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Putting conditions on an inheritance

People in Florida who are involved in planning for the distribution of their estates after they die may have to navigate some difficult family relationships. One problem that may arise is that people want to leave assets to a child, for example, while disliking the child's spouse. While it may be tempting to put the condition on the inheritance that the child must divorce the spouse, there may be better options.

One difficulty with this approach is that it may destroy the heir's memory of their relationship with the person who puts this condition in place. Another problem is that the heir may simply refuse the assets. A better option may be to place the assets in a trust. This could protect the inheritance from the spouse. A bank, another family member or another person or entity could be named as an independent trustee, and there might be rules placed on the trust regarding how the child can spend it. For example, the child might be barred from using the income on the spouse. The child might also receive income with no control over the assets.

There could be a condition on the trust that the assets could be protected in case of a divorce. However, this would still need to be delicately worded.

This is only one of many complications that may arise in the course of making an estate plan. Other things that an estate planning attorney will suggest that a client will need to take into account will include appointing an executor and perhaps considering whether a power of attorney, an advance health directive and a living will are desirable. These decisions may also involve a careful consideration of family dynamics. For example, it may be best to appoint an executor who is good at mediating conflict among loved ones or who does not have a conflict of interest.

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