Tricky Items in Estate Planning

1. Vacation Homes.  If you leave your vacation home to your children in your Estate Plan, there is going to be a potential for problems.  Conflicts can arise when one sibling lives farther away, earns less or wants to sell their share.  One of the worst things to do with your vacation home is to leave it outright to your children in equal shares.  Therefore, it is best to talk with your children first and learn their preferences.  You can then put the real estate in a Trust and make your children the beneficiaries.  The Trust will spell out under what conditions the home can be sold, how the time sharing schedule will be put together, and how the upkeep is going to be paid.  It is also possible to make monetary provisions to cover costs.

2. Pets.  You have a pet that you leave to your family member or friend with the belief they will take care of your beloved pet.  In addition, you leave this family member or friend a sum of money for the care of the pet.  What prevents them from taking the money and abandoning your pet?  The answers is a Pet Trust.  It can be accomplished by adding a simple line in your Last Will and Testament stating who is to care for the pet, how much money you have left for the pet’s care, and the Court will enforce the provision.  Want more control?  You can draft a detailed Pet Trust setting out who will take care of your pet and  who will be the trustee to handle the funds you set aside to care for your pet’s needs.  Since the Pet Trust will own your pet, the caretaker can be removed if the standards are not met and the trustee can assign someone else to properly care for your pet.

3. Frequent Flyer Miles.  Although frequent flyer miles can be worth a nice sum, you may not be able to pass on the wealth.  In fact, some carriers explicitly state that you cannot bequeath any miles.  Solution?  Check with your airline.  It may be that you will need to spend down the miles before your death.  Perhaps you can buy trips for other people.  Be careful when transferring miles as you may rack up fees.  It is worth checking into as you never know what the answer may be.