Life Changes. So Do Estate Plans.

My wife Lorna and I have not made many changes to our estate plan, which we had prepared initially when our first of three children were born. Our lives have been pretty straightforward (I am not going to say boring), so there were no major life events which required they be revisited. However, we have had one continuing issue.

Our plan provided, as do many, that if my wife and I both died, our estate would be essentially divided into three parts, and each child would receive 1/3 of their share at ages 25, 30 and 35. The thinking was that this would prevent all of the inheritance from being dissipated from early bad decisions, a divorce or just bad luck.

However, when our oldest became 24, we started rethinking this. Nate is a good and responsible child, and would finish law school the next year.

Lorna and I are both lawyers, and recalled how difficult it was adjusting to the adult world after law school. We began worrying that Nate, if he had some money from an inheritance, might not put up with the difficulties of that transition period; and putting up with those difficulties and overcoming them we thought was something that would help set him up for his adult life. The trust always allowed payments if a child really needed the money. So, we modified our trust so each child would receive their shares at 30, 35 and 40.

And then-well, you guessed it. As Nate approached 30, we had the same thoughts, and modified the Trust to provide for payments now at ages 35, 40, and 45.

I am sure some of you think we just wanted to torture our children (payback for teenage years!) and continue these changes forever, but we are now comfortable that our soon-to-be 35 year old would not let an inheritance interfere with his career, so we will stay with what we have.

Everyone’s views are different. The beauty of estate planning is that everyone can have a plan that provides precisely how they see the world at any moment.