Toxic Testators


Toxic Testators?

When drafting documents, you should encourage your clients to use language that isn’t designed to enrage those they leave behind. It only fosters discontent and litigation after their death.

If you want to give God a good laugh, tell Him your plans. – Yiddish Proverb

Whether done to even the “score” or leave a lasting legacy of anger in perpetuity, this is not a good idea and won’t work to foster the result intended. In fact, the children who are left all of your estate, while excluding the disfavored child are likely to experience as much or more distress than the child excluded. When counseling clients, I ask them to think twice before excluding a child or treating the children in ways that give greater advantage to one or more of them.

Toxic  Testators – The blame for inheritance disputes invariably falls on the living while the role played by the departed is mostly ignored. – P. Mark Accettura, Blood & Money

If you are looking for ways to foster harmony in an estate plan, counsel your clients to avoid the mistakes many parents make.

Three quick tips-

  1. Treat all of your children equally.
  2. Treat all of your children equally.
  3. Treat all of your children equally.

Parents often treat their children unequally because some of them “just haven’t been as lucky”,  or “are just more needy”. To think that the children left with less than others, because they have a great job, or higher education and greater potential, will agree with your assessment – think again!


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