills and trusts have a lot of responsibility such as making interim and final estate reports back to the Probate Court. Make executors’ lives easier by giving personal items to recipients early or by creating a separate document with the details of who gets what. One elderly lady with ten grown children made a copy of her will for each child and wrote on the back what that child was to receive from her personal effects even down to the refrigerator. There is an old saying that you do not know a person’s character until you have divided an estate with him. Estate distributions often trigger family arguments, long-term grudges, and will disputes. A well-used lawnmower triggered a will dispute in one family. That may sound ridiculous, but when grief, high emotions, and childhood grievances are involved, logic often goes out the window. We strongly recommend that our clients share their estate plans with their beneficiaries while they are here to address any questions or concerns. The same goes for personal effects.

Take a shot at spring cleaning yourself so you can be an example to your parents. And keep your estate plan current with regular reviews with your estate planning attorney. You will all have a sense of lightness to go with the lengthening days.

Legal Matters bradford Holliman head shot Melanie Bradford 07 cropped print-Melanie B. Holliman, JD 

Partner at Bradford & Holliman, LLC

www.bradfordholliman.com

205-663-0281

No representation is made that the quality of the legal service to be performed is greater than the quality of service performed by other lawyers.

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