I’ve Finished Work on My Mom and Stepdad’s Estates
We’re nearing the 9 year anniversary of my mom’s death. As regular readers know, her death in 2015 threw my life into chaos because she had a complicated estate to resolve: 15 real estate properties, her publishing business, my stepdad who was living in an assisted living facility, and more. My sister, brother-in-law, and I moved my stepdad closer to us, sold the properties and the business, filed lots of tax returns, and cleaned up my mom’s papers and affairs. We finished this work in about 18 months. Following that, the remaining manifestations of my mom’s estate were only a trust bank account and some boxes of papers we stored in case of tax authority entanglements.
We then handled my stepdad’s affairs when he died in 2020. This process was much less time-consuming in part because we had taken care of most pieces while resolving my mom’s affairs.
Recently, we filed the final tax returns and closed the remaining bank accounts for my mom and stepdad’s estates. I sorted the remaining boxes of financial paperwork we had stored and then took the papers to the shredder. As a result, their estates are now “complete”; they have no physical or virtual items left in the estates and no tasks left to do.
Disposing of the remaining paperwork was emotionally draining. It reminded me of a difficult and stressful period of my life. Also, sorting thousands of papers that now have no importance reminded me how many of the daily tasks we do, and decisions we make, are inconsequential in the long run. On the plus side, our garage is a little tidier, something that makes my wife happy.
More generally, it marks a transition point for my relationship with my parents’ generation. I’ve closed the chapter on their financial and legal affairs, I hope permanently. From here on out, the financial and legal affairs I’ll work on will be my generation’s and those of my descendants. There is nothing more I can do to help the generations preceding me–other than honoring their memory, which remains a lifelong project.
A reminder of gifts you can give TODAY to the ones you love:
- adopt a healthcare directive so your loved ones will know your preferences if you can’t speak for yourself
- properly execute a will and a trust and *put all of your assets in the trust*
- clean out your paper archives to make the burden easier for your loved ones, especially if there’s anything you don’t want as part of your legacy
- tell the people who are important to you how you feel and why, because you never know when it’s your last time doing so