How to ensure your kids will not be disinherited

     To protect your children’s inheritance and to make sure the people you love ultimately inherit what is left, there are two primary tools we use: (1) trust law to protect the property and to control and direct the remainder interest, and (2) an agreement not to alter the plan. The chief focus of this article is on the agreement not to alter the plan.

     Let us assume John and Cindy are married and have two children: Michael and Janice. John and Cindy realize it is possible that the survivor would get re-married. Given this possibility, when they are getting their planning put together, it is advisable for them to sign an agreement that indicates neither will alter their estate plan without each other’s consent and that if the survivor is to get re-married, then the new spouse will waive their spousal rights under a valid prenuptial agreement.

     What does this do? It creates equitable rights in Michael and Janice and ultimately protects their remainder interest. If we do this and we also utilize trust law to protect assets during surviving spouse’s life and to direct where the remainder will go (to Michael and Janice), then we have taken substantial steps that will ensure the family assets will not be lost to a new spouse, will not be lost to a lawsuit, will not be lost to unnecessary taxes. Now, that is good planning.

     Contributed by

     Mark F. Winn, J.D., LL.M. is a local tax, asset protection and estate      planning attorney