A Missouri couple might want to avoid creating situations that would cause disputes among their children after they are gone, but good intentions can have unanticipated results, especially if there is a perception that one or more of the children have been treated unfairly. These issues can lead to legal squabbles that could eradicate a portion of one’s estate while also cultivating greater animosity. Careful planning may be necessary to minimize the potential for such disputes.
Pot trusts have been used in estate planning to create a vehicle for distributing assets among children. However, these types of trusts often provide the trustee with the ability to distribute funds based on needs of the children. This may not result in an equal share for each heir, which could add to negative feelings. In creating different trusts, the issue of partiality on the part of a trustee can be avoided. If parents intend to help a child who has experienced serious financial challenges, the ideal time to do so would be during their life to avoid the appearance of unfairness in an estate plan.
A family property such as a vacation home can create a variety of problems, especially if the parents leave the property to their children jointly. Although there may be a great deal of sentiment tied to such a location, there could be significant financial burdens in trying to maintain it. It may be best to liquidate this type of asset while still living to save children the grief and stress of having to part with it or figure out how to care for it later.
Because every family’s dynamics are unique, it may be helpful to work with an estate planning lawyer to discuss one’s goals. A lawyer may have recommendations for creating independent trusts for each child or for handling certain unique assets in a will or trust.
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