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Outliving One of Your Children

Posted 226 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

No one sits down one day and says, “I will probably outlive my child”. But the fact of the matter is there are a lot of things that could contribute to that comment being true.  Here are some common examples I see in my practice:

1. Mom or dad live well into their 90's and their children are now in their 60's and are not as healthy as their parents.

2. Unexpected accidents, such as car, motorcycle or plane accidents cannot be planned for or even anticipated, but they happen every day.

3. Health issues with children sometimes result in a shorter life expectancy.  Some can be controlled and are not, such as alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity and some cannot be controlled such as Parkinson’s disease or cancer.

4. When we use the words “outlive” or “survive”, we can also take into account possible mental health issues of a child that will create other issues.  The child may survive the parent in age only, but not in mental health.

So why am I bringing this up, as it is not fun to discuss?  Because failing to address these possibilities in your estate plan can result in assets not passing to the right people or at the right time. 

For example, if your son or daughter were to predecease you, do you want their share to go to their spouse if they are married, or bypass the spouse and go the deceased child’s descendants (your grandchildren)?

If a child does survive you but has mental health issues, will they be able to manage money or will they blow through the funds not understanding the importance of saving those funds for needs when they are older.  Even worse, is that adult child receiving government assistance due their mental health issues and the receipt of an inheritance outright could affect those benefits?

There is no perfect answer on how to solve all of these potential problems, except for one. KEEP YOUR ESTATE PLAN UP TO DATE! AN ESTATE PLAN IN MOST CASES IS NOT A ONE AND DONE DEAL. As life around you changes, you may need to revisit your documents.

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