Estate Planning -- cont

kknyNovember 6, 2008

Previous one ran up to 150 -- no more posts.

I think every situation is different -- same % to dads kids v. SM kids may not be fair, considering a lot of variables, such as lenght of marriage, whose assets.

In the end, this like everything else should be discussed before hand.

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KK, you know how I feel (it's basically how you feel) but I'm just going to reiterate my $.02 on this subject for the newer posters. Here's my summary of how I feel about this, as to what is fairest:

-No one should get thrown out on the street. Surviving spouse should have house free and clear as long as s/he lives there. If s/he decides to move, it then becomes a question of whether parent wants to write will to provide share in profits from sale to children also. If house is the ONLY asset, then no remainder should go to kids since most or all will presumably be needed to purchase comparable new house. If house is one asset among many, there is option for parent to decide that kids should share in all assets, ensuring, of course, that there is enough to provide for spouse remaining in comparable house.

-In blended families with more than adequate means, there are enough assets where there is no reason it HAS to be an "all-or-nothing" scenario. In these cases, it's just inviting discontent and trouble to insist that one party has to get ALL of the estate and other parties have to get NONE.

-yes, there is a difference between families with means and families without means. In families without means, splitting sale of house may very well mean that spouse is rendered homeless. In families with means, leaving everything to spouse may very well mean plastic surgery, trips to Europe and designer clothes & bathrooms for footloose & fancy-free spouse and decades of bills, dead-end drudgery and debt for hard-working children (and their children). NOT FAIR, I don't care how anyone wants to couch it, and not comparable to a situation with actual hardships. ESPECIALLY if this scenario is not what Dad would have wanted or envisioned when he trusted his spouse to be a fair and reasonable 'steward' of his hard-won assets.

-If supposedly it's "all about what Dad wants", then LISTEN to him and ACCEPT it. If he says (when he's in sound body/mind, and especially if he says it numerous times over several years) that he wants everything to go to to wife, kids have to accept that. If he says he wants everything to go to kids, wife has to accept it.

-No one should try to change "what Dad wants". Neither kids nor wife have right to TRY to do so. Sometimes wives and/or kids feel like by virtue of their particular place in his life, they are more entitled to try and influence not only his decisions but even his FEELINGS and thus even what he WANTS. This is wrong, not to mention daunting.

-But the subject should not be completely taboo. The key difference is *discussion* vs. *demands*. Wife and kids may raise their concerns and hope Dad takes these into consideration. Hopefully one conversation will suffice to lay the concerns on the table (but when another party is relentlessly and repeatedly manipulating the situation from the other side this becomes more challenging). Pushing the issue repeatedly and forcefully becomes manipulation, coersion and soemtimes abuse. It is wrong, no matter who it's coming from: ex-wife, lawyer, kid, current wife. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

-Simply put: SM is not Mom. Second marriages, in estate planning, have to be considered differently than first marriages. In first marriage, wife is *MOM*. Mom (if she's like most, good and caring) protects and secures her childrens' future. SM may or may not and most often doesn't after Dad dies. It's a fact. Ask estate lawyers, or go looking up other forums on the internet discussing stepfamilies and inheritance. They're generally not discussing ways to ensure the step-kids get their due. If anyone on here can find me ONE example of a step-parent discussing how they can better ensure their stepchildren's future inheritance, I will send you 20 bucks.

-In my opinion, in blended family situations where there are above-adequate means, fairest is to split everything between wife & kids. Perhaps provide proportionately more to spouse, relative to how many years older they are than oldest kid since they will likely have more medical issues and become decreasingly employable after a certain age. First make sure that no one is rendered homeless and that none of the survivors have to pay each other's debts.

-if Dad leaves all to wife, hoping wife will leave remainder to kids, it won't happen. (Same might be true if everything is left to kids to distribute to wife.) Could be passed down to surviving wife's existing family, or her new family, or spent on drugs, clothes, QVC, stuff for new babies, plastic surgery, or mismanaged or otherwise G-O-N-E by the time she passes and children (age 70+) need it for their own medical bills, retirement, etc.

