Mary Ann Van Osdell, Foster, Terry L.
News Release Distributed 03/01/10
BOSSIER CITY, La. – Making decisions and managing conflict before your death is the best gift you can give to your family – and it makes sure your wishes are carried out, said LSU AgCenter agent Terry Foster.
Key factors influence the transfer of moveable property to reduce conflict Foster said in a talk titled “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” at the AgCenter’s Red River Research Station Feb. 25.
“Do you know what your pie plates are? Every family has a pie plate,” she said, explaining a “pie plate” represents stuff or treasures. She said hers were her mother’s Bible and thimble.
Fulfilling last wishes and distributing personal possessions are five times more likely to be a source of family conflict during legacy than the distribution of finances. “Objects help preserve memories, family history and family rituals,” Foster said.
Foster said people must recognize the sensitivity of denying mortality. Three things are certainties: taxes, coming into this world with nothing and leaving possessions behind when dying. “It is a fact,” she said.
You never really know someone until you share an inheritance, Foster said. Discussions can prevent nightmares, celebrate a person’s life and provide meaningful continuity across generations.
Share stories about items before your death, Foster advised. “Give a history of the item and where it came from.”
Determine who needs to be in on the discussions, Foster said. Your children’s spouses? Grandchildren?
Discuss the definition of fair because people have different perceptions. “Does equal mean the number of items or value of items?” Foster said.
Assuming causes misunderstanding and inaccuracy, she said.
For instance, do children get back gifts they have given to their parents? That should not be assumed. Nor does being the oldest or the baby of the family, Foster said.
She suggested keeping a list of who gives what items each Christmas.
Putting masking tape with your name on an item doesn’t necessarily claim it either, nor does who gets there first, Foster said.
She cautioned givers that they could be dismayed and hurt by responses from intended recipients. These may include: “I don’t have room for anything, mother.” “It’s just not something I would use.”
Clinton Bowers, a family-law attorney, discussed immovable property (land, buildings, timber). Immovable property requires a written act, he said. “If there is no will, the state decides where property goes after you die.”
Mary Ann Van Osdell
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture