October 2015 WLG Newsletter



Fall has arrived here in southwestern New Hampshire. We wanted to share some updates since our last newsletter. We wanted to formally welcome Susan Rousse to Ward Legal Group, who joined us earlier this year. Sue will likely be the friendly voice on the other end of the phone if you call us. Also, Sarah Frankel has joined the Board of Directors at Sophia’s Hearth Family Center, a Waldorf early childhood center that provides childcare, parent-child classes, and professional development training in early childhood education.

Our newsletter this quarter involves a hypothetical family and their estate planning concerns. We will check back in with them in future issues.

Meet the Smith-Jones family*

Jane Smith and Dan Jones are ready to do some estate planning. They got married in their early 50s, and at this point they have been married for about 20 years. When they met, Jane was a widow and had an only child, Jill, from that marriage. Dan had been divorced many years ago and had 3 children, Dan Jr., Donna, and David, from his prior marriage. All of the children are healthy and responsible except David, who is currently homeless and has been struggling with addiction since he was a teenager. Dan still gives his son money when he sees him and lets him stay on the couch when he needs to. Jane is concerned about the David situation. She wants to plan so that when she passes away her husband is taken care of, but she is concerned that the money will go to David. And what about Jill? Dan is concerned about leaving David an inheritance that he would not be able to handle responsibly. Let’s go through some of their options.

Jane and Dan could do wills leaving everything to the other spouse, and then if the spouse is not surviving, everything could go to the 4 children in equal shares. The problem that could arise with this scenario is that if Dan dies first, Jane would get everything and could change her will so that her estate goes only to Jill and not Dan’s 3 children. On the other side, if Jane dies first, Dan could remove Jill as a beneficiary of his estate.

One option for Jane to provide for Jill could be to list Jill as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or IRA so that she knows that Jill would get something when she passes away. Likewise, Dan could name his children as beneficiaries of an account or life insurance policy.

Another option for Jane and Dan could be to set up living trusts. Jane could design hers so that when she passes away, the trust assets could be used to provide for Dan while he is alive. If there is anything left in the trust when Dan passes away, Jane could direct that it should go to Jill. Dan’s trust could be set up the same way except that when Jane passes away, any trust assets remaining would be divided into 3 equal shares for his children. One issue in Dan’s situation is how David should receive his share. Everyone seems to agree that David receiving the money outright would not be a good idea. We’ll discuss options for David’s share in our next newsletter and let you know what Jane and Dan decided to do.

*This is a fictional family and fact pattern.

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