No matter how many times I’ve seen a child get robbed of his or her inheritance, it still makes me sick.
Bob and Linda, both with children from a previous relationship, got another chance at love. Unfortunately, neither of them had a will or trust (an estate plan). Like most couples, Bob and Linda wanted their money and property to go to whichever spouse lives longer so that the living spouse will be taken care of. But, once they both pass on, Bob and Linda intended for everything that was theirs to be split equally among all their children, stepchildren included (no Cinderella stories here). They figured that their children would figure out how to split their money fairly.
Unfortunately for Linda’s children, that’s not what happened. Instead, when Linda passed away, all of her money went to Bob. At that point, it was all Bob’s money; none of it belonged to Linda anymore (she died, remember?). When Bob finally passed away, however, guess where the money and stuff went? Here’s a hint, none of it went to Linda’s kids. Nope. All of it went to Bob’s kids. The worst part? When Bob and Linda got married, Linda had almost twice as much money as Bob. That’s right. Even though Linda had way more money when they got married, it all ended up going only to Bob’s children. Because Bob and Linda failed to get their wills and trusts in order, Linda’s children lost out on what should have been their inheritance.
Don’t let that happen to your children! A carefully crafted will and trust can ensure that your property and assets will go where you want them to go.
What’s that you say? All your children get along? Good! You still need a will or trust! Take the example of Joe and Carrie. They were childhood sweethearts that eventually married and had a boy and a girl (the perfect American family). They all lived happily ever after… well, sort of. At the age of 64, Joe died from cancer. Two years later, Carrie, while driving with her daughter, got into a terrible car accident. Both Carrie and her daughter passed away. So, all of Carrie’s money was split evenly between Carrie’s living son and, guess who else? The daughter’s children. Carrie’s daughter had two boys, a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old. Sadly, due to the nature of teenage boys, not one penny was spent on college, a house, or investments. In fact, one of the boys purchased an expensive sports car with his inheritance and wound up in his very own severe car accident. While Joe and Carrie knew their kids would get along, they didn’t plan on their money being passed to financially inexperienced grandchildren.
Don’t let your descendants “blow” their inheritance!
A proper estate plan can make sure your hard-earned life’s work won’t be wasted on frivolity. As an example, my personal estate plan directs that in order for any of my decedents to receive their inheritance they have to either;
1) Graduate from an accredited 4-year university, 2) Be married for five consecutive years to the same person, or 3) Live to the age of 35. In theory, if my descendants do one of those things, they’ve proven themselves to be somewhat responsible (the important phrase here is “in theory”). You can pick whatever requirement that you see fit. Each estate plan, every will, and all trusts are completely tailored to your desires.
You may think that just because you don’t have much inheritance you don’t need a will or a trust, huh? Unless you’re living under a bridge (in which case I’m not sure how you’re reading this article online) you’ve got something to leave behind.
By taking a little time now, you can make sure that your descendants inherit what you want them to inherit when you want them to inherit it. The last thing you can do for your children or grandchildren here on earth gives them an inheritance. Make sure yours leaves a legacy as great as the life you’ve lead.
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