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Monday, March 7, 2011

Five ways to punish your beneficiaries

Want to create the most confusion possible when you pass away? Do you want your kids to have to fight each other for their inheritance? Are you interested in losing chunks of your assets to lawyers and the CRA? If so, you're not alone. Plenty of people set things up in a way that makes things tough on their kids and other beneficiaries. Read on for a list of the most popular things you should do if you want your estate to be truly memorable for its disputes and delays.

1.  Lend one of your kids a big chunk of money during your lifetime, and tell him he doesn't have to pay it back. But don't tell this to the other kids, and definitely don't mention it in your will. Let them figure out whether it's to be paid back or not. Your children will all have a chance either to gang up on the one who received the loan, or to take sides and duke it out. Fun!

2.  Name ALL of your children together to represent you on your will, your Power of Attorney and your Health Care Directive. That way nobody gets to decide anything and it will take ten times as long for things to be wound up, prolonging the agony. If a couple of your children don't get along that well, they'll have to deal with each other every single day. Everyone will be upset all the time. There are few things as satsifyingly contentious.

3.  Leave the title to your house or cottage to all of your children as joint tenants. While you're at it, place a bet on how long it will take this arrangement to fall apart. To make absolutely sure that this is as problematic as possible, leave no funds in trust to pay for maintenance of the building. This idea is great because it not only messes up the kids as beneficiaries, it spoils their relationship with each other - a double whammy.

4.  Put  a bank account or investment in joint names with one of your children. Be coy with the kids about whether the child is supposed to own the account after you die, or whether the arrangement is just for convenience. Definitely don't leave any instructions in writing! It will be fun knowing that the children will be busy for a year or two fighting over the account and won't have time to get bored.

5.  I've saved the best for last. If you really want to punish your children, don't put any documents in place at all! Let them compete over who gets to be in charge. Let them argue over who gets what and how things are to be done. That'll show 'em.

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