Writing a Will involving a Difficult Child

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SeekingStrength, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    While we are not looking for legal advice, we are curious about experiences anybody might care to share?

    husband and I (59 and 62 - long past will-writing ages!) finally have an appointment with an attorney Thursday.

    We love our three offspring equally, though we do not especially like the eldest (Difficult Child).

    If any of you have dealt with this, and have advice to give us, before we enter the attorney's office, we would be most appreciative.

    Our very vague plan includes: dividing the $$ in any accounts equally (there will not be much, but that is not the issue). Giving youngest child our newest car and Difficult Child our oldest car. Middle child is a total motor head and would never drive anything we own, haha.

    Daughter also will inherit a diamond (my grandmother's wishes when she gave it to me). So, we would like to kinda "even" that out for the youngest son by giving him the newest car. Though, it might be 10 years old by then.

    Then, include the two youngest offspring - NOT Difficult Child - in the liquidation of the house and contents. That, also, would not amount to major $$. But, we would want it written in the will that Difficult Child could not be part of that process. Difficult Child would turn that into a miserable experience, though he certainly has no wishes on anything. We have tried to get him to take furniture, etc. in the past. Naah, he hates all of it.

    If you have already been through the process, we welcome your wisdom.

  2. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    We too have three children and felt much like you do regarding your difficult child. When we made our will, we had it made to be split equally among our daughters. I hope that as time goes on that we will give whichever child the specific items we would like for them to have. At the end of our will we added a special clause that states, anyone that argues or challenges our will, will be excluded. There is only one that we would expect to challenge anything and if she is wise, she keep that information to herself in order to be included.

    We purposely did not mention specific items go to a specific child for the sole purpose of being fair and equal to all of our children. I didn't feel it was right to leave hurt feelings between our children after we are no longer here. I really do hope they keep a tight family bond after we are gone.

    Edited to add: During this process of getting our wills taken care of, we signed legal documents assigning who our medical power of attorney would be and the executer of our will and and some point will appoint a financial power of attorney too. difficult child will not be named on any of those documents.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    As much as possible, any valuables which must go to a specific person (such as the diamond) should be given while you are still alive. It just saves a whole lot of hassle.

    I've seen some innovative ways of handling wills and asset dispersal. It depends partly on the financial situation of the kids, the nature of their spouses, and a raft of other factors you may not even know at this point in time. Its really tricky to liquidate a house and not include that value in the asset split between the kids. The contents? The value really isn't there, usually - mostly used furniture and used household goods.

    If you want to do an uneven distribution, don't do it through the will. Take out life insurance policies on yourselves - perhaps two policies each, one for each of the two kids you want to leave extra to, or better yet, three - include a low-value one for difficult child. That way, all of them receive insurance money, and they don't have to say how much they got. It avoids a lot of hard feelings.
  4. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    We have 5 children between us. We have made a will leaving everything to be split 5 ways equally. I would never consider anything else, no matter what their individual life choices or situations. I have been on the receiving end of an unfair will made by my own parents. I'd never inflict that on my own children. It's not only the financial aspect, it's the whole thing of unfairness and the rift that it can cause between siblings too. No matter what the ups and downs of my relationships with them all, particularly my son, I still love them all the same.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Whatever we have will be split equally among all the kids. There is nothing worse than the hurt one feels when seeing his parents disinherited him.
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    SS, this has been my guiding factor in thinking about what I would do regarding my two sons. As I have just remarried, we have discussed this a lot, how to set things up so his two daughters and my two sons have access to most of the assets we accumulated before we married, once we are both gone.

    As you know, Difficult Child is doing better and has been for a year. He is talking about going to school for a one-year certificate program in the fall. I am thinking about helping him with bills during that year---not paying all the bills---he will have to work, but helping him some so he can take this big step forward. Right now, I am sitting and waiting and watching to see if he actually will do all it takes to make it happen. So, I am cautiously optimistic about his future, but I also know that he needs to make it happen, not me. If he got a big windfall right now, who knows what direction he would go in?

    So...If I go first, my dear husband will have the awful task of dealing with how to parcel out my "estate" to both of my sons, the easy child and the Difficult Child. Actually, getting a lot of money right now would not be good for either of them, because they are both learning to make their own way in the world and grow up.

    That said, we have talked about my dear husband doling out Difficult Child's share as he sees fit. That is a terrible burden on him but he is up to that task. Yes, Difficult Child would not like it, but I'm not putting a loaded gun in his hand.

    Likely, we'll keep on living (hopefully) and this won't even be an issue for many years. I would like to leave my estate to both of my sons equally but I don't know if I will or not.

