Family Drama & Estate Planning
Families have drama. It is probably safe to say that all families have some sort of drama even if they appear perfect to everyone else. With drama comes chaos, misunderstandings, arguments and even permanent damage to the integrity of the family.
Drama may come in many forms. Blended families are ripe for serious conflict and devastating results upon the death of a parent/spouse. Further, in blended or traditional families, there may be a child with serious debt issues, a controlling and manipulative spouse, substance abuse issues, mental health problems, stealing, physical abuse, or even general disrespect toward the family. A child may be enabling a grandchild that has some of these issues; or, it may consist of countless other possibilities. Regardless of the type of drama, the problem remains the same: how does the parent structure the estate plan to account for these problems?
Parents may choose to leave assets to their spouse and children and let them “fight it out” or “spend it all.” However, many parents desire to benefit their loved ones while attempting to control or lessen the drama that is expected. While totally eliminating drama is not likely, a well-developed estate plan can address many of these problems and impose conditions or restrictions on the control and use of assets. A good estate plan can protect spouses, children from creditors, divorcing spouses; or, perhaps more importantly, from the child’s own destructive habits. Parents should give serious thought to their family’s dynamics and work with an estate planning attorney to create an estate plan that suits the needs of the family by distributing assets to the spouse, children and other individuals the parents’ desire while also providing the necessary degree of protection and oversight.
–Melanie B. Bradford
Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC
Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.
2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124
This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.