“Managing Your Inheritance: Real Estate, Trust, and Property Law”

“Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it!”

It is not hard to think of a wealthy heir who “is not worth much”: the children of Hollywood stars and pop stars, the local “trust-fund baby”, etc. It seems in many cases that wealth did not do them much good!

An inheritance is a two-edged sword. If you are not prepared to receive it, it won’t likely do much permanent good. When I was much younger, I had a friend who told me the sad story of her brother who waited a lifetime to receive his inheritance and was disappointed in two things: (1) what little was left of the inheritance by the time his mother died, and (2) how he had wasted the best years of his own life waiting to be fulfilled by something he could not control.

Let that story be a lesson to us all! An inheritance can make your life better, but its lasting effects depend on the maturity and discipline of the heir. You can take positive steps now to prepare yourself to inherit assets so that the inheritance becomes the “gift that keeps on giving” rather than a brief and wasteful party.

If you have reason to believe that you are going to inherit substantial assets, you might consider contacting an attorney (and an accountant and a financial advisor) long before you receive your inheritance. Once you receive the inheritance, there will likely be tremendous pressure from spouse, children, friends, cousins, forgotten acquaintances, creditors, and total strangers to spend your new fortune on a variety of causes, noble and not so noble. If you plan now, you can make sure that you will have something left in ten or even twenty years! A trust can be a very useful vehicle for holding lands for your children’s future.

A very common problem with inheritances is the division of lands. There are thousands of tracts in this state which are titled in the name of a parent or grandparent but are now owned by one or several heirs. The heirs are in danger that the creditor of one may force a court action against the land in order to get paid. To avoid this disaster, we are prepared at this law firm to help you open an estate for the deceased owner and to transfer the land to an entity you form, e.g., a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or trust to hold your lands. The rules and manager you set up for the entity would govern the land. Your title to the land would be clear. Leasing or selling the land would be easier. Paying the taxes and negotiating services would fall to the manager or trustee.

The creativity of trusts to govern inheritances and to protect the heirs is almost unlimited. Through trusts, you could take care of someone with special needs or long-term health issues. You could protect wealth from irresponsible spouses and children. You could in many cases shield wealth for life from creditors.

Some lands might be difficult to develop because of their status as wetlands or streambanks, but that does not mean they have no value. There are government entities, non-profits, and land developers who are interested in preserving lands which have water resources, in particular, wetlands and streambanks. Conservation easements are sometimes a possibility by which land owners are paid to keep their lands in a natural state in order to preserve the natural resource.

Feel free to give us a call about any of these things: 404-239-2661.