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I am always disappointed when I discover that after the patriarch/matriach of the family dies that too often the family is plagued with many years of discord. A year after the will has been probated- the fighting begins with a vengeance with sons fighting their brothers/sisters and sisters- in-laws over the disposition of the assets.

It has been my sad experience that too often the sons seem to feel that they are entitled to make the decisions for their sisters. Not willing to do the accounting and fair division of family property sure divides the family. Cousins, nieces’ aunts’ and uncles’ designations are lost in the family fights.

Christmas/Thanksgiving celebrations are a thing of the past with the adult children ( I love the adult/children desigation) taking sides and instead of harmony: dissension rules .The sisters to receive their fair share of the estate often have to hire solicitors. The writs are processed with the court orders to force their brothers to divulge the true financial numbers.

It is an expensive difficult divisive journey into the legal quagmire; often taking many many years to resolve. The the sense of family/peace and harmony has been irrevocably-been- ripped apart never ever to be restored. The heirs go through a contested dispute mechanism with no one wanting to find a common ground to keep the family united.

I remember the case of "Helen" whose older brother sold their parent’s home in Toronto and did not share the seven figure tax- free -wind fall. Her lawyer warned her that if she went ahead with the lawsuit that: "Her brother would probably never ever talk to her again."

You would think that a sense of blood between the family is thicker then money but when it comes right down to it you learn the true values are shown after the will has been read.

I find it interesting that our Amish neighbours, on the Putnam Road, where we buy our eggs/vegetables have a sensible division of the farm when their parents are too old to farm.

Who do you think gets the ownership to the farm? If you guessed the oldest son, you are wrong. The youngest son inherits the family homestead along with the promise to provide for the life-long welfare of his parents.

To prevent your family falling into discord make sure that you have an up to date will drawn by a competent lawyer whom you trust to fulfill your wishes after you have passed on. My mother probably changed her mind many times to ensure that she did it right. She told me that: "it was her will and not my fathers."

Sad, that the raison d’etre for many people after the death of a parent focuses on the money. Love, harmony, respect for the family should be the values that we hold dear in our lives.

Len Lesser is an education/career counsellor in Dorchester, Ont.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com