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5 Mentoring Tips from the Grave

By April 17, 2013No Comments

As a wills and trusts attorney, frequently, clients or friends ask me how they or their parents can prevent young, adult beneficiaries from wasting their “hard-earned” inheritance. I explain that this can be managed in at least 5 ways:

  1. Use hard cold facts and an iron club. Tell them that the money was hard-earned by you and don’t leave them anything but a videotape of the family history. Leave all the money and possessions to charity.
  2. Bribe the youngsters and hope for the best. Of course, these are 2 actions that make most lawyers’ skin crawl.
  3. Educate the little people from the time they get their first piggy bank from Grandpa.
  4. Use conditional provisions that don’t “offend public policy.” This means that, while you can’t disinherit your child from marrying outside his ethnicity and can’t tell him he won’t get a dime unless he divorces his current spouse, you can cut the cord if he becomes a lifetime criminal. You can shorten the cord if she becomes a lifetime substance abuser.  And you can make the cord’s length dependent on grades and gainful employment.
  5. “Staggered mentoring,” which I’ve mentioned before, is another tool. With a “staggered mentoring” provision, Grandpa leaves Hermoine 30% of her pot of gold when she turns 25, another 30% when she turns 30, and the balance at the age of 35.

My favorite is a combination of 3 through 5, but as my favorite contracts professor said, “If it walks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it ain’t a beagle.” So, if Hermoine’s been in and out of jail since the age of 16 and she’s 25 now, education, at least of the financial planning kind, isn’t probably going to work.

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