Estate Settlement

The Util Method: A Procedure for the Distribution of the Physical Assets of an Estate Developed by John E. Bunting

Introduction by Ann D. Bunting, PhD, sister-in-law of John E. Bunting.

John Bunting developed the Util Method in 1998 when serving as the executor of his mother's estate. He then posted it on the website of his business, OnWatch Electronics, in 1999. Although it is copyrighted, he made it available as a public service. John and I had a number of discussions about his ideas, and I followed the procedure as the executrix of my parent's estate. Subsequently, I wrote an article for the journal, Family Systems, published in 2003, and entitled, Estate Planning and Family Relationships: A Commentary on an Estate Distribution Method. That article is available on the website of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C.

John died in 2009. I am pleased that the Vermont Center for Family Studies website is carrying on the tradition of making the Util Method available to the public. In the introduction to my article about this method, I wrote the following:

The author was motivated to write this article for three reasons. The first was to inform people that there is a fair and objective method of distributing the physical assets of an estate that might be of interest to executors. The second was to demonstrate that a level of thoughtfulness and careful planning on the part of one family member can make a difference to the functioning of the family as a whole. The third was to emphasize how the basic tenets of Bowen theory can help people negotiate their way through the many relationship challenges inherent in predictable as well as unexpected life events.

The Util Method is a thoughtful contribution to individuals and families who are facing a significant nodal event, the distribution of the physical assets of an estate. The Util Method will be of interest to any family looking for a constructive and creative approach to such a distribution.

Full Text Article: The Util Method: A Procedure for the Distribution of the Physical Assets of an Estate

A Three-Step Process for Achieving Increased Compliance In Younger Children: Thinking, Observing, and Managing Self

by Erik Thompson, MA

Heartfelt compliance with responsible requests is prized by parents. Non-compliance with simple requests such as "Please hang up your coat" is often associated with power struggles, frustration, and disquiet in the home. This article considers the idea that children are weakened by a pattern of non-compliance, and presents some thoughts on how to gain ground in this area, illustrated by my own life as a parent of young children. I believe that with a few modifications these steps apply to teens, couples, and workplace relations as well.

Full Text Article: Achieving Compliance in Children

Dorothy Canfield Fisher's "Understood Betsy"

and Murray Bowen's "Child Projection Process"

by Erik Thompson, MA

The classic 1917 children's novel, Understood Betsy, by Vermont author Dorothy Canfield Fisher is a graceful portrait of Bowen's Family Projection Process. We are shown a child in two contrasting settings: one that illustrates what Bowen called child focus and one that illustrates what he called a well-differentiated family unit. A differentiated family is relatively free of anxious child focus, promoting emotional maturity in the child. This article summarizes the story and tells how the story illustrates theory.

Full Text Article: Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Understood Betsy and Murray Bowen's

The Emigrant Family: O.E. Rolvaag And Bowen Family Systems Theory

by Erik Thompson, MA

This paper discusses the Rolvaag's famous immigrant trilogy in the light of six aspects of Bowen Theory; Anxiety, Overfunctioning/Underfunctioning Reciprocity, Cutoff, Togetherness, Differentiation, and Triangles.

Full Text Article: The Emigrant Family: Rolvaag and Bowen Family System's Theory