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Old 12-30-2007, 11:45 AM   #21
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But here's my take away message based on my Mom's will (she's still around, but showed us kids the will).
In some families the will is used as leverage to induce the kids to spend more time with the parents!

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My general recommendation: Divide it all up equally.
Dividing things equally is defensible and less likely to cause bad feelings.
It's certainly simpler and easier for peace of mind.

Here's another approach to consider. Spouse and I aren't likely to need whatever money my father would pass on, and I'm a bit concerned about affluenza if it's passed directly to his grandkid. (His concerns may be different.) He knows the big picture of our financial situation, although I've never discussed the details with him. Meanwhile my brother has spent most of his life pursuing his rhythm & blues band instead of filthy lucre-- so perhaps he "needs" the money more than I do. In that situation I'd certainly understand if my father left his estate to my brother and left us a few bucks for a nice inter-island family cruise.

In another branch of our family, the will is more an instrument of emotional blackmail than an estate-planning tool. Spouse and I can opt out of the whole drama by expressing a preference that the estate go to anyone or anything else, even if it's just used to care for Leona Helmsley's dog.

The first problem with the "we don't need the money" approach is actually being able to sit down with those relatives and express those desires. It's probably easier to roll the dice on probate than to have a family discussion. The second problem is that disclaiming may push the money in a direction we wouldn't want it to go, although we could address that issue during probate. The third is that, despite our current financial optimism situation, spouse and I may really need that inheritance someday after all.

I guess the simplest/best approach is to give each inheritor an equal share-- although that may be done after following Hilton's approach of giving 97% to charity off the top and letting the heirs deal with the leftovers.
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Old 12-30-2007, 05:02 PM   #22
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My general recommendation: Divide it all up equally.
I 2nd the motion. Sooner or later some heir wil p$ss it all away, might as well be sooner rather than later. After all, you won't have to watch.

EDIT: spelling
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Old 12-30-2007, 06:45 PM   #23
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Spouse and I aren't likely to need whatever money my father would pass on, and I'm a bit concerned about affluenza if it's passed directly to his grandkid. (His concerns may be different.)
must have missed or forgotten past mention of your brother but for some reason i thought you were an only child.

anyway, this might apply to you regarding your dad's will. my uncle does not want me naming my brother as heir in case i should die first, because when he dies his estate would have that much more tax exposure.

i forget precisely what he said (because when he starts doling out my money, i stop listening) but it was something to the affect of setting up a trust that my brother would benefit from during his life but that upon his death the money would pass directly from me to his children even though i'd already be dead. and just as soon as my brother coughs up the extra money to pay the lawyer for such a complicated document i'll give it further consideration.

as to prior comments. i totally agree with al-t about equality though i'd add to discuss that with your children if you think one, as in nords' case, might not want the money. i think it is important to keep in mind that you (general you) are the one who is dying but your kids are stuck here.

i also agree with want2retire that the money is not just cash; it is legacy; it is a final farewell; it is to have been thought of in a loved one's will. i remember feeling badly when the ol'man died because he didn't leave me anything. well, of course he left me everything through mom but that's not the point. it just made me feel bad to not have been named. nothing terrible but to not have said goodbye to me by name. it would have been nice.
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Old 12-30-2007, 07:42 PM   #24
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When we want to pass an estate that is other than hard assets consider an ethical will. Something like this: Ethical Wills: Preserving Your Legacy of Values
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Old 12-30-2007, 08:19 PM   #25
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must have missed or forgotten past mention of your brother but for some reason i thought you were an only child.
Nah, just not a particularly close family. His friends can't believe he has a brother either.

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anyway, this might apply to you regarding your dad's will. my uncle does not want me naming my brother as heir in case i should die first, because when he dies his estate would have that much more tax exposure.
Phhhhbbbt. Sounds like your uncle is worried that your brother will inherit so much money from your estate that your brother's heirs won't be able to inherit theirs under the estate-tax exclusion.

That's your brother's problem.

"Your problem" would be if your estate exceeded the estate-tax deduction and your heirs had to pay estate tax out of your remaining money. Trusts are about the only effective way to avoid that problem after you die, but there's always a non-trust solution to avoid the problem before you die. You could spend it or give it away or put it in a charitable remainder trust.
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Old 12-30-2007, 08:26 PM   #26
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I am here the second to the last day of the year, getting online credits to meet continuing legal education requirements. (I am not ready to let go of that license). I just listened to a 1.5 hour seminar on estate planning and using powers in trusts to be able to make post death adjustments in how much a person will get under a trust. So, the OP might consider talking to a lawyer and see about getting a bit fancy with the trust so that distributions are dependent on certain factors.
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Old 12-31-2007, 12:30 AM   #27
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i remember feeling badly when the ol'man died because he didn't leave me anything. well, of course he left me everything through mom but that's not the point. it just made me feel bad to not have been named. nothing terrible but to not have said goodbye to me by name. it would have been nice.
My mom and dad had identical wills leaving everything to each other. So when Dad died, I got his watch. I love it and am wearing it now. I still have his last letter to me, too. As far as I was concerned, their money was theirs alone. They worked as a team to earn it and it was absolutely right that Mom should have full use of it in her latter years. In her will, she left me her entire estate (which I was not counting on, either).
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:01 AM   #28
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That's your brother's problem.

