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Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What To Do About It Paperback – August 1, 2011

5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Collinwood Press (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966927842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966927849
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Accettura is an estate planning attorney in Michigan with vast experience who has come to believe that what is often at stake when the will is read is love.

Siblings feel slighted and unloved or not loved best if they receive less than another sibling. This is a somewhat unusual interpretation, perhaps a generous one (instead of "greed"), of why families often fight ferociously over the remains of their loved ones. (The title of Accettura's first chapter is "Behaving like Animals.")

On the other hand it is sometimes the case, Accettura notes, that careless or vindictive persons leave "toxic" wills that can stir up animosities among the inherited as well as the disinherited. The first sin, though, and one that Accettura has convinced me is a grievous one, is to leave no will at all leading to the sometime agony of probate.

Accettura begins curiously (but I think correctly) with evolutionary psychology as a guide to how humans act under the circumstances of a death in the family which can cause past dysfunctional parent/child relationships and sibling rivalries to return center stage. From here Accettura goes into the basics and then the intricacies of inheritance matters from the proper composition and execution of a will to issues such as undue influence, testamentary capacity, the possibility of elder abuse, etc. There's a chapter on "terror management," by which Accettura means the stark fear that the death of a loved one can make us feel as we realize that we too will go the way of all flesh.

Accettura recalls some infamous inheritance cases to illustrate some of his points, including the sensational Brooke Astor story in which greed, vanity and large sums of money played out in the New York tabloid press like a sordid, rather sick soap opera.
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Format: Paperback
Blood and Money gives a textbook coverage of the issue of inheritance battles. I liked the way psychology and culture are shown to influence probate law. This approach was meaningful to me and made me appreciate that the law evolves.

This book impressed upon me the increasing freedom of choice in inheritance law. Whereas property was intended to pass down to sons since before the Code of Hammurabi, we now see cases where pets can get amazing inheritances such as Trouble, the late Leona Helmsley's dog. This goes well beyond the Romans, credited with being the first to allow testamentary freedom to those executing a will.

I couldn't help but think of how despite having a robust legal system, Americans with property to pass on to heirs often miss the mark. A lot of this book's content should be useful to anybody in such a position. The reader can take instruction on how to avoid having their estate probated. An additional benefit will be the mitigation of any bad feelings between heirs and would-be heirs due to the avoidance of a fight.
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Format: Paperback
"Blood and Money" is an especially well-researched and fascinating read. The history of inheritance law is worth the price of the book itself but you will learn so much more.

Before I read this book I had no idea that something called "financial elder abuse" was even happening. I also never considered how toxic testators could upset family dynamics. The knowledge you gain from reading this book will protect you as you age and could also protect your aging parents or grandparents. I think this is one book that everyone should read, especially if preparing a will or looking after an aging relative. What is a little disconcerting is that often relatives will take advantage of the elderly. This book seeks to educate you so this will never happen to you or someone you love. It also explains the root causes of conflict between family members.

You wouldn't think you'd laugh while reading a book like this but you might just find you do as I did on occasion. Even the chapter on death is far from macabre. This book is entertaining but it is also educational in many regards. You will appreciate the tips on estate planning.

I'd recommend this book to elder service providers, family counselors, lawyers, financial planners, law school professors, judges, accountants, social workers, psychologists and anyone who writes wills.

This book may bring back many memories. My paternal grandfather disinherited my father and I remember writing a letter explaining why this was a horrible idea. I suppose I felt partially responsible because the reasons for the disinheriting was because my father had decided to move our family to Africa and my grandfather was mad that he wasn't going to see his grandchildren.
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Format: Paperback
Mark Accettura is an experienced Michigan attorney (and prolific author), and on this occasion he is putting his long experience of disputes over inheritance at the disposal of the general public. His intention is to be widely intelligible, and he ends the main section of the book with an expression of hope that he has provided some useful guidance. Myself, I am not even American but I shall happily vote Yes on the counsellor's proposition. His style of writing is clear and literate, his explanation of the law is obviously an expert's and is interesting even to a non-American, and he is not afraid to dig deeper into areas outside of his own specialisation in order to get at the well-springs of motivation that have led litigants to behave in the way they have and look likely to continue to.

Before we get to the legalities Accettura wades bravely through issues of psychology, sociology and even the swamp of anthropology. He does not treat these questions in any academic way, weighing up alternatives and pronouncing on the relative merits of different theories, and for that relief much thanks. That sort of thing is for judges and juries deliberating on points of law and evidence. For present purposes what we want, and what we are given, is the clearly expressed view of a humane and rational man on issues that none of us can avoid whether or not we might wish to. He has to start with the most contentious issue (for Americans at least) of Darwin vs creationism, and he handles this hot potato very neatly. He is an obvious Darwinist and so am I, but both of us can concede that there may be a Creator of the cosmos who has made the rules of evolution and who may or may not be accelerating the process at times.
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