This person was the father of several children, but all of the children had different mothers. One of the man’s previous wives lives out of the country, while the most recent wife lives in the United States. They had conflicting views on who should get what assets. With one wife Skyping in, the conversation didn’t move too smoothly. It also seemed like the children’s interests were being neglected by both parties, and that the wives were actually withholding information from the kids. To add to that, the deceased person’s mother, who didn’t seem to get along so great with the wives, was also claiming rights to his assets. After each party made their claims and asked their questions, the judge decided that the court needed more details and rescheduled for another hearing in a few months.
Everybody’s family situation is different. You might be thinking that if something were to happen to you, your loved ones would never make things so complicated. Really, you never actually know who might make claims to your stuff after you’re gone. I offer two points here that you might consider thinking about. The first is that even if you believe your situation would never be this complicated, the time and money it will take for your loved ones to sort everything out will be a huge obstacle to resolving distributions. The case I shared above has been going on for over a year! The second thing to think about is that if you don’t speak for yourself when you still have the opportunity to, no one else will be able to when the time comes. You could lose all control over what happens to your assets; all it takes is some distant relative, or perhaps a secret family member, to make a claim.
Just to remind you, I’m not a professional, and I’m probably not predicting your future. I just wanted to share a real life example of what can happen when there isn’t a plan in place. Check out these celebrity estate planning mistakes for some more examples. I hope you have a happy Fourth of July, and I’ll see you next week with some more entertaining and enlightening observations.