-Too often kids of divorce get screwed over by the cruel irony of exactly this sort of situation, and here's how: Dad's new wife claims she should get *everything* because in first marriages, that is often how it goes: all to surviving spouse. But fails to remember the next step of that traditional pattern: when surviving PARENT passes, remainder goes to children. The parent's OWN children, that is. Step-parents also often argue that their step-children shouldn't be in their spouse's will because ---PRESUMABLY--- kids will inherit from the other parent. (Or even their grandparents, as some arguments go.) All the while, in the same breath, voicing the mantra of "one shouldn't presume anything" or expect anything from parents as a way to justify THIS parent cutting the kid out. Incidentally, many of these same step-parents can and do expect to receive an inheritance from their own parents, and much sooner than their stepchildren will receive anything from anyone.

-If Dad leaves ALL to anybody, he better want it all to stay with that individual forever. In an ideal world, we can trust people with this sort of thing. In the real world, we often can't. There are ways to make it so he doesn't have to CHOOSE one party or the other. In my heart, I feel that unless he hates his wife or kids, if he has to choose in this matter he will be just as torn and not-at-peace as he may have been all his life with other matters he may have been unnaturally and unnecessarily coerced into choosing one-or-the-other about.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 5:34PM
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My dad is a financial planner so we have dealt with a lot of this recently.

If DH dies--the house, since we bought it together, will obviously stay with me. He has a life insurance policy that will go to SS--my dad helped us set it up so it's in trust for him when he turns 25. There is a trustee that would be responsible for paying expenses while SS is still a minor and in college.

DH also has a second life insurance policy that would go to me.

My mom remarried, and I don't know anything about her will. I do wonder. My mom is well-off of her own accord from her divorce from my dad. But my grandparents are REALLY LOADED--they must be worth at least 20 million and I don't know how that would work...let's say gparents die, my mom inherits...then say my mom dies years later and who inherits? Me or her husband? I don't know. It is odd to think about because her husband (who she married 2 years ago) has two adult daughters...funny to think if mom's husband got the money, that money could theoretically go to THEM and not me or my brother. Wow.

It has crossed my mind but I love and trust my mom. She is a very astute woman, especially when it comes to finances, and I am sure she has arranged things accordingly.

Money....can cause so many problems!!!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 6:30PM
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"-if Dad leaves all to wife, hoping wife will leave remainder to kids, it won't happen."

Maybe not in your case, but in mine it will. We have been married 23 years, DH has 3 grown children, I have 3 grown children. Our will leaves EVERYTHING to the surviving spouse. Then whomever that is will split whatever is left between each side, with the exception of 2 houses that I bought with inheritance from my parents, going to mine only. He has no inheritence. I had money when we married, he had none but his salary was more than mine so it evens out pretty well. Neither of us worry if the other will actually do that, nor I'm confident do any of the 6 kids worry about it. We're pretty decent people and neither us or our children are greedy. I love my skids and have no desire to give my bios what doesn't belong to them. We own 4 houses with no mortgages as well as savings so no one will get left out unless we have expensive health problems and have to spend it all.

As for my side of the equation, I keep wondering if I should do it differently than is previously in the will. Please weigh in if you have an opinion. My DS (33) has nothing to do with his BD with good reason. From the age of 12 until sometime in his 20's his BD never picked him up for visitation, never called, no cards, nothing. Then at some point when he was probably 25 his BD decided to try to see him and my DS wanted nothing to do with him. My ex has probably as much money as my DH and I do, maybe more and from what he told my DD it is to go to her and her sister (this is IF the new girlfriend mentioned in the other post doesn't play into this). My DS has told me he wants nothing BD has. This doesn't seem exactly fair to me so I keep wondering if I should compensate for this and leave him more than the girls. I don't want the girls to think I love him more than them but I also don't think it's fair that they should end up with so much more than him. My DH says if I predecease him he will make sure my DS gets more. Any thoughts on this?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2008 at 9:56PM
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My stepmom's kids get nothing except a lifetime of guilt.(if they have any conscience)

This is such a touchy topic because every situation is different. The variables of who had what first, what was acquired together or separate, length of marriage, ages of kids, what kind of relationship the child has with the parent, how the parent feels or what they wish to do with THEIR money/assets, and probably a ton of other variables. There is no blanket answer or right/wrong way. It comes down to what each person wants to do with what they have. I can agree with KKNY that the parties need to communicate these things up front & if the parent wants to ensure their child/ren are taken care of or receive what they want to leave them, they need to take the steps to ensure it. If a parent doesn't take those steps & the new spouse gets it all because there is no will, etc., then the assumption would be that the parent wanted to leave it to their spouse, not their kids. In the case of minor children, they should take priority over a spouse if there is no will. I'm not sure what the laws are but minor children should ALWAYS be first.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 12:12AM
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I think it is important to state, as others have, that every situation IS different.

