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Based on the psychology of family dynamics and written by a father-and-son team of lawyers who specialize in estate planning, this book's goal is to prevent conflict and preserve family relationships after the death of the parents. The myriad considerations in estate planning--taxes, division of wealth, trusts, creditors, etc.--are addressed with compassion and insight.
Some attorneys are in the business of helping you accumulate money and property. I am in the business of transferring your lifetime of accumulations to your children and/or other heirs after you die. In short, what I do is create inheritance plans.
An inheritance plan speaks for you "from the grave." Often it will be in the form of a Will. Sometimes it takes the shape of a Living Trust. It could be as simple as a single written sentence or as complex as a hundred-page instruction manual.
Whatever the form, an inheritance plan boils down to one purpose: It is your instructions as to who inherits your money and property, when they inherit, and on what conditions they inherit.
In my thirty-five years of practice, I have created inheritance plans for hundreds of clients. Of course, my clients, being dead, will never know the outcome of these plans. I, however, serve as their "periscope from the grave." I witness firsthand the impact of my advice and judgment calls on my clients' children, spouses, and other heirs.
As an inheritance-planning lawyer, I have seen a lot of these plans play out over time—both mine and those of my colleagues. And what have I seen? On most occasions, it is the smooth transition of wealth from client to heir, from spouse to spouse, from parent to child to grandchild. The client dies, the inheritance plan is read, the money and property is distributed, and life goes on.
Many times, however, an inheritance plan "goes sour," leaving bitter family legacies.
I have seen plansunintentionally result in battles between disgruntled and combative heirs. I have watched helplessly as "sound" inheritance advice of years ago inadvertently create chasms between children that may never be bridged. I have read the inheritance instructions of Wills and Living Trusts that seemed well conceived on paper, but in practice left legacies of conflict and chaos.
I have, in essence, learned that there is a right way and a wrong way of leaving money and property to spouses, children, grandchildren, and other heirs. You, however, do not have to learn the hard way. That is why I wrote this book. The stories and examples I describe may point out inheritance conflicts that could arise in your family, with strategies you can implement to avoid them.
Inheritance planning, however, is more than just preventing and resolving inheritance conflicts. It is also recognizing the numerous other inheritance problems that may rear their ugly heads. And as the old saying goes, recognizing a problem is 95 percent of its solution.
When I started in this business, I simply could not fathom the myriad problems and risks that often surface in inheritance situations. After thirty-five years of seeing "what happens" when wealth is transferred to heirs, I believe I have witnessed the entire parade of horribles.
I have seen the surviving spouse who lost the family money to the last caretaker.
I have seen the daughter who lost her inheritance to her husband in a divorce.
I have seen the son whose business creditors "ate up" his entire inheritance.
I have seen the charity that used my client's money to buy Cadillacs for its directors.
I have seen clients' hard-earned money and property end up with their daughters-in-law's second husbands.
I have seen the children who had to give the IRS one-half of their inheritance in death taxes.
I have seen the daughter who magnanimously bestowed her entire inheritance to a cult.
I have seen the son who was supposed to handle his disabled sibling's share of the inheritance but who instead put it in his own pocket and walked away.
In this book, I will open your eyes as mine have been opened. I will show you the many fates that may befall your family. I will bring your attention to problems and issues in inheritance planning that you may not have otherwise considered. I will show you risks your money and property could be subject to once they are in the hands of your children, spouse, or other heirs.
By making you aware of these problems and giving you solutions, you can avoid the traps that so often hurt those whom you sought only to help...
|Preface, or Read This Before You Begin This Bookä|
|1||What This Book Will Do for You||3|
|2||The Journey from Innocence to Reality||6|
|3||Why an Inheritance Plan?||9|
|4||If You Do Nothing, the Law Will Do It for You||13|
|5||The Unequal Inheritance||19|
|6||The Power Struggle||30|
|7||Don't Die with Your Children Owing You Money||36|
|8||Protecting the Inheritance While It's in the Hands of Your Child||47|
|9||Protecting the Money for the Financially Immature Child||54|
|10||Protecting the Inheritance from Your Child's Spouse||63|
|11||Protecting the Inheritance for the Disabled Child||75|
|12||Protecting the Inheritance from Your Child's Creditors||82|
|13||Cutting Out a Child from Your Will or Trust||89|
|14||Are Your Children Spending Their Inheritance - and You're Not Dead Yet?||99|
|15||How to Control Your Child's Life from the Grave||105|
|16||Who Should Be Your Child's Trustee?||111|
|17||Your Underage Child's Guardian||122|
|18||How to Leave Your Valuables and Household Contents to Your Children||133|
|19||Planning for the Succession of the Family Business||140|
|20||The Family Residence||150|
|21||Dividing Your Real Estate Investments||163|
|22||Protecting Your Surviving Spouse's Ownership and Control of the "Family Money"||169|
|23||Protecting the Surviving Parent from "Grasping Children"||171|
|24||Who Controls the Money and Property for the Incapacitated or Incompetent Surviving Spouse?||182|
|25||Does Your Wife Want to Manage the Family Money?||194|
|26||You May Leave Everything to Your Spouse - But Will Your Spouse Leave Everything to Your Children?||201|
|27||The Potential Battle Between Children of Your First Marriage and Your Second Wife||209|
|28||If You Are on Your Second Marriage, Who Will Get Your Half If You Die First - Your Children or the Children of Your Second Spouse?||214|
|29||Grandparents to the Rescue!||225|
|30||Including Your Grandchildren in Your Inheritance Plan||235|
|31||How You Can Die "Knowing" Your Pet Will Live Comfortably for the Rest of His Life||249|
|32||Leaving Your Money and Property to a Charity||254|
|33||"How Does the IRS Know How Much I'm Worth When I Die?"||269|
|34||Pay the Death Tax or Fight Back - Which One Sounds Like You?||275|
|35||How to Leave More to Your Children and Less to the IRS||279|
|36||I Can Get Your Death Tax Wholesale||294|
|37||Your Money Is Taxed a Second Time When Your Child Dies||298|
|38||Using the Living Trust to Keep Your Children and Property Out of the Probate Court||305|
|39||Don't Put Your House in Joint Tenancy with Your Child||312|
|40||Can You Leave Your Child an Inheritance Without Disqualifying Him from SSI?||323|
|41||What Your Children May Want to Know About Your Will or Living Trust||329|
|42||So You've Received an Inheritance - Now What Do You Do?||335|
|43||How to Prevent Your Siblings from Taking Your Share of Your Expected Inheritance||339|
|44||Get Your Parents' Names Off Title to Your House||344|
|Final Thought: "Should I Tell My Children About My Inheritance Plan?"||349|