Estate plans allow adults to protect themselves and others by planning ahead for their future deaths and possible future medical issues. Those creating estate plans often want to pass as much as possible to their closest family members.
Parents frequently decide to leave almost everything they own to their children. Unfortunately, greed can inspire even previously close family members to engage in shocking behavior when a parent dies. If you don’t plan carefully to protect yourself and your spouse when assigning property to your children in your estate plan, either of you could face a grim future due to greed.
Older adults may lose control over their own lives
Advanced age often comes with health issues, and sometimes those health issues compromise an individual’s ability to live independently or manage their household. When children or other estate beneficiaries can claim in court that a family member does not have the cognitive capacity to manage the estate or their lives, that person could lose their right to act on their own behalf.
Your spouse could wind up in a nursing home and without control over the assets they helped you accumulate throughout your life. Children could move a parent into a nursing home, regardless of their wishes, while laying claim to the assets that should have guaranteed more comfortable golden years. Other children may have to challenge those actions, which can drag the whole estate through probate litigation.
Such conflicts are more common than you might imagine and may become even more common in the near future, as Baby Boomers pass on and leave large estates to their spouses and children.
How can you protect your spouse?
Creating a trust could be a way to ensure that you or your spouse won’t lose access to resources even if you or they experience cognitive decline later in life. Powers of attorney can also be helpful, as they reduce the chance of family members gaining a guardianship against someone’s will.
You can structure your inheritance in a way that your children won’t receive much until your spouse eventually passes on, which can be beneficial in families with a history of conflict or with children who do not maintain close contact with their parents.
Identifying issues that may arise and negatively affect your loved ones or your estate can help you create a more effective and protective estate plan.