"Your problem" would be if your estate exceeded the estate-tax deduction and your heirs had to pay estate tax out of your remaining money. Trusts are about the only effective way to avoid that problem after you die, but there's always a non-trust solution to avoid the problem before you die. You could spend it or give it away or put it in a charitable remainder trust.
precisely why he can pay for the lawyer. but my brother would not even think of having anything to do with my will (he feels it is very private & personal). so it's just my uncle's non-issue.

and so right on how to take care of my problem. not a problem.

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My mom and dad had identical wills leaving everything to each other. So when Dad died, I got his watch. I love it and am wearing it now. I still have his last letter to me, too. As far as I was concerned, their money was theirs alone. They worked as a team to earn it and it was absolutely right that Mom should have full use of it in her latter years. In her will, she left me her entire estate (which I was not counting on, either).
so right meadbh. my folks had will set up similarly as it should be. mom gave me the ol'man's swiss army pocket knife (which i gave to him as a present many years ago & always wore it on his belt). he also had every tool imaginable and i got a lot of those and thank him every time i use one to fix something. it would have been even nicer though if he left it to me, just to have been named.

as to not counting on your parents leaving what they have to you (outside of some charitable giving), as proud & independent as that sounds and while i agree to not count on such an event for far future financial planning, i would not even consider leaving out the next generation from my will. (in my case niece & nephews.) even if i hopefully wind up coupled, my surviving partner would benefit from trust but after his death the principal returns to family.

i for one did count on inheritance as my mother's alzheimer's in large part directed my career decisions for the last 13 years of my working life. instead of climbing the corporate ladder of which i was well on the way, i stayed close to home. before that i worked for family. my brother later took over the business so mom could work well into the progression of her disease. this family has always operated as a unit and we all gained a lot from that. death does not stop it.
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Old 12-31-2007, 10:23 AM   #29
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. . . the will is more an instrument of emotional blackmail than an estate-planning tool.
Good to know that it isn't just my family. My grandmother, who is in control of a substantial (though not Hilton-esque) estate uses the will as a method of trying to control the family. If I have to hear one more time, "If you don't do this for me, I'm going to leave all my money to [insert whatever charity is on her mind at the moment.]" I may scream.

I'm not financially secure enough to not need the money, but I'm not about to be used and abused for the chance to someday inherit a portion of her estate. We had one serious conversation about money when she sold her Florida home. I told her that I thought she should spend her money to enjoy her life while she's still here. She scoffed at me and started in on the "who's in the will, who won't be in the will" speech. I considered banging my head against my desk and was really glad that we were on the phone so that she couldn't see the look on my face.

Edited: My English, not so good today.
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Old 12-31-2007, 01:09 PM   #30
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If I have to hear one more time, "If you don't do this for me, I'm going to leave all my money to [insert whatever charity is on her mind at the moment.]" I may scream.

I'm not financially secure enough to not need the money.
There have been numerous threads on this board regarding the advantages of being FI. We all know the main advantages such as freedom from obligation to employers, ability to control life's direction and so on and so forth. I'd like to add that a huge advantage of being FI is not having to feel obligated to an older relative in order to "stay in the will" and older relatives not feeling obligated to determine "fair estate distributions."

My dad was the only relative from whom I received a penny of inheritance, and it was quite modest and shared with some folks I'd not have guessed would be in his will. But he had money enough to take care of himself and required nothing financial from me. In retrospect, it was wonderful that our relationship was 100% based on father - son love and respect and zero % on financial concerns.

Once or twice, in his final years, I helped him with some financial matters, but this concerned managing his money for his benefit. I can't remember any circumstances of money transfer beyond token gifts back and forth. New braces for my son? I paid for them. Expensive car repair for Dad? He paid for it.

Reading the concurrent threads regarding wills, estates, etc., on this board, from the point of view of both the givers and the receivers, I'm reminded of just how fortunate our "no financial ties relationship" was.

Wanderluster - if there is anyway you can pull yourself above your financial concerns in your relationship with your grandmother, I'd bet you'd be a happier person for it.
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Old 12-31-2007, 02:47 PM   #31
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Wanderluster - if there is anyway you can pull yourself above your financial concerns in your relationship with your grandmother, I'd bet you'd be a happier person for it.
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One of my main reasons for wanting to get to FI is because I've seen how money issues have torn my extended family apart. I'm only 25 and just finished my first year in the workforce. I'm fairly confident that within the next couple years I'll be on more solid financial ground which should make the temptation easier to resist. It's difficult, because it feels like every interaction in that side of the family revolves around the inheritance, which just feels so disingenuous to me.

