In my Quora e-mail digest, I stumbled upon the most amazing and heartfelt estate plan I’ve ever read.
A user asked: If you were left millions in your parent’s will, but your brother or sister were left nothing, would you give them some money?
I think the large majority of us would say, “absolutely yes.” Even if we had lost touch with our siblings or felt they never treated us or our parents right, our grief and guilt alone would spur us to share something.
All these public family squabbles in probate court due to the failure of the deceased to create a private revocable living trust are so sad. It really pains me when money comes between family, especially after a death.
Here’s where one answerer, Jeff E. revives some of my faith in humanity. Let’s read what he has to say.
The Most Amazing Estate Plan
My sister is not a Quora reader. In the unlikely event that one of you fine people happen to know her, please keep this information quiet. (Thanks!)
Our mother died a few years ago, leaving her estate to me, my younger brother, and our older sister. While it didn’t amount to millions, between house, savings, retirement accounts, and some undeveloped property, there was a fairly hefty sum of money.
As the executor of Mom’s estate, my brother had direct insight into the financials. When he had a feel for the assets and liabilities, he came up with a plan to deceive our beloved sister about the size of our shared inheritance. He approached me with his idea, and I became an instant co-conspirator.
My brother and I both have solid careers and strong retirement plans. While our sister has always worked hard and has been careful with her money, life has thrown her a few curve balls.
For reasons completely beyond her control, she wasn’t very well set up for retirement. And – given that she’s nearly a decade older than me – we knew she couldn’t keep charging that hard forever.
Hence my brother’s evil plan…
Instead of splitting the estate into three equal shares, my brother and I each took a few thousand dollars and gave the remaining 95% to our sister.
We’ve kept up the fiction that the estate was much larger than any of us suspected, and our sister still believes that she received an equal one-third share.
It wasn’t a fortune, but it was enough to make her retirement possible and give her a comfortable cushion against future emergencies. My only regret is that it wasn’t my idea.
Because our sister really is beloved. Our father died when we were children, and she pretty much raised the rest of us. She’s one of the kindest, most supportive human beings you’re ever likely to meet. She deserves a bit of rest and security after a lifetime of hard work.
Getting back to original poster’s question, we didn’t inherit millions and no one was cut out of the estate.
But we clearly didn’t follow our mother’s intentions. I’m okay with that. And if Mom could see us now, I think she’d be okay with it too.
Share The Wealth Now
How awesome is Jeff and his brother’s plan for their sister? Their estate plan makes me want to have one more child so they can look out for each other after we’re gone. Alas, we’re probably too old.
Although some complain about the Boomer generation flourishing at the expense of younger generations, younger generations should be ecstatic because they will end up inheriting all the Boomer generation’s wealth.
I went to get a physical the other day and my 68-year-old nurse mentioned her parents bought property for her and her six siblings while they were toddlers. Her parents managed the properties as rentals and paid them off by the time the kids graduated from college.
Not a bad strategy at all. Once your housing cost is covered, life is much more manageable.
It makes no sense to rail against our parents who diligently saved and invested for decades so that we might live a better life. Instead, we should be thanking them.
If for some reason our parents didn’t save and invest during the greatest bull market in history, at least we can be thankful knowing they had the best time spending all their money.
There’s nothing more important than family. I hope we appreciate this fact while we’re still living. Instead of waiting until we’re dead to help our family members, we should do more to help them while alive.
Let’s check-in with our siblings and parents and see if everything is all right. I’m sure some will be too proud to ask for help. This is where it’s up to us to insist on helping no matter what.
Recommendation: Life insurance should be an integral part of your estate planning process. A life insurance payout is usually tax-free and serves to financially support your loved ones after you’re gone. Check out PolicyGenius, my favorite life insurance marketplace where you can get customized quotes all in one place from competing carriers.
Readers, have you figured out what you will leave to your loved ones? How did you determine how to divide your assets? Have you ever received more than your fair share of inheritance? If so, what did you do about it?