Don't Unduly Burden Your Loved Ones from the Grave

Our team at Willingham Law Firm, PC.┬ábelieves 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.