By: Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho
Bill and Dolly, high school sweethearts, married when they turned 50. From previous marriages, Bill had three children and Dolly had two. Now they are in their 80’s and are conflicted about how to set up their estate plan to cover the distribution of their assets when they are both gone. They are clear – when one dies, the other will receive everything. Their problem is how to divide their property at the second death. Here are the usual choices:
• Give everything to the children of the last one to die
• Divide everything in half, with one-half going to Dolly’s two children, and one-half to Bill’s three children.
• Distribute the estate in five equal shares.
If they make no decision, and have no estate plan in place, the result will be all assets go to the children of the last to die, and the others will receive nothing. That’s the “whoever dies last wins” scenario.
There is no right or wrong choice. A decision made now by Bill and Dolly will help reduce the heartache between the five children when they die.