Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about inheritance. And by lately, I mean since 10:30 this morning, when my mom, step-dad, and I sat down to finalize my mother’s estate plans. Four hours, four lawyers, and fifty thousand signatures later, we’re still not done.
This might be expected if my mom were a bazillionaire—but my mom was a lawyer for the government for thirty years. Meaning that at first she made approximately nothing, then she made enough, then she did pretty okay.
If my mother knew I was writing about how much money she did or did not make, she would cut off my hands.
The point is, we’re not spending an absurd amount of money on an absurd number of lawyers for the massive amounts of cash my mom has socked away. (Not that I’m saying my mom isn’t frugal— oh my god I’m so paranoid she’s going to see this and be pissed. My mom, for the record, is super frugal. Just last summer I made her—and I mean made her— get rid of the outfit she wore to her twenty-fifth high school reunion dinner when I was twelve.)
No, the lawyering up is for a piece of lake property my mom inherited from her parents, who inherited it from my grandmother’s brother. It’s been in my family for fifty-two years. And if my mother has her way it will be in our family for fifty-two more. Centuries.
People have strong feelings about inheritance. Some think once you’re gone, everything should go to the government. Others think the government shouldn’t get a dime. Some think children should get everything. Others (like Warren Buffet) believe children should make it on their own and not inherit at all. (Although I’m sure his kids and grandkids are getting something. Right? I mean, aside from really great investment advice.)
In my case, it’s not about money. It’s about my family and our history. When I’m at the lake, I feel connected to the great uncle I never met. My grandparents come alive again. I’m eight and helping my mom nail shingles. I’m thirteen and painting the trim on the boathouse with my best friend. All of my best memories of my mother are there. Most of my best memories of myself are there.
One of the many reasons I want to have kids is to share those memories and make new ones. So, bring it on, lawyers. And make it quick. There’s a super-secret blueberry patch waiting for me. And for you, Kiddo, wherever you may be, and whenever you may get there.