Poor estate planning can leave estate milked dry

Should estate planning focus on leaving children as well off financially as possible? While some see no problem with doing this, others think that it could cause children to be spoiled and unappreciative of hard work.

Those in the latter category point to a number of cases involving problematic estates. Previous posts here have discussed the trouble with Stan Lee's estate plan, but there are other wealthy individuals who found themselves being taken advantage of by their loved ones. One woman, worth more than $100 million, lived in squalor while her son bilked her of her assets. He was later convicted of fraud and other crimes, but he still wound up inheriting more than $14 million from his mother's estate.

Other wealthy individuals have seen their estates dwindle to nothing after supporting their children well into adulthood. This can threaten a person's ability to obtain much needed medical care as they age. Sometimes, these children choose to lock their parents out an estate entirely, such as when assets are placed in a trust that is then taken advantage of by children.

Of course, in most instances, loved ones are happy to even be considered as an heir or beneficiary, and these individuals will do nothing to jeopardize the estate. Yet, caution is paramount when dealing with estate planning. Since the process is entirely customizable, it is important to develop asset distribution strategies that suit the proper needs and ensure the longevity of the estate. Different needs will result in different estate plans.

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