Beyond the Grave: The Right Way and the Wrong Way of Leaving Money to Your Children and Others


A loved one's death is painful enough. Why should your survivors suffer more by squabbling over their inheritance? Beyond the Grave is the first book to show you how to:

  • Prevent common family bickering that arises when parents die
  • Protect your child's inheritance from an ex-spouse, creditor, cult, or ...
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A loved one's death is painful enough. Why should your survivors suffer more by squabbling over their inheritance? Beyond the Grave is the first book to show you how to:

  • Prevent common family bickering that arises when parents die
  • Protect your child's inheritance from an ex-spouse, creditor, cult, or addiction
  • Compel your children to share their inheritance when they couldn't share their toys
  • Divide the family home without dividing your family
  • Protect your surviving spouse from pushy kids, greedy caretakers, and charming cheats
  • Leave more to your family and less to Uncle Sam
  • Prevent a charity from using your donation to buy Cadillacs for its executives

Beyond the Grave factors human nature into estate planning, with common sense and "tough love" advice for making tough but loving decisions concerning the welfare of our survivors through life -- and beyond death. It's a must-have, before it's too late.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887307973
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.29 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald M. Condon, Esq.(right), a noted trusts and estates lawyer, practices law with his son and coauthor Jeffrey L. Condon, Esq.(left), at Condon, Condon & Festa, based in Santa Monica, California.

Jeffrey L. Condon, Esq. has been practicing in trust, estate, and probate law since 1987 at the Law Offices of Condon & Condon in Santa Monica, California. He is also the author of The Living Trust Advisor and has conducted over three hundred family-inheritance-planning talks and seminars throughout the United States for numerous businesses, financial institutions, charities, brokerage firms, insurance companies, social clubs, and service organizations.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

What This Book Will Do for Youor
Why Learn the Hard Way — When You Can Read This Book?

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...

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Table of Contents

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
Index 351
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