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Family Issue
Old 10-11-2013, 10:00 AM   #1
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Family Issue

Before going into the financial issue, I feel a bit of background needs to be given.

DH and I have two grown children. One married, no children. Our relationship is great and I know this child and spouse will be the ones who will continue to be of great support to us as we have been to them.
Our other adult child is married and has children. This child has been a challenge from the first birth cry. There were no disabilities, physical or mental, unless you consider possible borderline personality disorder. DH and I did our best to see that this one grew to be a contributor to the world and given a good education. In fact, our lions share of accommodation and attention ended up going to this child, who was our first-born.
Fast forward to the present. Difficult child married unstable, controlling person, who has total disdain for us and 98% of both my family and DH family. Spouses family is golden. Thus, our adult child has adopted the same attitude. Trust me, we worked hard to resolve and make sense of it all and walked on eggshells until DH and I thought WE were the crazy ones. There has now been no relationship with this child, spouse or grandchildren for close to seven years. They have no relationship with our other child. To say our hearts have been ripped out is an understatement.

Now for the financial issue. I inherited a goodly sum from my parents and I have been able to grow the amount even larger. I have never viewed this money as mine, but as my parents, since they worked so hard and were frugal. I am simply the caretaker of the principal. Might sound crazy, but that is how I feel in my heart about it.
My quandary- the thought of one dime of my parents money going to and being spent by someone who holds us all in disdain riles me up. Am I being vindictive or prudent to have set up my will to give half the estate to our close child and the other half divided among the grandchildren (who we don't even know?).
Close child is named executor. I also have concerns non-relationship child will cause problems for close child as in more nasty phone calls, legal trouble, etc. Executor child has said not to worry about it. They will do whatever we want. I just don't want their life to be made miserable. I've seen it in other families once money is involved.
Is a will ironclad enough?
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:43 AM   #2
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So you're thinking of leaving ALL the money to the good child?

Eh...

Maybe leave half to the good kid and the other half to charity.

Or, keep the other half in some sort of trust and if things ever change, the executor can dole the money out to the other sibling. Although, that could cause more problems.
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:47 AM   #3
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No! IMO, a will doesn't cover this issue 100%. A will can be contested in court and in your situation, child #1 would probably have every legal right to half your assets regardless of how you feel. IMO, a trust is more ironclad in terms of honoring what you want to do with your assets. I did this very thing to avoid lawsuits by those that may contest our wills. There may be other avenues to fit your needs and maybe some good legal minds out there can chime in. Also, your state of residence may determine your best course of action. Good luck.
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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Whew, what a difficult dilemma. I would not like to be your Executor if implementation of your wishes escalates family conflict. This might be a situation where getting an independent executor is worth it, for the sake of your "good" child. If you want to bypass the "difficult" child, I would also consider setting up a revocable trust in favour of the grandchildren, and keeping it to yourself.
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:51 AM   #5
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I've never been married, and don't have children, but I have seen, firsthand as a kid, issues similar to what you mentioned between my Mom and one of my sisters when I was growing up.

Bottom line - I would never leave money (mine nor anybody else's) to people who didn't respect me, nor want a relationship with me. I don't care if they're family or not.

In fact, to avoid any legal issues when it comes time to execute a will and handle an estate, I would legally disinherit them in advance.

My mother almost did this with a problem child (one of my sisters) when my sister and her husband had a bad falling out with my Mom and Dad, and they didn't speak for years. That left a very big impression on me, as I was a kid at the time.

If it were me, I would leave everything to the child, and his/her family, who cares about me, maintains a relationship with me, and loves me. The other one, and their family, could starve in the streets as far as I'm concerned. I know this sounds incredibly harsh, but it's just the way I'm wired...

Anyways, good luck in this incredibly difficult decision.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:04 AM   #6
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I agree that it is reasonable to feel that they should not get the money, nor should the grandchildren you do not know. I do think a trust, with your wishes stated that the money should be dispersed at the discretion of the trustees (perhaps your "good" child and another trusted friend could share this responsibility?) and that way, if things change, it gives them flexibility to provide for the other child or grandchildren.

I can tell you that for our family, we have set up 2 trust accounts, both governed by the same trustee, my sister's husband. The trusts will be of equal size, and beneficiaries are his and my sister's kids for one, and the other for my brother's kids. We felt that way he would not be in the position of choosing to give money to the other children instead of his own.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:10 AM   #7
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You need to consult an estate attorney. Unless they just graduated from law school they've dealt with this before. Wills and trusts can be contested. After you're gone, the "problem" child can claim your "good" son poisened you against him despite his repeated attempts to maintain a relationship. Nothing like some money to get the blood flowing. He would have little or nothing to lose.

