Estate planning can be flexible in meeting beneficiary needs

When planning their estate, a couple residing in Texas, or elsewhere for that matter, may want to stress equality in distribution of their assets to their children. Indeed, that is the standard arrangement in the majority of estate plans. However, estate planning can also provide for any variations that the parents may desire.

Sometimes, lifetime gifting to one child may create a desire to reflect that fact in the provisions of a simple will. Additionally, the will may provide for a greater distribution to needier children where one or more of the other children are relatively financially independent. A variation in planning will also be necessary where some of the children are still minors and some are adults.

At the least, a guardian or trustee must be appointed in the will to manage the funds being bequeathed to the minor child or children. Each minor child may have different needs, which would require fashioning different provisions for each testamentary trust. A minor, for example, may be disabled and need special care, which the parents will want to see specifically mentioned and handled in the will.

In some situations, when parents give loans to children during life, they may want the loans paid back so as to show complete equality among all of the children. This can be done by having the child sign a promissory note, which can then be an obligation collectible by the estate. The easy way to collect is to take it out of that child's net share of the distributions.

In Texas and all jurisdictions, the basic rules of estate planning will serve well to provide as much flexibility or as much equality as the parents desire. Various provisions during life and at death can be combined to design the appropriate plan to fit the particular needs of a particular family. Because each family is different, and each situation has its own variables, the parents will want to work closely with their estate planning attorney to assure that all of their needs are reflected in their preparations.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, "Fair doesn't mean equal in estate planning", Carissa Giebel, April 27, 2015

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