If you raised more than one child, you know that one job of a parent is being a referee. Sibling spats are normal, common and usually soon forgotten. As a parent, you help resolve these disputes so that you can see all your children grow up to become best friends with each other, have your grandchildren know the joys of having cousins, and simply enjoy family parties and celebrations.
But sometimes, those childish spats leave scars that are easily aggravated in tough times. The death of a parent can bring out the best or worst in a family. Old spats can be relived, with some children wanting a seemingly insignificant possession, not because it meant something to them, but simply because they did not want their brother or sister to have it. That can be sad for a family, but even though you are not physically around, you can still act as a referee.
After my wife’s and my attorney prepared our will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, trusts and other documents, he instructed us to write a letter letting our children know what of the small personal possessions we wanted each of them to have. It’s not legally binding, and the kids can make changes if they agree, but it gives a starting point for dividing our possessions. It may prevent a dispute or some hurt feelings.