Author Topic: Estate Planning question.  (Read 2329 times)

kite

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Estate Planning question.
« on: May 06, 2014, 07:25:54 AM »
We are a childless couple who need to update our estate plan.  Between us, we have several siblings and step-siblings along with, literally,  dozens of neices and nephews.  As I'm sure is common in most families,  we are closer to some than others.  There are some who face considerable hardship and others who are set for life.  We are debating the merits of leaving unequal amounts, including leaving some out entirely against treating every one the same and leaving an equal share to everyone who fits our definition of family.   The latter would mean that money we earned would go to support things we abhor or partly offset an old tax obligation - things we would not pay for while living.
We have experience with a great aunt who left over 80 of us each 1% of her estate and the rest to charity.   And another relative who left generous,  but unequal amounts according to need.  The second one, perpetuated a rift among siblings that never healed and it is not something we'd want to cause.

How would you approach?

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Estate Planning question.
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2014, 10:37:40 AM »
I would do everything you can to not cause a rift. Maybe consider an equal share in your will, but do everything you can to quietly give disproportionate amounts during your lifetime. Make sure it comes with the caveat that you don't want them to discuss the gift with their cousins.

Annual gift exclusions are $14K/person/year, so you can give up to $28K (as a married couple) to one person. If that person is married, you can also give $28K to their spouse. Anything over that in a single year would require a gift tax return and eat into your lifetime exemption, but that's $5,340,000/person so you have a lot of flexibility.

Obviously don't deplete your stash to a level where you don't have the means to carry on as you've grown accustomed to.

Catbert

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Re: Estate Planning question.
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2014, 12:05:13 PM »
I've dealt with something similar.  I have no biological children; however, I do have grown step-children, step grandchildren, sisters, SILs, and nieces and nephews.  I've left money evenly between siblings and step-children.  In life I've set up 529s for step-grandchildren, nieces and nephews with even contributions. 

While I'm closer to some relatives than others and some are in better financial circumstances than others, there was no one I wanted to send a "fuck you" message.  I think that's how dividing up unevenly would be taken by many.  I could envision circumstances when I would change this - a permanently disabled relative might get more or someone who takes care of me in my old age.   

CommonCents

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Re: Estate Planning question.
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2014, 04:24:30 PM »
Set up trusts?  Or leave a letter explaining why you've chosen to give as you have. That's what my Trusts and Estates prof recommended for when folks were leaving a child out of a will (rather than explain in the will).

bearkat

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Re: Estate Planning question.
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2014, 04:57:24 PM »
If you have life insurance (from your pre-mustaschian days), you could always make 1 or more of your relatives the beneficiary, and then leave the rest of your assets evenly in your will. I only mention life insurance because I believe (though I could be wrong) that it can be distributed separately and discretely from your other property in your will. What cousin Louie doesn't hurt him, right?

DollarBill

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Re: Estate Planning question.
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2014, 05:33:04 PM »
If the considerable hardships you speak of something that they brought on themselves then I would keep it equal. If it was something out of their control then I could see bumping their share. I think they would understand why but it would be good to leave an explanation.

I've never received an inheritance and don't think I'll be getting one...all are spendthrifts. My Dad remarried to younger woman and spends every dollar that comes his way. My Mom does well but it's a gov pension...maybe some equity in the house. I'm sure she will eventually move in with me since I will be retired before anyone else and will have the time to take care of her. Would anyone like to adopt me?? lol