By all accounts, Robin Williams had his estate plan zipped-up. He had a will and trust and even named professional trustees, so why is the family at odds over things after his death?
Grief impacts everyone very differently. As a suicide, it’s not just sudden but the nature of the death can complicate the grieving process. As caregivers, we know that many of these family issues surface well before a death.
From the latest reports, there is disagreement about how items are defined. A colleague of mine who is a professional appraiser has shared how contentious items with personal meaning but little value can wreak on a family. She commented that it’s interesting that so many parents who raised kids that argued over the last cookie expect their adult children to behave any better when it comes to settling their estate.
It seems Robin Williams put immense thought into his plan, but it sounds like there is some ambiguity and now both his wife and children who are still grieving are arguing over his things.
What Robin Williams Can Teach Us: It’s not enough to create the perfect estate plan. You have to tell those people who are impacted about your plan. Make it a part of normal conversations and allow your loved ones to ask questions and understand your wishes. You might not be around to appreciate it, but they will. And for those of caring for loved ones with dementia, we know that someone may have to make many decisions for us and our assets well before a death.
Robin was known for his improvisational skills. As caregivers, we are required to improvise–and approaching each interaction with humor is a handy tool on this journey. Reminded.