Real Time Web Analytics

Friday, April 15, 2011

What happens to my child's inheritance if he or she dies before me?

I was asked this question at last week's seminar, and in fact I hear this question regularly. The real or underlying question is whether the child's inheritance will go to the child's spouse. Very few parents want a deceased child's inheritance to go to that child's spouse.

The answer is simple. What happens to the inheritance is what the parent says in the will. If a parent is concerned about the issue, then he or she had better put together a will that addresses it.

The arrangement favoured most often is that a deceased child's inheritance is split equally among his or her children, with the share of any minors being held in trust to a pre-determined age. For example, if William makes a will leaving his estate to his sons Tom and Joe, but Tom dies before his father does, William's will directs what happens with Tom's share. If William likes the most common arrangement, his will will say that Tom's share is to be divided among Tom's children.

From there, a parent such as William needs to clarify a few points. For example, does he want Tom's step-children to be included? What about the illegitimate child that Tom had in high school and currently has only a superficial relationship with?

William may leave some of Tom's share to Tom's wife if he wants to, though as mentioned above, this is fairly unusual. William must consider whether Tom's wife still gets a share if she and Tom were separated at the time Tom died. William also needs to think about whether Tom's wife should be the trustee of the money held in trust for Tom's children, and if not, who would be a good choice for that job.

Some parents choose that if one of their children has passed away before them, grandchildren don't get anything, nor does the spouse of the deceased child. The share of the estate would be given to the parent's other children. Using the family already described in this post as an example, Tom's share would be given to Joe instead. There could also be an arrangement whereby half (or some other portion) is given to Joe with the rest being given to Tom's children.

Another alternative is that a deceased child's share could be given to a charity.

All jurisdictions have laws in place that describe what will happen if a parent dies leaving a share to a child who has already passed away. These laws kick in if the person hasn't left a valid will. There is no guarantee that the legislated arrangement will be the same as what the parent would have chosen.  If the issue is important to the parent, he or she needs to make a will.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You might also like

Related Posts with Thumbnails