Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 18, 2011 / 14 Nissan, 5771

Pain and legacies

By Alan Douglas




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | True story. In Washington, DC there is a model of the USS Spence, a destroyer that capsized and sank in a typhoon during World War II. A few of the deck hands were rescued, but all the crew members below decks died. One of those sailors lost on the USS Spence was a young sailor who had quickly married his sweetheart before shipping out. The couple only lived together for 17 days before he went off to serve his country. The couple's families did not get along before the wedding, and afterwards the families didn't even speak to each other. In his haste to marry, the sailor did not have time to change the beneficiary on his life insurance from his father to his new bride. When the sailor was lost at sea the insurance proceeds went to the sailor's father, not the now pregnant, widow. The father kept the money, ignoring the needs of the widow and his grandchild. Legally, he was the named beneficiary and entitled to the money.

Another true story. After the death of his mother, a stepson found himself estranged from his stepfather. Not an unusual situation, but still painful. Many years later the stepson went to his synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and was so inspired by the rabbi's sermon on forgiveness that he wrote a letter asking his stepfather to meet with him to reconcile. In the spirit of the holiday, and touched by the stepson's gesture, the stepfather sent back a note agreeing to meet so they could reconcile. The stepfather died a few hours after he mailed the note.

When informed of his stepfather's death the stepson volunteered to handle any funeral arrangements, etc. But when the lawyer read the stepfather's will, which was written before the exchange of letters, it spoke of the stepfather's "great animosity" toward the stepson and expressly prohibited the stepson and his wife from attending his funeral. The will also left money to other family members, but intentionally ignored the stepson. The other family members were named in the will as beneficiaries and legally entitled to keep the money. They kept all the money. The stepfather's actions were intended to insult and isolate his stepson when they were feuding. Adding insult to injury, the stepson was asked to arrange his stepfather's funeral. He undertook the thankless task, yet was still prohibited from attending the funeral.



FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


These two incidents remind us that the legacy we leave behind can be the source of much pain and turmoil. We can cause our families to feud and disintegrate after we are gone. It also spotlights how accepting what is legally ours, and what may comply with the deceased wishes, can also destroy relationships. It can strain relationships and burden lives. In the two examples I gave that was certainly the case. The son of the deceased sailor grew up without a father and lost contact with his extended paternal family. The stepson's feelings toward family members who accepted his stepfather's tainted bequest, were never the same.

Life isn't fair and neither are feuds. But inequity, like hard times brings out the best in some people. In the two true stories I just told you, the "sailor's son" and "the stepson" are the same person.

Don't delude yourself thinking that you can make peace from the grave. Kind words in a will rarely make people feel better when they were never spoken in life. Many of you, knowing full well that you can create all kinds of trouble and arguments will use your will to get in a last shot. People skilled at being snipers; get their last licks even after they have died. And evening the score is a lousy rationalization. The appearance of being evenhanded and fair in a will while intentionally creating mischief fools no one.

As a practicing attorney, when I was drafting wills and dealing with estates after clients died, I learned enough about family dynamics to keep me up many nights. Gary Larsen had a Far Side Cartoon of an almost empty auditorium, with a banner that proclaimed, "Normal Families - Annual Convention." Someday I intend to make my fortune selling tee shirts for family reunions that say, "Families - so many feuds, so little time." In next week's column, I'll cover the ground rules.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

JWR contributor Alan Douglas, an author, media executive, speaker, and attorney, lives con brio- except when he is grumpy.


Previously:

Being in the No
The Sixth Sense
Dogs in Danger
Facebook, LinkedIn and the Zuckerberg Exit
Simon Bolivar Would Tell Glenn Beck to, ‘Put A Sock In It’
Children and Grandchildren
Swearing, Shoes, and Mark Twain
How my poor man's Porsche, Virgil, prepared me for life
Leases and Landing Gear
The Oscars, Obama and Job Creation
Damages and Penalties
Obstacles with Impossibilities
Making Others Feel Bad
Referrals and Recommendations
Woodpecker Frustration
Phrases, Not Resolutions
I Was A Crime Fighter and Super Hero
Comforting with Sympathizing
Nautical Worry Killers
Can You Keep A Secret?
Holiday Card Hazards
Gifts
Sharing, Transparency and Dumping
Red Alert
Readers Respond Regarding Rabbi
Readers: I Need Your Help with my Rabbi
Humphrey Bogart and P. T. Barnum on Fighting with Family and Friends
Columbus, Honors and Hound Dogs
The Free Lunch
When your child suffers
Conversational Transmitted Diseases
Conservative, Liberal or American
Paris, Antarctica and Shopping
Personal Protection
Dispute Resolution
Jumped or Pushed?
Friends and Acquaintances
Revenge and Vindication

© 2010 Alan Douglas

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles