Is there life after death? To whom do we leave our money and possessions when we die? How will it be received? Who gets what? Who gets left out and what is fair?

My own personal experience took place more than 45 years ago. My father who was turning 80, was about to undergo prostate surgery and decided to leave a will. He had four children and eleven grandchildren. Seven were with one favorite daughter. It was not a great sum of money, however, he wished to leave it to the eleven grandchildren evenly. My wife was upset at this plan. She was having difficulty getting pregnant and felt it unfair to me to exclude me in this fashion……….

At first I did not have a great reaction, however, when I thought about it, I called my sister and said “you cannot leave a will that is hard to live with. That creates divisions and ill will. Two days later she called with a solution: One thousand dollars would be given to each grandchild and the balance divided among the four siblings.

It made perfect sense to me. The surgery went well and he passed away some years later. I never spent the sum, but put it away for my daughter. The close family ties, three generations remains connected to this day. We know there are internal conflicts within families. The bible is full of such stories,e.g., The dream of Joseph and The Coat of Many Colors that drove his brothers to sell him into slavery and the Story of Jacob and Essau. Are these conflicts resolvable? I believe they are, but not usually on their own. These conflicts can make for great theater. We know that by nature that man is not perfect. Just read Shakespeare and you will know that man is driven by jealousy, envy and rage with tragic consequences if not resolved.

Dr. Jerome Leff

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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