Inheritance, Like Family, Is Messy

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With guest host Michel Martin.

The documentary “Black Heirlooms,” tells the story of how inheritances, even humble ones, can tear families apart. We talk to the director.

A still from Amanda Brown's documentary film, "Black Heirlooms." (Courtesy the FIlmmaker)
A still from Amanda Brown's documentary film, "Black Heirlooms." (Courtesy the FIlmmaker)

In a new documentary short, “Black Heirlooms”, filmmaker Amanda Brown takes a hard look at her family and the $51,000 that tore them apart. When her grandmother, Edna Mae Royal  suffered a stroke,  she didn’t have a living will. They battled over her care and her estate. Brothers and sisters stopped talking to each other. Cousins became estranged. Lawyers got involved. The sad storyline is playing out in many homes across the country , especially in low-income and African- American families, who don’t talk—even know about estate planning. This hour, On Point: "Black Heirlooms," and maybe your family.
-- Michel Martin


Amanda Brown, community organizer and director of the short documentary film, "Black Heirlooms." (@blackheirlooms)

Lori Anne Douglas, partner in the trusts and estates groups at the Moses and Singer Law Firm.

Rakesh Kochhar, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. Co-author of a new report on race and wealth inequality. (@rakeshkochhar)

From The Reading List

New York Times: A Respectful Deference to Elders Curdles Into a Fight Over Assets -- "'This is my family,' the narrator says, as the figure $51,283.50 lingers on screen. 'And this is the amount of money that tore us all apart.'"

IndieWire: Fundraising Campaign For Documentary About The Wealth Gap From A Millennial Perspective  -- "It’s no secret that the number one cause of arguments among couples and families is the root of all evil - money. And that’s a subject that crosses all categories regardless of race, class or social standing. However, increasingly, there is growing interest in the widening wealth gap, and how it especially impacts black families."

Pew Research Center: Wealth inequality has widened along racial, ethnic lines since end of Great Recession — "The current gap between blacks and whites has reached its highest point since 1989, when whites had 17 times the wealth of black households. The current white-to-Hispanic wealth ratio has reached a level not seen since 2001. (Asians and other racial groups are not separately identified in the public-use versions of the Fed’s survey.)"

Watch "Black Heirlooms" by Amanda Brown

This program aired on December 16, 2014.


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