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Four Ways to Cover the “What Ifs” of an Estate Plan

Many of our clients come to us with “what if” questions: what if I don’t have anyone I can trust, what happens if my children have more grandchildren, what if my child gets divorced, what if my beneficiaries are too young to inherit… We see questions like these ALL THE TIME.

In this blog we discuss four ways you can protect yourself and your family from the elusive “what if” scenarios.

  1. What if I have beneficiaries that are too young or too irresponsible to manage their own money? If you have beneficiaries that are under the age of 18 or that require special assistance due to health or mental capacity, you may put provisions in place to protect their inheritance. A trust for the benefit of a minor child or an individual with special needs allows a trustee to manage the assets over a specified period of time or at intervals based on age or achievements.
  2. What if the beneficiaries change? You may name a certain set of beneficiaries as a class, rather than by name (e.g.; children, grandchildren). You may still name the ones that already are alive, but you may leave the provision open to expansion. If someone that is a named beneficiary predeceases you, you specify what happens to the assets that would have passed to them (i.e., the assets are redistributed to the surviving beneficiaries or flow to their lineal descendants).
  3. What if I want to exclude someone? You are allowed to write someone out of your will. For our clients who choose to omit a lineal descendant or other close relative, we often advise to expressly name them to make clear that the omission is by choice (rather than by accident). Note that in most states, including CT, a spouse is entitled to the relevant “spousal share” as a minimum inheritance, so you cannot completely disinherit your spouse.
  4. What if I don’t have anyone I can trust with my Estate? Many of our clients struggle with selecting fiduciaries and successors – the people who will manage your estate or trust.  Generally, though, you may change the fiduciaries at any time during your lifetime. Further, you may choose a certain type of person – a non-beneficiary, a neutral party, and/or a third-party trust company. Any such fiduciary would have a legal obligation to ensure your wishes are fulfilled.

For assistance with any legal matters related to your business or estate planning contact Fournier Legal Services at jfournier@jeflegal.com or 860.670.3535 for a consultation and planning session.

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