Tax Law and Business Organization Strategy

How To Stay In Your Grandparent's Will

I have revised many estate plans and wills in my 30 years of law practice. There are many reasons that one changes a will. Taxes. Financial success. Financial reversal. Marriage. Divorce. But no event seems to occur more often than a change to delete a beneficiary or reduce his or her gift because of conduct, or lack thereof, which causes one to lose his or her place in a grandparent’s heart.

I have often given programs on estate planning. Sometimes I think the best advice might be to beneficiaries rather than to the estate planning client. So, I offer a few basic hints.

Seek Their Wisdom. Your grandparents are the ones who brought your parents into this world, and if that had not happened, you would not be the subject of this article. No matter who your grandparents are or what they are like, they will have life experiences and wisdom from which you will profit. Their lives are an important part of your character foundation.

Remember Important Days/Events. Call, write, and visit your grandparents on the important days of their lives. They have been doing the same for you. Nothing shows one more how much you care than your sincere remembrance of them.

Try. Demonstrate to your grandparents, and most importantly, to yourself that you can make and earn the substances of life on your own. Rely on the foundations they have provided by their teachings and examples (not their money), and their love and support, to create your own significant existence. Your efforts will be what make you strong, not granddad’s cash.

You Are Not Entitled. There is not a right in this state to inherit. No cut of the pie was reserved for you at your birth. Your grandparents can add you or delete you from their wills with the stroke of a pen. Do not live your life with foolish hopes of entitlement to wealth you did not create.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch. I promise that if your grandparent finds out that you have started a new house, ordered a new car, and set up a Caribbean cruise betting on the inheritance to come, you have just taken one of the top 3 steps to be written out of your grandparent’s will. Nothing seems to upset a grandparent more than your expecting what is to come, and worse, making your financial plans based on his or her dying.

Save (Buy Used Cars). The number one cause for deletion of a beneficiary from a will is that he or she is a total and hopeless spendthrift. I often hear one say, “Why she has never saved a dime, nor will she ever!” If you are a spendthrift, admit it, change your ways or get someone to help you do so. All of those around you, including you, will be better for it.

Live Responsibly. All of my comments above boil down to the hope of all grandparents, and that is their grandchildren will have a life rewarded by his or her own responsibility. Wealth, no matter how much, is a serious responsibility. We must all use our resources wisely, so that the management of wealth will support and nurture ourselves, our families and our fellow human beings.

Please understand that the comments above are my observations. They are not recipes for inheriting from grandma. Followed, however, your reward will be great.

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