I think about dying often now that I’m on the other side 60, the year my mother died. Since I’m one of these people who likes to get things done ahead of time, I want to clean out some clutter, decide who gets what, and see a lawyer to get our estate figured out.
I remember well how my parents’ lawyer told my brother and me that he had encouraged our father to get his things in order, but my dad didn’t. He died and left my brother and me with an estate in common, and a memory of my mother’s warning, “Don’t let your brother cheat you.”
My brother and I spent several horrible years trying to settle that estate. We fought over our parents’ things, which were more than just things because they carried their love. Once we’d settled the stuff, it took years to work through the hurt.
I have seen how easy it is to settle an estate when the legal work is done ahead of time. Bruce’s mother spelled out her wishes clearly. And I have seen the confusion and overwhelm when there is no will to be found.
Estate planning confronts us with decisions that are painful to make, wrapped up in mortality and who gets what, but what a gift to the people left to have the kind of clarity estate planning brings.
I’m Katie Andraski, and that’s my perspective.