These were some comments that I feel are just so generalized it is crazy.

"Simply put: SM is not Mom. Second marriages, in estate planning, have to be considered differently than first marriages. In first marriage, wife is *MOM*. Mom (if she's like most, good and caring) protects and secures her childrens' future. SM may or may not and most often doesn't after Dad dies. It's a fact."

This may happen often in situations where dad is rich and wife is new and does not like SKs. However, there are other situations, like mine, where in fact I am a mom to my dh's child and any more we have. I am also a stepmom to his son and have been for many years. I am not sure why you say that SM won't take care of SKs after dad dies. I feel that you are assuming that all second wives are all young, gold digging, tennis playing bimbos that just married dh for money. This is not always true and certainly not in my situation.

"In my opinion, in blended family situations where there are above-adequate means, fairest is to split everything between wife & kids"

Really, and what about if the kids are very young?? Young enough that the parents need that money to pay the bills and provide for them?

"if Dad leaves all to wife, hoping wife will leave remainder to kids, it won't happen. (Same might be true if everything is left to kids to distribute to wife.) Could be passed down to surviving wife's existing family, or her new family, or spent on drugs, clothes, QVC, stuff for new babies, plastic surgery, or mismanaged or otherwise G-O-N-E by the time she passes and children (age 70+) need it for their own medical bills, retirement, etc."

Adult children should not NEED the inheritance. It is hoped and expected that we raise our kids to be able to take care of themselves and not depend on our money after we have spent years caring for them and putting them through college. When my parents went over their will with me my dad told me if I die first your mother gets EVERYTHING. If she dies first I get EVERYTHING. If we die together you and your brothers will get equal amounts. This is how it should be. My mom should get everything so she can live her life in grand fashion doing everything THEY had planned on and worked for.

In my situation I would NEVER leave my SS out in the cold. However, I certainly would not hand over 100,000 dollars to his mom and say here this is for the next eight years. No way I am sorry, but I do not trust her and neither does my dh. I would get all the insurance money. I would pay off any of my dh's outstanding debt. I would put EQUAL money into a fund for my kids (yes including my DSS). We set it up so that if, God forbid, something were to happen to my young and healthy husband I would have enough to raise the kids and pay the bills long enough that I could go out and go back to school and earn more money. My dh and I have spent the first part of our marriage putting him through pharmacy school so he is our main bread winner at the present. I would need time to get out their and start making enough money to support our family the way he is at present.

Every situation is different, but my husband and his ex were barely out of high school when they got pregnant and then married and SS was a toddler when they split. They essentially had nothing but a home which she did not want. A year later we started dating and two years after we started dating we married. I have been with him when he had nothing and I worked full time so that he could concentrate on school. I paid his child support and did most of the travel to get SS for our visitation. WE just bought a home together and got more life insurance. He has stated that it is all to go to me and he trusts me that I would take care of his son. I would not hand ex a stack a cash, but I would increase the child support, continue to take care of medical expenses, school clothes, activities, and travel. SS already has a nice college account thanks to his gparents, but I would start an account for him and my daughter.

I think some of you are drawing lines in families that are not always there. My dh and I have been together longer and married for double the time that he and his ex were. WE have built everything WE have together so I in no way feel like ex is entitled to a lump sum of money, however, SS is entitled, just as our daughter is, to being taken care of and they both would be.

However, I totaly plan on my dh living a long time and am also planning that we live long enough that WE spend all of our money having fun in retirement.

Kind of a morbid topic!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 9:24AM
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All situation are different. i agree to that and yes it should be discussed before marriage. I made my intentions clear and that i would not waver. My dh also put his 2 cents and we agreed. Anything we acquire in this marriage goes to our children that we willl have together. (if his kids had lived with us, then there would be adjustments, but the house we will own goes toour kids either way) His kids have the house from the previous marriage and so the new one will stay with our child or children. As for money, he can do whatever he wants. He can split it among all the kids, give it only to one child, give it to his children from the previous marriage...i dont care , that is his money to do as he pleases. But he split it 50 50 between me and all the kids.
As for my money that i have and whatever family heirlooms have been passed to me will be passed to my children.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 6:40AM
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