I've really tried to rise above it (although I don't always do as well as I'd like). One of my new year's resolutions is to spend more time with both of my grandmothers (I'm finally starting to learn that life is so SHORT) and I'm hoping to do that without worrying about financial implications/how each of my family members is going to react. I think if I were a better person, it wouldn't occur to me to view my family members' actions as being so pecuniary in motive. I guess all I can do is work to try to be that better person and let them be however they are going to be.
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Old 12-31-2007, 03:19 PM   #32
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Wanderluster.......

Your response is very impressive and I admire your attitude and insight into all of this. Just the fact that you didn't take offense or become defensive at my comments/observations indicates you're a person who will handle life's tough issues thoughtfully and successfully.

The best to you in 2008!
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Old 12-31-2007, 05:27 PM   #33
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A couple of thoughts for the OP.

My sister's inlaws had a similar problem. Three sons, two good kids, and one black sheep a hardcore druggie. The estate was divided more less equally, but my sister husband was given the duty of acting as the executor of the spendthrift trust for his kid brother. He was ok with the duty, but it hasn't been without his problems. Within weeks of his mom dying the black sheep was using some of his estate to be bailed out of jail.

FWIW, I go along with divided up the estate equally (less what ever you want to leave to charity). Your son has enough execuses for failure without say my dad didn't love me the SOB even cut me out of his will.
If your daughter or even brother-in-law are willing to supervise the spending that is an option, but make sure you ask them before burdening them with that duty.

Alternatively, hiring a lawyer to deal with this maybe a good choice. It will cost you but perhaps it is money well spent.
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Old 12-31-2007, 06:57 PM   #34
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Add a clause in the will that if he ends up on Medicaid or SSI that the money go to a special needs trust for his benefit.
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Old 01-01-2008, 11:13 AM   #35
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Good to know that it isn't just my family. My grandmother, who is in control of a substantial (though not Hilton-esque) estate uses the will as a method of trying to control the family. If I have to hear one more time, "If you don't do this for me, I'm going to leave all my money to [insert whatever charity is on her mind at the moment.]" I may scream.
i had a step-grandmother like that. though everyone in the family kept their distance from her, mom & i treated her completely like family even though she was odd. after grandpa died of alzheimer's, we learned that she'd both had his will changed and altered the house deed. (everything was supposed to go to his two kids with the stipulation that they take care of step-grandmother.) but mom didn't even bother with it. eventually step-grandmother would isolate herself from my mother. i kept contact as she was my grandma baking me fresh bread & cakes since i was 8 years old.

supposedly we shared the same birthday (i don't even believe that now). i was in my 20s and went to take her out for our birthday lunch. out of the blue she went ballistic on me. told me terrible untrue things. then she uttered the line that ended our relationship "the only reason you love me is because i snuck dollar bills into your hand when you were a child." yikes. broke my heart. i left her house crying and never returned.

from what i heard she then married a wife beater, the black & blue kind. she died about 8 years later with his family inheriting my grandfather's estate. the worst of all that is they got my real grandmother's cookie jar. a stupid little ugly thing that i loved. evil step-grandmother should rot in hell.
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Old 01-01-2008, 12:42 PM   #36
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I have a wealthy sister much like what WanderLuster describes. Family members have concluded that there is no price worth a close relationship with her. At a certain level I feel sorry for her in that she must feel that she must buy friendship. However, I don't feel sorry enough to expose myself to her treacherous behavior.
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Old 01-03-2008, 12:02 PM   #37
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when you get really old put your house in her name too.
Careful here. I think this qualifies as a (possibly taxable) gift.
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Old 01-03-2008, 12:04 PM   #38
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Sounds like every one has bent over backwards to help this problem son and he has repaid everyones generosity with indifference,The guy sounds like a total free loading mooch and will stay that way as long as your family keeps making it easy for him...I'd go with the
"what you sow so shall you reap" attitude and in this case the the boy gets no harvest.
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Old 01-03-2008, 12:16 PM   #39
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We are writing wills right now using legal insurance from 2006 which covers the attorney fees.

I did some homework on other boards, here is what I was told

1) if you are going to exclude someone, have it written into the will. There are examples of siblings or children contesting wills because their name was not mentioned. By making the person specifically excluded, it removes this possibility. Very important if one child dies before another and the surviving child might be the bad apple- you need a provision for this.

2) you have much older children (our first two kids are due in June). Consider needs of kids and what money would be used for.
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Old 01-04-2008, 07:41 PM   #40
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As long as someone like your brother is taking care of him it is not likely that he is going to change. It appears drugs, alcohol are an important part of his life. Any money you leave him is likely to continue to support his current lifestyle. The one I feel for is your grandchild and, if any money is left, it should go to him\her in such a way that your son can't get his hands on. Although your daughter says she doesn't need anything, that probably is what most good kids would tell their dad. I know that is what my daughter would tell me under the same situation. It sounds cruel but we parents can only do so much and then our kids have to step up to the plate and it is obvious that your son doesn't have any plans on doing that.
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