Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JEANNE FLEM­ING AND LEONARD SCHWARZ Please email your ques­tions about money, ethics and re­la­tion­ships to Ques­tions@MoneyMan­

DEAR JEANNE & LEONARD: Our lawyer is urg­ing my hus­band and me to con­vene a fam­ily meet­ing to dis­cuss our es­tate plans (we’re in our 60s). Ac­cord­ing to “Larry,” the best way to en­sure smooth sail­ing after we’re gone is to let our kids know now what to ex­pect. Is this re­ally such a smart move? We’re not try­ing to blind­side our chil­dren or any­thing. But we know some of them will be un­happy with the terms of our wills, and we don’t want to spend the rest of our lives deal­ing with pres­sure, re­sent­ment, hurt feel­ings and so on. Your thoughts?

— Tina DEAR TINA: We’re sur­prised Lawyer Larry didn’t sug­gest chang­ing your wills to make your kids happy. Be­cause it’ll cer­tainly be smoother sail­ing for him if you have that fam­ily con­fab now. He’ll be spared hav­ing to de­liver the bad news after you’re gone and hav­ing to deal with the fall­out. But that’s what he’s paid to do. So why an­nounce your plans if you’ll only be mak­ing trou­ble for your­selves? Un­less you have, say, a child who’s spend­ing fool­ishly in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a pot of gold that’s not go­ing to be there, or a dis­abled grand­child whose par­ents would be re­lieved to know that much-needed re­sources are likely to be avail­able, there’s no need for your heirs to know your es­tate plans. If you be­lieve it best to leave them — or some of them — in the dark, trust your gut, not your at­tor­ney.


LEONARD: When we were vis­it­ing friends, our tod­dler knocked over a vase. The vase sur­vived, but the flow­ers and water in it splat­tered all over our friends’ sofa. My hus­band and I leapt in to help clean up the mess, but un­for­tu­nately one sofa cush­ion now has a fairly no­tice­able stain. Should we of­fer to pay to have the cush­ion pro­fes­sion­ally cleaned? Or does this fall into the cat­e­gory of “ac­ci­dents hap­pen”? To be hon­est, I was shocked that our friends had some­thing as per­ilous as a vase in reach when they knew we were com­ing over with our two small chil­dren — es­pe­cially since this cou­ple is child­less and quite fussy. But I want to do the right thing.

— L.S. DEAR L.S.: We know a child­less cou­ple whose rule is this: No guests al­lowed who aren’t old enough to have taken the SATs. Now we know why.

Se­ri­ously, you’re dan­ger­ously close to blam­ing the vic­tim when you dis­ap­prove of your friends’ place­ment of the vase. If you were shocked that these folks didn’t child­proof their home in an­tic­i­pa­tion of your fam­ily’s visit, imag­ine how shocked they must have been that you didn’t pre­vent your tod­dler from get­ting any­where near a flower-and­wa­ter-filled vase.

To an­swer your ques­tion, though: Yes, you should of­fer — sin­cerely of­fer — to have the dam­aged cush­ion pro­fes­sion­ally cleaned. If your hosts won’t let you — if they say, “Ac­ci­dents hap­pen” — you’re off the hook. But mak­ing that call is up to them, not you. Ei­ther way, don’t for­get to apol­o­gize, not only for your child’s knock­ing over the vase, but for your al­low­ing it to hap­pen.

Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/RON WOLFE

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