The strains and stresses on surviving children from the death of parents happen because it's a time of grief. Even people committed to reducing their material possessions may desperately want Grandma's cracked teapot or Mother's engagement ring. A casual inquiry among friends brings forth horror stories of damage done to families when they are dividing their parents' or grandparents' possessions. Maybe we can devise guidelines to help steer into a calmer scenario — remember that the primary motive should be to preserve family relationships. However, if everyone has the attitude that they want to get the best deal or redress what they believe are old imbalances, they'll have a hard time putting those feelings behind them for the good of the family. After all, dealing with items from one's childhood can reawaken all sorts of long-forgotten jealousies, hurts and desires.
On a crisp autumn day, I stood on the steps of Gwinnett County Probate Court and watched my life vanish….