Today we are going to Muse about the Committee of Wise Elders. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
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I read some time back that your brothers and sisters are often the people most influential in your life. You may interact and share experiences with them for more years than any other person including your parents.
This little boy, here about 2 years old, was Peter, my older brother. He died in July. I had known him longer than any other person.
He was a unique individual, analytical and methodical. And he kept records of everything. He had journals recording every household expenditure item by item going back into the 1950’s. He had all of his tax records going back into the 1950’s. It was his obsession.
Several years ago he began to think about the disposition of his assets after his death. He and his wife, Ilse, established a trust leaving most of their estate, which was substantial, to charity.
Ilse and Peter created a small booklet titled Disposition of Tangible Personal Property when they created their trusts. Ilse later died. After that, Pete focused on the personal property, i.e., books, furniture, kitchen ware, art, collectables, etc. Ultimately the booklet listed nearly everything in his apartments, about 500 items.
Committee of Wise Elders
The booklet called for a Committee of Wise Elders to prepare an inventory of any remaining undesignated items of tangible personal property and communicate such to family members who may express an interest.. This committee was composed of myself and my sister, representing my brother’s side of the family and Ilse’s cousin and her husband, representing Ilse’s side of the family. The committee was given a list of seventeen family members and friends who would be eligible to receive items from the estate.
Early in September all the family members and friends were sent a letter explaining the situation, and providing them with a list of the available estate items. It asked them to respond with any requests, with the understanding that some things might be requested by several people and the final decision would fall to the committee. Thirteen people responded with requests.
Last week Jeanette and I flew to Chicago where the Committee of Wise Elders was to meet.
Our first item of business was to scatter Peter’s ashes with Ilse’s ashes in Lake Michigan. We had hired a boat which would have been to the right of this picture.
It headed out the harbor through the opening in the breakwater seen in the middle just above Navy Pier. There is a light house at the breakwater opening.
And once we were out in the lake we scattered their ashes together.
As you can see, the weather was good and everything went well.
The scattering of ashes in Lake Michigan is an interesting issue. Apparently Michigan does not allow it, but Illinois does. You just have to be out at least a mile.
For the next three days the Committee convened. Most items that were requested were requested by only one person. In other cases, the committee was able to agree on the disposition of items that received multiple requests. In only one instance was there a tie vote and the decision was made by a flip of a coin (quarter) as prescribed in the committee charter.
Most of our time was spent individually tagging each item with its number from the inventory and with the name of the person to whom it is to be shipped. Where possible we grouped the items to be shipped to any given person.
In the end, we met with the Trust Administrator and walked him through the apartments. They were messy with piles of stuff here and there. He was amazed with all the tagged items. To give you an idea of the detail, look at this:
It is a post card my brother left to me. It is itemized in the inventory
We presented the trust administrator with a 34 page inventory list with item numbers and recipient’s names. The Committee of Wise Elders job was done.
Fortunately we do not have to pack, crate and ship the things. That is the bank’s job.
more to come
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