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Berge & Berge, LLP Blog

Monday, December 17, 2018

Estate Planning with a Troublemaker Child

How can I prevent a difficult child from interfering with my estate plans?

There’s a phrase used to describe parents who hover, micro-manage, and otherwise manipulate or control their children: helicopter parenting. California estate planning attorneys also encounter parents who seek to exert control of their children even after their death.

Is it possible to control your estate from the grave?

There are several reasons for trying to control things after you are gone—rather than leaving your assets to your children outright. Some people want to protect adult children who are “spendthrifts” and would otherwise likely blow their inheritance or lose it to creditors or in a divorce. Others have special needs children (or grandchildren) who need their inheritance to be structured in a way that does not jeopardize their eligibility for government disability benefits. And still others have minor children who need legal guardians to raise them and trustees to protect their money until they are old enough and financially mature. Establishing trusts for the above and other situations are common ways to accomplish these estate planning goals.

Sometimes, parents worry about “troublemaker” adult children and what havoc they might bring during the estate administration process. While state laws differ, some people try to control or discourage a troublemaker child by employing some of these tactics:

  • naming a professional to serve as their executor or trustee
  • including “no contest” clauses that would cut the troublemaker out of the will if they contest it
  • reduce or eliminate probate assets using trusts or beneficiary designations when possible
  • consider disinheriting the troublemaker child completely or give a nominal sum with a no contest clause.

Whether you have a potential troublemaker or not, protecting your children after you are gone can only be done with a comprehensive estate plan. If you need assistance with an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning experts at the Law Offices of Berge & Berge can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our offices in San Jose, California, we've been proudly serving the South Bay area for over 23 years in all aspects of trust and estate planning and estate administration.


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