Michelle Herting is a California business adviser and writer on estate planning topics. She makes two quick child-centric points in a recently penned article that are relevant to the planning process. We note them immediately below for readers.
The first is this: A parental strategy to respond to the kids the same way when conflict arises over perceived differentiated treatment seldom works. Herting notes that moms and dads trying to quell discord frequently “make the well-intentioned mistake that fair and equal are the same.”
They’re not. Siblings have distinct temperaments, mindsets, strengths and weaknesses
Here’s that second related point, to wit: A parent doing estate planning who fails to duly note the differentiation can flatly sabotage hoped-for outcomes by giving all the kids an equal right and say in estate management.
Many parent planners do that in a knee-jerk way, simply continuing with decision making that has proceeded unwaveringly since the kids were toddlers. Their thinking is that things might turn out best if all the now-adult children participate fully and together as managers.
Message from Herting: It seldom works out that way. In fact, having all the kids act together as co-trustees of the estate is far more likely to be a recipe for disaster.
There are antidotes to that. Herting especially notes that potential problems surrounding the input of multiple children in planning outcomes can be eliminated by one simple decision. Namely, that is a grantor’s empowerment of a “legal professional with trust administration experience” to make controlling decisions.
“Talk with your attorney,” advises Herting. And, understandably, keep your kids in the loop.