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Inheritance is Like a Lottery

Posted on October 1st, 2020

Estate Planning Attorneys

A few weeks ago, I bought a couple of lottery tickets. I don’t usually do that, but I did that day. And I won the Power Ball. $29,000,000 jackpot. The only number I got was the Power Ball. My winnings – $4. I was sad I didn’t get any of the other $28,999,996, but that is the way it played out. After I bought my tickets, I imagined what I could do with $29,000,000. Mmm, it was good. But, the $28,999,996 just wasn’t mine. Only the $4.

Inheritance is like the lottery. First, you have to “buy the ticket.”  You have to be a descendant, and you have to treat your parents (or whomever you hope will leave you a part of their estate) very well, such as: help them with home upkeep and maintenance, talk to them often, visit them at least once a year, take care of them as they age. And remember, like any lottery, you are not guaranteed that you will receive anything.

Then you wait it out. You never know how much you will “win” until the drawing – when your parents pass to the next world. One family I know was ready to sell the house, until they found out their surviving parent had put a reverse mortgage on the house to finance her meager living. They received and split a small bank account.

Some lottery players try to ensure their winnings. I’ve known children who had their surviving parent add their names with hers on one of the parent’s two bank accounts, and then told Mom she could not spend ANY money out of that account. When I informed Mom and the children that Mom could spend any and all of her money, the children took her out of my office, never to return.

Sometimes, regardless that you are the one investing the most in time and assistance for your parents, you end up with an equal share. Sometimes, people think parents have become too much bother; people move away, people lose touch, or estate plans are not updated. No one said life would be fair, especially with lotteries. So you get an equal share with the other people.

I tell my clients:  “Fair does not always mean ‘equal’.”  For the parents, this means updating their estate plan when circumstances change. For children, to win the lottery means living by the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have others to do unto you.”  Or put another way:  “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

For more information, contact one of our estate planning attorneys. Call Silverman Law Office today.

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