My 68-year-old father unexpectedly passed away last year. Despite my efforts to encourage my parents to create Wills and Revocable Living Trusts, they had not done so because, well, they were not wealthy and were not planning on dying yet. My mother, brother, and I were left with painful grief and a complete mess. My brother lives two hours away from our hometown and for the last twenty-four years, I have been living overseas here in the U.S. For the first time in her life, my mom was learning to live alone. She was twenty when they were married.
As a Probate attorney, I have often seen the consequences of not having a comprehensive and updated Estate Plan in place. This time, however, it was personal. Under Estonian law, my parents’ marital home of thirty-eight years was passed on to my mom, my brother, and me equally. My dad always wanted my mom to inherit the property and all his modest possessions to make sure she had the resources to age gracefully without worrying about finances. Although my brother and I had no desire to take ownership of their home, we quickly learned that relinquishing our shares would have significant legal consequences.
My initial plan was to “disclaim” my interest in the property to make sure my mom received everything. However, I learned that my disclaimed share would instead go to my then one-year-old son who would not be able to disclaim the inheritance until he turned 18. This meant that my mother was left responsible for maintaining and paying taxes on a property that she wanted to sell. Eventually, we found an expensive solution. Luckily for us, at least there was no Gift Tax issue from us “gifting” our shares to my mom, which would have been the case under US law.
It is easy to put off creating a Will, especially when you are young and healthy. However, life is unpredictable, and the unexpected can happen at any time. By having an Estate Plan in place, you can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones don’t have to go through the mess my family had to go through.
My team and I are on a mission to make sure your family does not have to go through what my family had to endure. Please call us at 301-696-0567 or self-schedule at lenaclarklegal.com if you would like help protecting your assets and loved ones in the event of death or disability.