The Griffin Firm enjoys giving presentations in churches regularly. In that forum we share that one of the scriptures that we stand on is 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order. (KJV) This is a strong statement that we have a responsibility to be thoughtful in what we do and how we do it. The standard of all things is pretty profound. People often reference estate planning as “getting their affairs in order.” As an estate planning and probate attorney, I have the opportunity to see the impact on families after the passing of a loved one.
Truly when a loved one passes there is grief. Grief is an incredibly strong emotion. Grief can immobilize a person. One of the stages of grief is anger. Anger can be directed in many different ways that may not be anticipated, especially depending on the cause of death. This emotion to can impact our behavior.
We know that there is no way to avoid the emotional pain of losing a loved one. We know that as long as we are loved there will be an emotional distress. To transition in Decency and In Order we must create the plan that includes directions for distributions of assets and the appointment of those people who will manage the process.
As a society where there are many blended or estranged family members, it is vital for us to outline the plan that builds up the family. Unfortunately, I have experienced ugly circumstances where a second wife denies the children resulting in litigation. I have experienced where a parent had secured 3 homes during her life time intending to give each child one, but she passed away prior to completing the transfer of the two final homes. The child who had received his home demanded a third of each of the other two homes. I have had the burden of trying to locate extended members of a family to distribute assets although they never knew the family member who passed away because there were no children to inherit. I have seen children in blended families become, in essence, disinherited because of the order of death of the married couple. People call our office to give information to siblings because they refuse to speak to one another.
This is not decency or order. We encourage people to seek to be peacemakers. Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9). I encourage each of us to be peacemakers when leaving their loved ones with this gift of decency and order. We have also had the opportunity to sit with families after the passing of a loved one and they report on the peaceful transition of wealth. We are thankful to facilitate this transition. In estate planning it is vital to be honest about the capacity and the character of the people in your circle.
Most of us seek for our legacy to be that our family, community and the world is better because we were here. All of that can be diminished because we didn’t get our affairs in order. We remember Prince as an amazing artist. We also remember the debacle that ensued after he passed away. Let’s do everything in decency and good order to build a legacy that strengthens.