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Why wait until you're dead to give the children their inheritance?

Change is good. Throughout my life there have been big changes that always turned out to be good. Fifteen years ago, I met Darling Husband and monumental changes occurred. Like living in Switzerland for six months every year.

Recent changes have been a little harder to define as "good." Getting old, one has to face up to the realities of diminishing physical capacity. The good thing about getting old is that it's better than the alternative.

We can't live in Switzerland in the summer anymore, but we didn't look forward to going back to our adorable house in a lakeside village in southern Switzerland for the sole purpose of moving out of it … forever.

But it had to be done.

That's when Darling Husband came up with a brilliant idea: Delegate the job to our children.

We have two grown daughters each and they will inherit all our stuff someday. My husband has the accumulated memorabilia from his parents' house in our Switzerland house. We're talking things such as sets of Victorian china, tea sets, books, paintings, commemorative plaques, childhood toys, you name it. I, too, accumulated a lot of stuff over the past 15 years and a lot of clothes I'm not ready to part with yet.

My husband suggested we each send one of our daughters — letting each pair decide who goes — to our house in Switzerland to deal with the contents and select what they want and deem worth the freight charge. We'd pay the expenses and I'd have them send the stuff I want to me, too.

Usually, clearing out a house becomes a grim post-funeral task for surviving offspring. Why do that?

Our daughters have never met their counterparts in spite of some efforts to round them all up for a stepsisters gathering. Schedules just never seem to coincide for busy women with families of their own.

When we contacted the four of them, some of the responses were surprising. "You mean you're never going back?" from one daughter, sounding a little tearful. "You mean without you?" incredulously from another.

Right. We aren't going back … at all. We are too old.

If they thought about it, I'm sure they expected us to just keep on until we dropped. But they rallied to the cause and decided that the two oldest would make the journey. They went in late November.

My daughter, Bronwyn, who lives in Minnesota, and my husband's daughter, Alfa, who lives in California, met in Switzerland — which, by the way, is where Alfa was born.

They had never met previously except on Facebook. They spent three intense days involving much four-way communication (thanks to the wonders of modern technology) with their sisters who didn't go — my daughter, Wendy, who lives in Montana, and his daughter, Marina, who lives in New Jersey.

It must have been like an online auction with the words, "Do you want this?" accompanied by a photo flying across the Internet to computer screens in Montana and New Jersey. I got some late night and early morning calls, too

They got it all done and had a really good time together. The two oldest, at least, have fond memories of a shared sisterly experience. They won't meet as total strangers at a future funeral. All four of them feel a bond now and it's not all tied up with sadness and loss.

See? Change is good!

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Why wait until you're dead to give the children their inheritance? 01/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 5:45pm]
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