Grandfather’s trust is not for you
September 26, 2014 - Posted by: admin - In category:
Among the estate planning myths we encounter on a regular basis is the mistaken belief that grandfather’s 30-year-old trust, covered with dust and two pages in length, will work well for you and your family. Even though we would NEVER consider wearing grandpa’s 30-year-old clothes (whether or not such clothes fit), some people convince themselves that copying and adopting a 30-year-old (or even 10-year-old) estate plan, written for another person, is good practice.
We have a more detailed discussion on this topic HERE ON OUR WEBSITE (CLICK HERE) and our book titled “20 Myths of Estate Planning–What you don’t know CAN hurt you” also covers this misunderstanding. But in short, some common sense should dispel this myth and help folks to see that outdated estate plans designed for another person, in another generation, are not any more appropriate for us than someone else’s prescription medicines.
Forget the age and time difference and focus for a moment on the simple the fact that grandfather’s estate plan was intended for him and his family. Every person and family is different, with unique personalities, life situations and challenges. Again, borrowing the prescription drug example, just as one medication may work well for my dad–that does NOT mean such a medicine will work well for me. Likewise, an estate plan that was intended to accomplish grandma’s goals and objectives, while also factoring in the life circumstances of grandfather, grandmother and their family members is NOT something that will have good application in your life. Why? Well, for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the legal landscape has significantly changed in recent years. This is true with respect to federal tax rules, state tax regulations and various other laws which have application today in relation to your estate plan, including the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Clark v. Rameker.
Again, we come back to common sense (forget legal technicalities for a moment). Common sense should tell us that using something designed and intended for someone else and that person’s family, in a different time, is not wise. When in doubt, use common sense. Not always, but most often, common sense is applicable in the sometimes confusing world of estate planning and legal matters generally.