Category Archives: Estate Planning

Tom Petty: Beneficiaries Who “Won’t Back Down”

Perhaps the most appropriate musical ode to disgruntled estate beneficiaries that I’ve ever heard is the late Tom Petty’s I won’t back down. This track was the first single off of his 1990 album, Full Moon Fever, and has been a fan favorite since the day it was released. The single opens with the narrator defiantly telling the world, “I won’t back down, no I won’t back down. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.” One of the more frustrating things about the time I spent practicing law was dealing with beneficiaries who must have constantly had Tom’s song playing in the back of their heads as they wasted attorney’s fees trying to settle some ancient score with a sibling, stepchild, or other beneficiary.    Read more »

What can we learn from Chris Cornell of Soundgarden about arranging provisions for your heirs?

Chris Cornell was the greatest singer of his generation (in my humble opinion). The power and emotion Chris poured into his performances took Soundgarden from a local Seattle grunge outfit to a worldwide phenomenon — the first grunge band to sign a major record deal and sales of over 25 million albums. His soaring vocals were also critical to Temple of the Dog and Audioslave, two of his other extremely successful projects. When Chris took his own life two years ago, he left behind a legion of loyal fans, a group of close friends, and a financial dispute that has turned into a legal one. Read more »

The (Extreme) Entitled Adult Child: What Can You Do?

Much has been written about the horrible means by which scammers are relieving senior citizens of their assets by playing on the senior citizen’s fears and/or confusion. The senior receives a phone call or an email from someone pretending to be a friend in need, a collections agent, an IRS agent, or a prince from some far-off country — then the senior gives that person money, access, or both. While these stories are terrible, they are rare compared to the far-more-common financial pressures that can come from one’s own family or inner circle. A client recently summed up these family pressures perfectly when he said that children’s dependence on their parents “can become pathological when the adult child develops a sense of entitlement, they feel they are owed a lifestyle just like their parents, and the parents do not have the skills to process this effectively with their adult children.” Read more »

What do you do when your adult children can’t stand on their own financial feet?

I recently wrote a blog post about some of the challenges parents face when allocating money between spending on their children and saving for their own retirement. In this post, we’ll look at a specific scenario that we see fairly often as financial planners: clients with adult children who have not successfully launched their own financial lives. This picture can be painted with many different brushes — in some instances, parents may be helping children through a temporary bind as they fall on hard times, or in some cases, the adult child has been sheltered from real-world economic decisions and is facing a steep learning curve — but at the end of the day, the analysis is the same: how is the extra support for children impacting the parents’ ability to maintain their own lifestyle? Read more »

Does my child need this? Helping parents with the difficult challenges that arise when it comes to kids and spending

The recent college admission scandal has brought to light a subject many financial planners are all too familiar with: parents will sometimes go to ridiculous lengths to support their children. While the headlines may be dominated by the Hollywood names involved in college admission schemes, parents taking unreasonable financial risks for their children is an issue lurking just beneath the surface in many families. Read more »