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Real Talk: From the Real Housewives

The Real Housewives of Atlanta is one of my T.V. obsessions. I generally do not watch it on time but when I do get a chance to catch up on the show I am generally thoroughly entertained. The Episode called "Hot Tea with a Side of Cookies" impressed me not due to all the shade that was thrown during the episode but during the real talk moment between Kandi and Todd about Mama Joyce choosing Riley to be her primary beneficiary. While the Mama Joyce and Todd controversy is not foreign when it comes to blended families I commend Kandi and Todd for having this conversation on air because it is a conversation that a lot of families need to have with one another.

To break down what occurred for the non watchers, Todd and Mama Joyce have some what of a strained relationship. Mama Joyce is Kandi's mother and Todd is Kandi's husband. Kandi in this episode advised Todd that Mama Joyce put Riley, Kandi's oldest biological daughter, as her first beneficiary because she trusted that Riley would take care of her siblings. The real issue is that Mama Joyce does not trust Todd to take care of Riley if she left Kandi as her primary beneficiary.

A beneficiary is typically someone who receives a benefit distribution from a trust, a will, or a life insurance policy. There are other ways to receive a distribution as a beneficiary, those mentioned are the general ways to be named a beneficiary. In this case I will assume that that Mama Joyce has created her estate (Will or Trust) and has listed Riley instead of Kandi because Kandi has Todd listed as a beneficiary of her estate. This means that if Mama Joyce were to list Kandi as the beneficiary and something happened to Mama Joyce and Kandi, Todd would reap the benefit of Mama Joyce's estate because of his inheritance through his wife. If Mama Joyce leaves her estate to Riley then Todd does not reap the benefits of the estate unless Riley specifically has an estate plan naming him as a beneficiary. Sounds like a lot. Well it is!!!

Kandi said something during the episode that is so true. These are the hard conversations that we must have but its important to have them. Todd said something equally true to Kandi. These conversations don't have to be that hard. I agree with them both. These conversations are hard but we can make them easier. The first thing you should do is sit down with someone you trust, preferably an estate planning attorney, to determine what conversation is needed. Then from there everyone has to understand that in a blended family situation there will be misunderstandings and lack of trust. However, we have to allow people to do what they believe is right with their own estate. Never forget the phrase "To each its own." People will do what they want with their things in life and do the same after death, if planned correctly.

So for all of my blended families out there let this be a great lesson for you. There are hard conversations that we need to have. Don't let the conversation happen after you are gone because then the conversation gets more difficult.

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