Back to the lawyer, I've heard that typical approaches involve a video will where you clearly discuss the will and why your one son has been removed from any benefits. Another is leaving them a relatively small amount compared to the "good" son and put a clause in that they lose it if they contest the will.

Unfortunately, when DW and I dealt with my in-laws will the attorney was just ending a big contested will battle where the "problem" daughter was trying to break the will because she wasn't given as much as her siblings. She eventually withdrew her suit when it bacame obvious that she would not be successful and then she'd lose the smaller bequest. The lawyer had the option of getting her completely cut out of the will but the siblings agreed it was better to let her have her original bequest rather than pay for the continuing fight. Please note that the "problem" child lost nothing by her attempt to break the will.

Another option is to transfer most of the money while you are still alive. You didn't indicate how much the inheritance is for so you'd have to investigate the various transfer options. One is obviously the trust. Cash gifts are another.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:25 AM   #8
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+1 on an estate attorney.

IMHO - Treat each family the same. You never know what your children will, or can do after your gone. Im just learning about relationships DF had cut off, due to a perceived unfairness in his DM estate. What an injustice he did to our families.

If it goes to the one generation it should be equal percentages. If you want to skip a generation, do it the same.

You can only help make it possible for families to heal, by doing no harm.

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Old 10-11-2013, 11:29 AM   #9
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Bottom line - I would never leave money (mine nor anybody else's) to people who didn't respect me, nor want a relationship with me. I don't care if they're family or not.

In fact, to avoid any legal issues when it comes time to execute a will and handle an estate, I would legally disinherit them in advance.
Exactly my sentiments! I would never ever leave any money to anyone who did not care about me in life or care to have a relationship. Neither them nor their offspring would get my money (only if the offspring knows me and have a productive relationship with me). My husband and I work too hard for that to happen. A child who neglects their parents for no good reason, does not deserved to be honored by their parents. I was raised to love and honor your parents even though they may not be perfect. Failing to talk to your parents for seven years for no good reason is a big no no in my book. Anyone who is a parent knows what a heartbreak it would be not to have your child talk to you. Most parents do not deserve to suffer that way.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:46 AM   #10
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I suggest that you spend all the money on yourselves, then you won't have a dilemma since there would be none left for either child.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:55 AM   #11
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Since you don't plan on spending the money you inherited from your parents on yourself, why not start disbursing that sum to the close child? That way, close child and family can start enjoying the money now, and there will be less money left to fight over when the time comes.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:01 PM   #12
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I also have two children and expect them to create their own wealth. I would use this money to live on the beach in Hawaii. Invite them all over and pay for it if you want. My heart would also be broken. I would just do what is right in my eyes and hope the relationships would mend. I'm thinking disowning a child would not make that happen so would treat them the same.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:07 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
Since you don't plan on spending the money you inherited from your parents on yourself, why not start disbursing that sum to the close child? That way, close child and family can start enjoying the money now, and there will be less money left to fight over when the time comes.
+1

Plus, this will allow you to see them enjoy it while you can.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:14 PM   #14
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I like FIREd's idea too. I think it would be a great way to mitigate this conflict, to the extent you can. Good luck--these matters are so difficult.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:42 PM   #15
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So you're thinking of leaving ALL the money to the good child? Eh... Maybe leave half to the good kid and the other half to charity. Or, keep the other half in some sort of trust and if things ever change, the executor can dole the money out to the other sibling. Although, that could cause more problems.
No, executor will get half and estranged child's children will get the other half divided equally between them.
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:47 PM   #16
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Since you don't plan on spending the money you inherited from your parents on yourself, why not start disbursing that sum to the close child? That way, close child and family can start enjoying the money now, and there will be less money left to fight over when the time comes.
I wish I could. However the dividends the money is throwing off is our main support .
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:54 PM   #17
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No, executor will get half and estranged child's children will get the other half divided equally between them.
I don't see any magic solution, so your current plan may be the best of many possible compromises.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:06 PM   #18
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What was the relationship of the estranged child to your parents? What do you think your parents would want you to do?

My humble opinion....whatever you believe they would want is what you will ultimately be at peace with.
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:02 PM   #19
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What was the relationship of the estranged child to your parents? What do you think your parents would want you to do? My humble opinion....whatever you believe they would want is what you will ultimately be at peace with.
Hummmm. That is a different way to look at it. Thinking back, my Dad was pretty put out with the child and let him know it. Their relationship was ok, though I wouldn't say close. However, Dad and Mom made a big point of treating their own children equally, but my siblings and I always treated them with respect (or else! &#128521. If my parents were in my shoes, they would probably divide equally. Something inside me just resists that. I feel like I would be rewarding bad behavior.
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Old 10-11-2013, 02:06 PM   #20
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You could always leave his/her share to charity - in his/her name, of course.
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