Mental health notes: Who gets what

Many families have rich and poor members, meaning that many parents have kids who are struggling, and kids who are doing well.

So, when Ma and Pa make their will, it would make sense to leave a bigger slice of what’s left to the poor one. But that’s not how we do things.

We are into “fairness.” We equally divide our assets so each child will be given the same as the others.

Why? Search me! Probably because we think it will keep the kids from fighting or being angry at each other.

And there is nothing a parent wishes for more than to have their kids love each other after they are gone.

Is this reasonable? Will Marjorie, who has a successful law practice and spends her vacations in Europe appreciate the little inheritance? Or, might it be better to leave as much as possible to Melanie, who not only lost her job but also hasn’t been able to afford a decent car let alone an apartment in a safe neighborhood?

The two girls did not get along while the parents were alive and probably won’t get along later.

There are other considerations: For instance, Ma’s engagement ring — “Ma promised it to me whenever I got married.” or the set of fancy dishes — “I’ve always wanted those.”

Each child has special needs or talents. Paula had speech lessons for her lisp, Mike was sent to soccer camp because he was uncoordinated, and Mary was given expensive music lessons because she showed such talent early on!

So, after we’re gone, it’s only fair to treat each child according to his or her needs even though it might seem to be unfair. Easier said than done. (Ask any parent.)

 

Editor’s note: Hedi McKinley, CSW who lives in Altamont is a clinical social worker in Albany.

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