Last week, the media reported that Sir Elton John, famous and wealthy musician and producer only received two ceramic urns from his late mother’s will while his former assistant who was blamed for their family dispute is in line for half of her fortune. I am very sure Elton John does not need the money - after all, he is worth more than 450 million dollars and is ranked amongst the top 10 artistes of all time.
However, this blatant rejection by his mum must sting, especially because she chose his former assistant over him. No matter what anyone says, inheritance decisions are often the ultimate and final measure of what our parents really thought about us. Your parents might have purported to love you truly and deeply in life, but this all counts for nothing if they opt to leave their earthly fortune to the family tabby cat, or family servant.
Inheritance decisions have been known to tear families apart and leave the surviving siblings in never-ending squabbles and fights. Duplicity and backstabbing reign supreme in matters inheritance - if in doubt read the story of Jacob and Esau. In order to manage the inevitable about death and inheritance, here are a few tips to follow.
For starters, one needs to take a fine and realistic view of what is and could be at stake. You see, some of us have parents who all their lives have been challenged in investment matters - they have little or nothing to show for their life on this earth. Some of our parents display habits better suited for a career in the world of secrecy and conspiracy; never giving anyone a true picture of what they own on this earth as they dare not speak of their worth as they burrow their prized possessions in secret places.
You have the more progressive ones who come clean about their true wealth - but in the African context these are in the minority. It is recommended that one gets a full understanding of what is at stake before they get all caught up in the drama and emotion that comes with inheritance manenos.
One might be required to invest in the ‘search for inheritance’ - maybe inject some truth serum into your parents’ tea so that they confess or hire a PI to establish the truth.
This is to avoid painful outcomes - like inflicting or receiving bodily harm in the fight for postage stamp sized pieces of land or some negligible bank balance. If the inheritance if sizeable, fight for it, if not, then walk away and make your own.
The battle for inheritance is won long before parents leave this earth. It requires quite some stealth and strategy and the firm understanding that one never knows if and when the efforts will bear fruit or when the grim reaper will strike and who will go first. One sure way to secure your inheritance is to have favour with your parents. This might involve pandering to their numerous needs, including everything from medical care to giving your time and resources to the numerous churches and causes they choose to adopt as they grow older.
It might involve developing a certain level of tolerance and patience for the numerous times they repeat the same old tales, for their rigid views on life and for their generally cantankerous approach to life. Some children are able to do this effortlessly, but others do it through gritted teeth for we know that most parents in their heydays were terrorists who displayed little in way of mercy and tenderness to their offspring. The natural reaction to such parents would be to deny them love and care in their old age, but this might not yield the right returns in terms of inheritance.
When it comes to the quest for inheritance, one needs to be careful and watch out for potential pretenders to the throne. On one hand, you have your siblings who often feel entitled to a portion of or all the inheritance. You also have the other family members who might also feel entitled to the piece of pie since they share some DNA with the departed. This is even before we get to the random wives, husbands and offsprings who mysteriously show up to stake their claim once they sniff inheritance.
The only sure way to deal this this pack of inheritance hyenas is to get the right team of legal support to manage the attacks.
They say that all is fair in love and war but when it comes to inheritance, anything goes - we all have witnessed gory and grisly drama and fights between once loving families all in the name of inheritance. Finally, always remember inheritance matters are not always fair. Despite all the love and care you may extend to your parents, they might still choose to bequeath all their wealth to that annoying good-for-nothing sibling.
Culture might also win the day and you might see the same house you built and toiled for go to that spoilt and entitled last born. At the end of the day, the best way to deal with all this is to work for your own wealth - inheritance is never guaranteed. [email protected]