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October 10, 2007


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To add to the comment:

I'm an attorney in NC and about half of my practice is estate planning. Many folks do not understand the implication of your estate being split between your spouse and children. At first glance, this sounds like an okay proposition. Most want to know that their children will be provided for.

The problem is in how the funds have to be handled after your death. Most states are going to require that the children's share be managed by a trustee appointed by the court system. It might vary by state, but I think in many cases, your surviving spouse is likely to be appointed as the trustee. The problem is that the trustee must then submit annual reports to the courts until the children come of age. The annual reports are tedious---as in, at least in NC, every sincle bit of income or expense has to be accounted for to the penny. This is tedious and it binds the hands of the surviving spouse as to what they can and cannot do with the money.

If you want to leave money to both your spouse and children, you would be better off executing your own trust document before your death. Trusts that are not administered by the court typically can allow for more flexibility and will not have such rigorous reporting requirements (however your spouse still has a fiduciary duty to the children and the children would have a cause of action if your spouse should ever misappropriate the funds, so there is still some protection available).

My wife is working part time drawing up wills for people. Since we have no kids and no huge assets other than our house right now, she isn't worried about us having one. Probably in about 2 or 3 years we will be drafting some wills, though.

If I die without a will, my family gets a small book collection, Goodwill gets a few clothes, and everyone else gets squat.

Hmmm, this gives me an this (drawing up wiolls for people) something I could make money at? Where I draw up the will and the high-priced lawyer merely reviews it?

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