By Harry J. Lenaburg, Esq.
It is human nature for us to hope that we will be able to leave a legacy behind for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. In doing so it is important for us to think ahead and carefully plan for the distribution of our assets. Such assets may include bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts (401(K), IRA), real estate, and also more personal items such as a memorabilia collection or keepsake items with no potential cash value but value to a family member.
Two important thoughts come to mind. First, and unfortunately, the passing of an individual often results in family rifts and feuds over even the most seemingly inconsequential items, especially keepsake items. It is in every ones’ best interest that a list of such items, identifying who is to receive what, is prepared, so that your wishes as to the distribution of these items is documented in writing, not by “mom told me I could have this” or “dad said this would be mine”.
Secondly, when leaving bank accounts or other liquid assets it is imperative that you give thought to the age of the recipient. Is your child or grandchild sufficiently prepared to receive a substantial sum in cash at age 18? I submit that proper planning includes your giving thought to the impact such a sudden influx of cash to an 18 year old could lead to. In the absence of a trust of other estate planning device all of the cash or assets you leave to that child or grandchild must be paid over to the child once he or she reaches 18.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you to devise a plan that will minimize family conflicts, and also protect your late teenage or early adult children or grandchildren from what might be seen as a ruinous influx of cash before that child is ready to manage their funds.
The Law Firm of Jessica M. Cotter, P.L.L.C.
18301 North 79th Avenue, Suite F-168
Glendale, Arizona 85308