Legal tips for adult children facing the loss of their inheritance
Paul Brennan is the principal of Brennans Solicitors, a law firm located on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, where he practices with his wife, Diane in the areas of business law, litigation, property and wills/estates.
Over the years, by working in various countries, he noticed how similar the law can be. He set out to explain the law in a simple and often humorous way.
They may not be up there on Disney’s hit list with Stepmoms but Stepdads can be just as villainous.
Your dear old Dad dies unexpectedly at the age of 53 years. He is immediately elevated from the dog house to pride of place on the mantelpiece. Framed photographs appear like mushrooms on every flat surface in the house.
Your mother is devastated, and hopefully a little guilty, as she fights with the Insurance Company over a generous insurance pay out, which they do not want to let go of. They inspect old medical reports and look for loopholes. Your mother begins to think that your Dad's mates may have told the Insurance Company that she nagged him to death. However, her lawyer assures her that with insurance companies, this is not unusual, despite what their advertisements say.
Just about the same time as the insurer finally pays up, your mother’s loneliness is mercifully cut short as she meets a male companion.
Your relief at your mother becoming less reliant on you is quickly replaced with worry that your inheritance will disappear. Although it may not happen for 20 or 30 years, you and your siblings start to worry right away.
Her male companion sincerely assures you that he is not interested in your mother’s money, the rat. He is penniless with several children of his own and after several “get to know you” meetings, you detest them too.
You go to your lawyer and complain. He advises you that parents can be unreliable, however, there is no need to start worrying unless they move in together. They move in together.
Well, at least they are not married, he says. They marry.
You return to your lawyer, he confirms that once people move in together, the ‘Anne Nicol Smith and Paul McCartney type horror story cases’ apply equally to men.
It looks like you may need to work past 45 years after all.
Of course, if he dies first then your inheritance is safe. Your lawyer gives you the usual advice:
- encourage him to go back to work;
- overlook his drinking;
- buy him a fast car;
that sort of thing.
Your lawyer sets out two other options:
1. Get your mother to set up a family trust.
2. Get her to make a will in your favour.
Your mother is hopelessly besotted, ignores your urging to leave him and even takes your stepfather’s side.
You buy your Stepdad the fast car and hope for the best.
Extract from "A LEGAL GUIDE TO DYING-baby boomer edition"
© Paul Brennan 2008. All Rights Reserved.