When You Don’t Trust A Family Member To Inherit Your Property
It often happens that when you create an estate plan, there may be someone in your family that, for some reason, you want to leave out of your plan, or that you want to leave fewer assets to. This may not be done out of spite or anger; often, there are simply family members that we may not feel are responsible enough to handle larger inheritances, or, there are family members that have just “walked away” from the family, and chosen to isolate themselves from familial relations.
Estate Planning Can Help
When you are creating an estate plan, you have a dilemma: You may not want to treat the family member as equal to other family members, but you also may not want to completely disinherit them. In fact, you may want to use your estate as a “carrot,” to incentivize the “black sheep” family member to come back to the fold.
The good news is that there are ways to do just this.
Equality is Not Required
Remember that nothing in estate planning law requires that all family members be treated equally—however, you must have an estate plan, because without it, the default laws—the intestate laws—will divide your assets generally evenly between and amongst family members.
If you do choose to disinherit (and that would include the family member inheriting something that is far less than other family members), communication is key. When you are gone, the first thing the disinherited family member will say is that you were not of sound mind when you disinherited them, which could lead to a will challenge. Communication and explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing can go a long way to avoiding challenges later on.
You can also treat different family members differently, when it comes to how the inheritance is received. So, for example, one brother could receive funds all at once, in a lump sum inheritance, and the other may only get parts of the inheritance at certain time or accomplishment milestones.
You Can Always Change Your Mind
One good thing about disinheriting someone, is that it isn’t permanent. While you are alive, you can use estate vehicles, like revocable trusts, that can be modified or changed. Additionally, you can set up trusts that can have incentives in them.
For example, you can incentivize someone to be a part of the family, or you can restrict how the family member spends the money, or you can make sure that he or she only uses money for a specific purpose.
This can be a good balance; on the one hand, you aren’t completely disinheriting someone, but on the other hand, you are restricting the family member’s use and access to the money.
Trusts are not as difficult or complex as you may think, and if you are selecting a trustee, it is always best to do it now, when you are around and can speak to whomever you choose, about his or her duties under the trust.
Call the Torrance wills attorneys at Samuel Ford Law today to create an estate plan that works for your particular family situation.