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Am I Entitled to Any of My Parent’s Estate?

Couple-daylight-elderly-1589865In Pennsylvania, children do not have any legal right to inherit from their parents in their parents’ Wills. Only a spouse has such a legal right.

In other words, even if a person were to specifically disinherit his or her spouse, the spouse could still make a claim, called a spousal election, against the estate, and would then be entitled to a percentage of the estate.

However, children have no such protection. A parent can disinherit a child by so stating in his or her Will, but the parent doesn’t even have to do that. By simply not mentioning a child in his or her Will, the parent has effectively disinherited that child.

Because children do not have any right of inheritance, then they only inherit by being named in the Will, either specifically by name, or as a class, such as “my children”.

This is the rule for inheritance in a Will, which is very different from the rules of inheritance when there is no Will. If a person dies without a valid Will, he or she has died intestate. In that case, each state has rules for who will inherit, and in what order.

In that case, in Pennsylvania, children fare much better. If the deceased person was married with children when he or she died without a Will, then both the spouse and the children will share in the estate.

The percentage for each is based on whether the decedent’s children are also children of the surviving spouse, or whether they are that spouse’s step-children. If the decedent was not married at the time of his or her death, better news yet for his or her children – they inherit equally among them all of his or her estate!

To be clear, we strongly believe that it is never a good idea for a person to have no Will at his or her death, and if a parent wants to disinherit one or more of his or her children, we have a frank conversation to assure that the parent understands the implications of his or her decision, and we strongly suggest that he or she specifically set out the disinheritance in the Will, so there is no confusion about the intent. 

Although there are oh so many, many more important reasons to do so, this certainly is a reason to be nice to your parents!  To get started on your estate planning, join us for one of our upcoming workshops.  Just click here to RSVP.

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A Legacy is More Than Money

Black-and-white-black-and-white-classic-1989747Four years ago, just as I started with Bellomo & Associates, my Grandma in Minnesota passed away. 

Although Jeff told me I could take the time to go to the funeral, I felt I could not afford the time, or the cost for last minute plane tickets, to go.  I knew she would have understood; funerals are for the living, not the dead. 

I still wanted to be a part of the day and to let everyone know what a very special person she was to me, so I share with you a portion of my Eulogy.

“You have all gathered here today to celebrate the life of Mary Murphy, my Grandma.  Although I could not be here, l would like to share with you some of the memories of the Mary Murphy I knew and love.

“After we moved out east, I spent many summers on the farm with Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandma was not known for her cooking. Her cooking was purely utilitarian, but there was one thing that she made that brings back memories of good times and wonderful aromas.  Baked bread! As children, she gave us our own piece of dough to shape into whatever we liked, bake and enjoy. As we got older, we weren’t so interested in the process as we were the product.  When the smell of hot bread wafted out the doors we came running! Grandma let us cut the hot crusty loaf, slather it in butter and eat the whole thing if we wanted to.

“The sound of a piano playing was also a common event at Grandma’s house.  We would beg her to play and tip toe to see her fingers touch the keys and dance around the living room to every song.  Later, my own children did the same. What is most amazing to me is that she never learned a note of music in her life.  She played by ear and only played the black keys, yet oh, the beautiful music she made!

“I remember going off to college and feeling very alone until I opened my mailbox to find a letter from Grandma, followed by a Halloween Card from Grandma, and many other letters and cards, missing not one holiday!  Her letters would be filled with every detail of every event she went to, right down to the ‘wonderful spice cake and ice cream’ they had for dessert. And every letter and card was signed with x’s and o’s, ‘Bushels of Love, Hugs and Kisses, Love, Grandma and Grandpa’, later to be just Grandma.  Every card and letter made me feel like she was right there giving me those hugs and kisses. Grandma never forgot you, no matter how many miles away you lived.  

“She also never forgot you in her prayers.  When Mary Murphy said she was going to pray for you, they were not just empty words, they were fact.  Religion was both a blessing and a curse for her. She believed strongly in prayer. She had a great faith in God, but not in that she herself was worthy of him.  Sadly, her biggest fear at the end was that she would not go to heaven. I’ve got news for you Grandma, if you didn’t, the rest of us are in real trouble!

“I could go on for hours about my Grandma.  I was blessed to have her for 50 years in my life.  I hope that I can be as wonderful a Grandma and leave my grandchildren the precious gift of the love she gave me.  

“I will miss you, Grandma.  XXX OOO With Bushels of Love, Hugs and Kisses, Missy.”

My Grandparents didn’t have a lot, but what they did have was love.  And THAT is the best legacy of all.  

Michelle Poole, Director of Community Outreach

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Simple Formula For Living

Beverage-blue-sky-blur-1804035How many of these suggestions do you practice? 

Imagine how much simpler – and better – life would be if all of us followed all of them every day. 

We each can start by making our own lives better by trying every day to follow as many as we can.

A Simple Formula For Living

Live beneath your means.

Return everything you borrow.

Stop blaming other people.

Admit it when you make a mistake.

Give unworn clothes to charity.

Do something nice and try not to get caught.

Listen more; talk less.

Every day take a 30-minute walk.

Strive for excellence, not perfection.

Be on time.  

Don’t make excuses.

Don’t argue. 

Get organized.

Be kind to unkind people.

Let someone cut ahead of you in line.

Take time to be alone.

Cultivate good manners.

Be humble.

Realize and accept that life isn’t fair.

Know when to keep your mouth shut.

Go an entire day without criticizing anyone.

Learn from the past. 

Plan for the future.

Live in the present.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

It’s all small stuff.