It’s funny: words have their ordinary, everyday usage but then when you commit them to writing – in a law, a contract, a will, a trust, and so on – words can become pretty tricky. While “marriage” as a legal term has been a hot topic as of late, by far the trickiest word in the estate planning lexicon is simply “family.”
It’s hard to find an estate plan that has nothing to do with family, and the great majority of them are all about family, so how could there be any ambiguity? WealthManagement tracks some of the practical problems in a recent article titled, “What is a “Family?””
You see, the problems with the definitions of family have less to do with federal or state law (unlike “marriage”) because it can be defined by the person actually planning his or her estate.
The original article discusses three different contexts and each only muddies the definitions of family. For example, consider a “family trust” established in 1910 to serve multiple generations. Did the person establishing such a trust foresee how the family would look like in 2013 after divorces, second marriages, children out of wedlock, same-sex partners and all other manners of contemporary occurrences?
What is a trustee of such a “family trust” to do?
Are we any better in imagining the future as we write our own estate plans today? If you think about it, even without considering the social mores matters, there are potential family problems whenever a trust lasts for multiple generations. After all, with every generation that comes along the number of potential beneficiaries that comes along tends to grow exponentially. Over time, each generation is less related and less connected to the others and the original maker of the trust.
All of this highlights the importance of working with an experienced estate planning attorney.
So what is “family” to you and is that what your documents say in their black and white?
I say, it’s not about the “documents” but about the results! I believe the counseling that takes place (or should take place) is far more important than mere documents.
From my experience the best estate plans are created after we first learn about the family and the clients goals, concerns, dreams, and "what keeps them up at night." After we learn these important concerns we work closely with our clients to co-create a 'Life & Estate Plan’ that will work for them and their family to give them the peace of mind they deserve!
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation please call Attorney Patrick Kelleher at 781-871-PLAN (7526) or by email at Pat@myfamilylifeplan.com
Our firm helps families taking care of them for life. We not only “create” their Will and Trust, but we “maintain it and keep it updated” for them throughout their life! The meter is not running for our ‘Client Care Plan’ members!
Patrick J. Kelleher is a South Shore, MA resident and estate planning attorney serving and protecting families and businesses in the South Shore, MA area. For more information on estate planning visit our firm’s website at www.MyFamilyLifePlan.comwhere you can check out our Blog, free Newsletter library, free Estate Planning Channel on Youtube and sign up for a Free e-Newsletter!
Also serving the following communities South of Boston; Quincy, Milton, Braintree, Randolph, Holbrook, Weymouth, Scituate, Norwell, Hingham, Cohasset, Hull, Hanover, Pembroke, Duxbury, Marshfield, Plymouth, Rockland, Hanson, Halifax, Plympton, Carver, Abington, Whitman, Kingston
This article is not intended to provide legal or tax advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. This article is for educational and informational purposes. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney.
Reference: WealthManagement.com (June 28, 2013) “What is a “Family?””