Hi Dr. Laura,
When my grandparents passed away within 9 months of each other in 2005, my mother was the executor of their will, which stated the estate was to be split 3 ways, 1/3 to my mother, 1/3 to her sister and 1/3 to be split by the 3 grandchildren (me, my brother and my cousin). I had no idea how much work could be involved in handling someone's estate. It took my mother an hour a night, 5 days per week for a year. Not counting all the phone calls, faxes, mailings etc to deal with all the paperwork between where we live, where my aunt lives and where my grandparents had lived.
At the end, she told me that it was common practice for the executor to get a fee but she wasn't going to take one. I was astonished, she willingly gave up that fee she was entitled to and no one in our family would have objected to. However, she wanted everyone to get as much of their "share" as possible. So, at my step-dad's suggestion, the rest of us got together and had an enormous Christmas floral arrangement, which came in a gorgeous stone vase and had several reusable elements to it, delivered to her at her office. We included a nice card thanking her for her time and efforts and she was so shocked! She called me crying, just so happy we had all noticed her hard work. After that, every year at Christmas time she was able to put the resuable elements in the vase she kept out year round and was reminded of our appreciation for her. I'm so glad we did this as my mom was unexpectedly diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in 2009 and passed away herself only 8 months later.
I feel so sad when I hear of family's fighting over wills, shares, things. That kind of behavior completely dishonors the life and legacy of the ones who have gone and damages remaining relationships, sometimes beyond repair. And for what? stuff? money? You can't take any of that with you. I would certainly rather have my Mom back than any of the jewelry and other things she left me.
Thanks for everything Dr Laura!