    We are going to deal with this more later this fall, so this thread is a good one and I will be reading it with interest.

    Thanks, SS, not sure if I helped you at all, but my two cents worth at this point.
  7. hopeandjoy66

    hopeandjoy66 Member

    We have recently re wrote our wills. We have been only married for 7 years and we both brought two adult children each into the marriage. After 6 years it was decided that all the children would be treated equally even though husband came into the marriage with a substantially more assets. If my husband goes first I will be left with everything. He felt that should be the first priority as I am 15 years younger and would need 15 years more or more of income to live on. The same for my husband if I should die first he will be left with it all. We decided not to give our children their inheritance until the last spouse has died. Then we will have our bank trustee from their estate planning division to be the distributor of the will. However, with having a Difficult Child we have left his money in something called a Henson Trust. Money is left to Difficult Child in this trust and it is doled out as need and at the discretion of the trust. We know when Difficult Child is manic or using drugs it would be blown immediately. This fund will top up his disability income pay or pay for a car if needed ect.. The point was we did not want family to have that responsibility as that would be a huge burden for the distributor. Difficult Child would hound that person relentlessly about receiving more money. It could turn very ugly. So the trust fund has somebody else to do that horrible job. What we wanted for Difficult Child was that he would live more comfortably as he aged, not a free for all party for all druggies in town. Actually, we are hoping that we will have spent most of our money in living a full, fun and happy life for us.;)
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think the trust is a good idea, in the hands of somebody outside of the family. Sonic has me as a payee and will continue to have a payee probably for life. He can't manage money, even though he doesn't take drugs.

    I just don't feel it's a good idea for any of our children to be totally disinherited unless they were so horrible to us that we are doing it to make them feel the hurt, such as they stole or cheated you in some way. Even a trust is not disinheriting a child.

    I need to get hubby on the ball with me and make a new will. Ours is ages old so that Goneboy is the executor because he is good at that stuff. But Goneboy has said he doesn't want anything from the family so he disinherited himself and has enough money as it is. We have to decide who will be medical guardian too.That will be tough. I trust all of my children equally, except Sonic who wouldn't want any part of that anyway.

    I'm glad this reminder post is up there.

    Unless I get more from my dad than I expect, there won't be much to hand out and I think it's more the emotional feeling that we love them than the amount of money in most cases. It was for me. I really don't think my mother had much at all. Nobody was living a higher lifestyle because of it. It was the hurt of the obvious yet final rejection that saddened me. Expected, but much more hurtful than I expected...after that I just sort of gave up on all of them, at least partly. My mother's intent was mean and to hurt.
  9. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    We have a special needs trust for our son as well. I think my daughter is the trustee but t h ere will be some money in the estate so that she can have an attorney do it instead as that can be a burden.

    I've got an oriental rug and a Waterford crystal jar as well as my wedding ring and my mom's that s she can have. I'm sure he wouldn't want that stuff. Other than that, they can liquidate the estate and split the proceeds.
  10. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input. I am glad to walk into the attorney's office with some ideas.

    I hope it did not come across that we would consider disinheriting Difficult Child. Not considering that at all, just want to make certain the other two kids are legally protected from his interference/bullying.

    Thanks again,
  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    My husband and I had our wills done last year. It took us about a year and numerous discussions to decide what to do.

    We only have one child and at any given moment we don't know where he is. Currently he's traveling across the country with his dog. He only touches base once every few months and it's always to complain about how his life sucks.

    Our son was married and had two beautiful children but decided he would rather drink and do drugs and he abandoned his wife and children. My daughter in law and I are very close and during their brief marriage she shared some really ugly stuff that my son had done.
    My husband and I have literally spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to help our son. Everything we have every given him, he's trashed or sold. He has treated us with such disdain and disrespect.
    All of this coupled with the fact he has abandoned his children helped us to make a very difficult decision.
    We put our entire estate into a trust for our grandchildren.
    My husband and I have worked very hard for many years to have what we have and we know if we were to leave it to our son that he would drink and drug it away and I do not want to be the avenue for him to further destroy himself.
    We chose a revocable trust rather than an irrevocable trust, that way, if our son starts to make better choices and live more responsibly we can always include him. That's the nice thing about a will, you can always change it. My husband and I will revaluate yearly to see if there are any changes that need to be made.
    We discussed this with our attorney and she told us that if we included him without knowing how to contact him, that whatever we left him would just sit in limbo.
    We also had our lawyer process our advanced directives and power of attorneys.

    A side note, even when an estate is equally divided between siblings there can still be strife. I know this first hand in dealing with one of my sisters. She felt she was entitled to more than an equal split even though our father's will was very specific.

    Good luck with your decision.