How Can You Disinherit Someone or protect against the in-laws and Be Sure it Sticks?

Let’s say you want to leave everything you own to your children, but you can’t stand and don’t trust their spouses. That might make you want to delay making an estate plan, because it’s a hard thing to come to terms with, says a recent article “Dealing with disinheritance, spouses” from the Times Herald-Record. There are options, but make the right choice, or your estate could face challenges.

Some people choose to leave nothing at all for their child in the will, so that if there is a divorce or if the child dies, their assets won’t end up in the daughter or son-in-law’s pocket. For some parents, particularly those who are estranged from their children, this can create more problems than it solves.

Disinheriting a child with a will is not always a good idea. If you die with assets in your name only, they go through the court proceeding called probate, when the will is used to guide asset distribution. The law requires that all children, even disinherited ones, are notified that you have died, and that probate is going to occur. The disinherited child can object to the provisions in the will, which can lead to a will contest. Most families engaged in litigation over a will become estranged—even those that weren’t beforehand. The cost of litigation will also take a bite out of the value of your estate.

A common tactic is to leave a small amount of money to the disinherited child in the will and add a no-contest clause in the will. The no-contest clause expressly states that anyone who contests the will loses any right to their inheritance. Here is the problem: the disgruntled child may still object, despite the no contest clause, and invalidate the will by claiming undue influence or incapacity or that the will was not executed properly. If their claims are valid, then they’ll have great satisfaction of undoing your planning.

How can you disinherit a child, and be sure that your plan is going to stand up to challenge?

A trust is better in this case than a will. Not only do trusts avoid probate, but (unless state law requires otherwise at death) the children do not receive notice of the creation of a trust. An inheritance trust, where you leave money to your child, names a trustee to be in charge of the trust and the child is the only beneficiary of the trust. The child might be a co-trustee, but they do not have complete control over the trust. The spouse has no control over the inheritance, and you can also name what happens to the assets in the trust, if the child dies.

This kind of planning is called “controlling from the grave,” but it’s better than not knowing if your child will be able to protect their inheritance from a divorce or from creditors.

With a national divorce rate around fifty percent, it’s hard to tell if the in-law (or as I like to refer to them as the “out-laws”) you welcomed with an open heart, will one day become a predatory enemy in the future, even after you are gone. The use of trusts can ensure that assets remain in the bloodline and protect your hard work from divorces, lawsuits, creditors and other unexpected events as these assets are not considered assets of the child.

Please contact me to schedule a complimentary consultation, either in person or virtually through Zoom, to determine if your estate plan has these protective features.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (June 6, 2020) “Dealing with disinheritance, spouses”


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Will 007 Leave His Little Spies All of His Riches?

James Bond actor Daniel Craig says he and his wife, Rachel Weisz, won’t be giving their large fortune of over $100 million to their children. In an interview with Saga magazine, the James Bond star commented that he finds the idea of inheritance “distasteful.”

“My philosophy is to get rid of it or give it away before you go,” he said.

Yahoo Entertainment’s article from March entitled “Daniel Craig says he doesn’t plan to leave his fortune to his kids: ‘Get rid of it or give it away before you go’,” reports that he has a baby daughter, born in 2018, with actress wife Rachel Weisz and an older daughter Ella, who is in her 20s, from his previous marriage. Craig is also stepfather to Weisz’s 13-year-old son Henry.

“I don’t want to leave great sums to the next generation.”

Craig is not the only celebrity who has vowed to cut out his children from his estate plan. He is one of a growing number of stars who believe in allowing their children to find their own financial way in the world, instead of using their wealthy parents.

For example, rock icon Elton John and his husband David Furnish said in 2016 that they would be giving the lion’s share of their fortune to charity, not their two sons.

“Of course, I want to leave my boys in a very sound financial state. However, it’s terrible to give kids a silver spoon. It ruins their life,” John remarked.

John went on to tell his sons, “Listen, the boys live the most incredible lives, they’re not normal kids, and I’m not pretending they are. But you have to have some semblance of normality, some respect for money, some respect for work.”

Likewise, American Idol impresario Simon Cowell, told the Mirror in 2013 that he’s going to leave his money to somebody. “A charity, probably — kids and dogs. I don’t believe in passing on from one generation to another,” he said.

“Your legacy has to be that hopefully you gave enough people an opportunity, so that they could do well, and you gave them your time, taught them what you know,” Cowell added.

Daniel Craig will soon star in his final Bond movie, No Time to Die. The 007 film was originally scheduled for release in April, but now has been delayed until November.

What legacy do you want to leave to your family? Please contact me to set up a consultation, either in person or virtually, if you would like to discuss this further.

Reference: Yahoo Entertainment (March 23, 2020) “Daniel Craig says he doesn’t plan to leave his fortune to his kids: ‘Get rid of it or give it away before you go’”


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Can Exercise Help with Dementia?

A new study shows that even when your memory starts to fade, you can still do something about it by adding aerobic exercise to your lifestyle, reports News Atlas’ recent article entitled “Aerobic exercise shown to improve memory in those at risk of dementia.”

The study concentrated on the long-term changes to cerebral blood flow that comes from aerobic exercise in patients already presenting with age-related mild cognitive impairment. Thirty subjects with an average age of 66 who did not regularly exercise but had signs of memory impairment were divided into two groups.

One group was asked to do several aerobic exercise sessions each week for 12 months, and the other group performed stretch and balance sessions aimed at strengthening their upper and lower body while keeping heart rates low. MRI scans calculated cerebral blood flow in all participants at the beginning and end of the year-long study.

After a year, the aerobic exercise group showed increased cerebral blood flow to the anterior cingulate cortex and adjacent prefrontal cortex, relative to the stretching group. Memory tests conducted at the start and end of the study also showed a 47% improvement in the aerobic group, while the stretching group had only minimal improvements. The study suggests a direct correlation between improvement on the memory test scores and increases in cerebral blood flow to these key areas of the brain.

While the number of people studied was small, the results are consistent with a large volume of prior research affirming the value of exercise in maintaining cognitive abilities in older age. Aerobic exercise appears to confer the greatest cognitive protections, especially in those most at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers note that the group of patients that were recruited in the study all reported little to no regular exercise prior to the trial. The novelty of this particular trial is that it offers signs that aerobic exercise can confer cognitive benefits, even when started at an advanced age, after memory decline has already started, and those cognitive benefits may be mediated specifically by improved blood flow to specific regions of the brain.

The study was published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Reference: News Atlas (May 24, 2020) “Aerobic exercise shown to improve memory in those at risk of dementia”


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