How To Disinherit Your Children Without Even Trying

December 2, 2016

What if you accidentally disinherited your children? It happens more often than you might think. Read the fictional scenario below and learn from our sample client Bob’s mistakes. 

The situation:
Bob and Sue* married 30 years ago. At the time they married they had little property and opened their checking account and investment account in joint tenancy since that made handling finances easier. 

After 10 more years, Sue was involved in a car accident and died. Bob grieved but finally found a lovely woman, Cindy, whom he married. Both of them had children from previous marriages. 

It became apparent to them that it was easier to own property, checking accounts and investment accounts in joint tenancy. Bob never consulted an attorney because he was quite busy. Cindy kept her primary accounts separate from Bob’s and labeled them “Transfer on Death” to her children. 

Family relationships were good and the children enjoyed family get-togethers.  

The problem: 
In several years, Bob was diagnosed with cancer and quickly became feeble and unable to make financial decisions for himself. Cindy managed their combined resources well. Bob was unable to beat the cancer and died only a short time after the diagnosis.

After Bob’s death, his children started asking questions about the financial situation. With Bob’s assets in joint tenancy, Cindy became the owner at his death. Bob had assumed that his children would inherit his assets. Soon his children sued Cindy. Family relationships suffered and legal fees grew. Bob had failed to plan and the consequences were dramatic financially and emotionally.  

The solution:
What could Bob have done differently so that his children received the funds he wanted them to have? Even if Bob had executed A Last Will and Testament, the problem would still have existed because the joint tenants with a Right of Survivorship property is governed by contract law and is not subject to probate. 

For lack of some crucial guidance, Bob’s wishes and the result didn’t match. However, Bob could have kept his property separate and established a trust during his lifetime. Bob’s trust could have required a Family Trust for his children to be funded at his death. Bob’s wishes now align with the results – a much better outcome for all concerned. 

*Bob and Sue are a fictional couple and any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events are purely coincidental.

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