There seems to be more families with one child who is estranged from the parent. In most cases the parent says to me “ I love all my children” In most cases they also want to treat them equally with those children they have a loving relationship. They are hopeful the children will get along after the parent is gone. Of course, in some cases, this creates conflict with the children who are doing everything and wondering why the child who does nothing benefits.
Sometimes the parent continually tries to reach out only to have the child hang up on them or tell them they are not welcome. Often times if there are grandchildren they are prevented from seeing or talking with the grandchildren and only know about them from their other children. The hurt is tremendous. In some cases they don’t even know the reason any longer.
There are also times when the parent is adamant about not including a child due to some real or perceived wrong that only festers over the years creating long periods of estrangement.
Part of the estate planning discussion for seniors should involve a conversation about reconciliation. This is easier when the fracture is because the parent is the one putting up the barriers. However, a lasting gift to the family can be forgiving past wrongs so that after the parents are gone the children have the possibility of harmonious relationships. How can the past be left in the past without pointing fingers at who was right or created the wrong? Consider this; everyone wants to know they were loved. Both the parent and the child want to know they were wanted and are an important part of the others world.
A conversation with the attorney may start the healing process. Why? Because the estate plan is a family plan designed to protect and preserve family relationships as much as it is to protect and provide for the seniors financial needs and quality of life. Often a meeting with a professional family mediator can also help. For some the mediator may be guidance from their priest, minister, rabbi or other religious leader.