Someone died suddenly last month leaving a lot of hostility behind. He was kind, wealthy and charitable during his lifetime, but his family accused him of being cruel and mean in death.

He left most of his estate to people he thought needed money most and that infuriated his children. He anticipated some grudges and it was the reason he left his will to a trusted friend. He stated in the will that his children were well-off and his money would serve those who find life a constant struggle.

Of course, his family is still contesting the decision, but there is nothing the judges could do about it. I hear a lot of opinions about it. As I said, they are just opinions, but the man knew exactly what he was doing. However, it has raised a lot of questions to many of his relatives and friends. Do the children have the explicit right to the estate of their parents? Yes, some said, it is their birthright. Those who disagree had their say too.

Parents should only make sure their offspring are left with enough. It is to the discretion of the owners of the estate who they want to benefit the rest. I tend to agree with this view. Money spent on your family during your lifetime is more important than leaving it to the mercy of someone, who never worked hard for. Isn’t it enough to provide good education and a decent shelter?

On second thought, there are other aspects of family values that come to mind. Good upbringing is something you do insist in your lifetime and it is no good telling your children how to behave after death.

After all, a will is just a piece of paper, but many of the old man’s friends have something to ponder about. Of course, not many of them have much to leave, except, perhaps, for a rundown house and a well used car. But one or two of them would really give it a careful consideration. Would they follow the example of their good friend?

As they are now in the twilight of their lives, it should be interesting what they are thinking about the properties they rent, cash in the bank and businesses they leave behind.

What is more interesting, perhaps, is what’s going on in the minds of their children. They might be watching nervously, trying to anticipate what their old men are planning.

I think, the automatic inheritance theory is becoming less popular these days. We become more conscious of people outside the family. It makes some sense to touch the lives of the poor families after you are gone. Children expecting to get everything might contest this. It is not exactly up to them, is it?

What you and I do with our money in the end is our problem. Unless, of course, we leave behind very young children. One old gentleman, I talked to, had a middle-of-the-road version. He would spend everything he owns and enjoy himself. He said that he did not want to die in controversy.

“There would be no debts and no money either,” he explained, bursting out with laughter, “just the house I live in now.” I am not sure he would do that because he has not sold up his two rented properties, yet!

The problem of being elderly, they say, is that you never know how old you are going to die. If you leave enough funds up to 75 and live to 95, then what are you going to do for the next 20 years? Perhaps, this is the reason why they never give away money during their lifetime.

The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.