Our team at Willingham Law Firm, PC believes you shouldn’t use your
estate and your assets to try and burden your children and/or heirs’
lives. Yes, it is your money and your property; it took a life’s
worth of work, sweat and toil to build up the assets that you may have.
However, that doesn’t mean you should use the process of posterity
planning to overwhelm how your children and grandchildren will subsequently
live the rest of their lives.
Posterity planning is about nurturing your family, fostering a legacy of
values, beliefs and practices. For example, if you are eager to see your
child marry, you likely envision the perfect wedding, future grandchildren,
and the happiness and fulfillment that ultimately come with seeing your
offspring happily ensconced in wedded bliss. Therefore, in your estate
planning, you provide for the wedding day because you want to be a part
of the day and help your son or daughter--even if you’re not around
to witness the moment. This is an incredibly common occurrence, and many
people choose to provide for their children in a number of ways.
However, there are variations of this situation. If you go a step beyond
this and insist your child marry someone to your liking who meets your
standards, or conversely, that they don’t marry a specific person.
This is exactly the kind of behavior our legal team advises against. We
believe you should be careful not use money, assets, or the promise of
property to unduly burden our loved ones from beyond. This isn’t
preserving your inheritance, nor is it creating anything beneficial for
the family members affected. This is simply being willful and blinded
by stubbornness--this approach does far more harm than good.
Mother Knows Best
“I told my mother-in-law that my house was her house, and she said,
'Get the hell off my property.’” Joan Rivers
One of my wealthiest clients hated her daughter-in-law, and she wanted
to draft her trust to only allow her son to inherit upon their divorce.
As her trusted McKinney family lawyer, I advised her on what may happen
if she followed through with this proposal. Her son could circumvent her
intentions by filing for divorce, but still living with the daughter-in-law,
in addition to other various creative scenarios available. Additionally,
this type of condition may be declared invalid. In order to understand
why she was determined to cause a divorce, I engaged in a series of discussions
with my client. It was during this time I discovered her animosity was,
in some part, based on the fear her daughter-in-law would spend all the
money, as my client believed she had already caused one bankruptcy. After
more discussion, I convinced her not to include a divorce clause, which
had the potential for litigation.
Her next option was to give everything to her other child. To avoid this,
I had her do a visual exercise. I asked her to imagine her funeral, with
her daughter walking in and sees her brother. Her daughter already knows
that she gets everything. What does the daughter do? Does she give it
to her brother to mend the hard feelings or does she honor her mother’s
wishes? My client thought about it, looked at me, and said “You’re
good. I see. My daughter would, after all, give him his half.”
Thereafter, I offered a few different options, most of which consisted
of creating trusts benefitting her son and naming a third party as trustee.
One option would be to create a trust providing the son would only get
a monthly income. However, my client didn’t like the idea because
she did not want her daughter-in-law to enjoy any of her money. Another
option was to give the son’s half in trust to his children for their
education with the remainder to be used for the grandchildren’s
support--an idea she loved. It took care of her son to a degree, without
her daughter-in-law receiving actual money. In this case, my client certainly
proved a tough nut to crack; ultimately, I did get her to see that trying
to cause a divorce from the grave by virtue of a clause wasn’t helping anyone.
Contact Our McKinney Family Attorneys Today
As you can see, posterity planning is certainly an emotional, complicated,
and contentious time in one’s life. This is why our McKinney family
lawyers of Willingham Law Firm, PC want to do everything in our power
to advise you on the best course of action. Planning while angry, bitter,
or upset, is only going to splinter relationships and wreak havoc on your
family. This is why our trusted legal team will work tirelessly to advocate
for what is best for you and your family above all else.
Speak to a member of our team by calling us at (214) 499-9647.