A Case Study In Boomers Disinheriting Their Kids

Who knew that Marketwatch had an advice column, and does that mean what I think it means about where old folks are getting family relationship advice today? Not all Boomers are like this but if you are then you might be a Boomer.

My wife and I are in our 60s. Should we skip our undeserving children and leave everything to our grandkids instead?

‘We don’t want the middle generation to gain from our estate, while cheating our grandkids out of their rightful inheritance’

h ttps://www.marketwatch.com/story/my-wife-and-i-are-in-our-60s-should-we-skip-our-3-undeserving-children-and-leave-everything-to-our-4-grandkids-instead-2021-02-22

By Quentin Fottrell, 22 February 2021

Dear Quentin,

My wife and I are in our mid-sixties and we are both retired. My parents have passed on. I have no living siblings or children. My wife has 3 adult children in their 40s. None of them are mature, responsible adults. (Alcohol, drugs, can’t hold a decent full-time job etc.).

Just like you, then? Aside from the slight possibility that Mommy was widowed in her mid-20s, this guy doesn’t have a history of good life decisions either.

They have 4 children. We have to make some tough decisions regarding estate planning.

What’s the rush? It’s only been a full year of a life-ending plague so severe that only total government control of society has allowed us to survive even this long. That’s not actually true but it’s what this age demographic overwhelmingly believes is true, so I wonder why now?

Is it a viable option to skip the “middle generation” and bequeath all to the 4 grandkids? They are aged between 10 and 18.

You want to Cancel your impoverished kids in order to convert your grandkids into literal Trust Fund babies?

We don’t want the “middle generation” to gain from our estate, while cheating our grandkids out of their rightful inheritance, and we don’t want our life savings burned up by 3 undeserving kids while the grandchildren suffer. Can a trust or will assure us that our desired plan will actually happen?

Concerned Grandparents

Oookay, so it’s not about coming to terms with your mortality. It’s about alienating your kids, who are messed up but totally not because of the broken family they had to endure at a young age or growing up in a society that hates them so completely that check-outs like drugs have become attractive…. a society that hates them so completely that their own parents are disgusted at the idea of giving them anything for free.

It’s possible that the GenXers here are true degenerates. One should not give an inheritance to somebody who is likely to squander it on fentanyl but the reason is because you love them and don’t want to facilitate their self-destruction. Not because they don’t deserve it.

It is not acceptable to disinherit your kids because you don’t like them or because they don’t have “good, full-time jobs” in an economy that is vigorously destroying the very concept. Furthermore, it’s an insult to your kids to both 1. disinherit them because they’re bad human beings and 2. give the inheritance to their kids because they’re turning out well. Which is it?

“Can a trust or will assure us that our desired plan will actually happen?”

It’s not about you anymore, Gramps. What your kids do with what you leave behind is for them to decide, not you. You’ve had your time, lived your life and made your choices. It is not your place to thwart your kids by skipping a generation. Not without better reasons than what you’ve given.

“We don’t want the “middle generation” to gain from our estate, while cheating our grandkids out of their rightful inheritance”

That’s an interesting concept: “rightful inheritance”. Let’s explore that concept in the context of Marketwatch’s response.

Dear Grandparents,

Can you skip the middle generation? You can. May you skip the middle generation? You may. I don’t want to sound like an elementary-school teacher, so let me reassure you that my opinion is not a judgment call on whether you should or shouldn’t, it is merely a vote of confidence for you to trust your gut and always remember that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

Of course a Sodomite working as an NYC journalist sees no problem with leaving one’s inheritance to a professional conservator instead of a man’s own family.

I didn’t see any asking for permission in the letter. It would have been interesting if Gramps had asked because it would indicate he was seeking permission to act against Grandma’s wishes for her own children. It’s depressing to watch so many mothers exhibit maternal instincts that would shame a scorpion.

A trust is a more private option than a will, and you can obviously set out terms of that trust, and give the beneficiaries an income instead of a lump sum, if you don’t feel comfortable that your grandchildren would give the money to their parents to support bad habits. You could also provide money from the trust for, say, to help toward a down payment for a home in the beneficiaries’ name.

That is the only step worse than disinheriting your kids: using their inheritance as a post-mortem behavior modification tool. Nothing says “rightful inheritance” like forcing Junior to jump through hoops to win your wallet!

Alternatively, you could add terms to the trust to encourage good behavior in your wife’s 3 children. “Incentive distribution schemes are common ways clients encourage productivity. If a beneficiary is in school, cash distributions from the trust can be made only if the beneficiary maintains a certain grade point average,” according to The Sketchley Law Firm.

I read it “Sketchy Law Firm” and man does that boot fit.

Similarly, any distribution to your kids or grandkids could require proof that they have been alcohol- or drug-free for X years. ”Distributions may be conditioned on continued participation in drug and alcohol counseling, completion of in-patient rehabilitation programs, or remaining free of any further criminal or traffic violations related to drugs or alcohol,” The Sketchley Law Firm adds.

That’s the way to do it, Baby Boomers! Make your kids beg for their inheritances even after they’re adults and you are dead!

Your letter comes at an opportune time. I moderated a “MarketWatch: Mastering Your Money” online town hall, and I hosted a session on setting up wills and trusts with Elizabeth Forspan, an estate-planning attorney and partner at Forspan Klear and Amy Zehnder, managing director at Leadership and Legacy Consultant, Ascent Private Capital Management of U.S. Bank.

Zehnder summed up the difference between a will and a trust thus: “You don’t want all of your stuff to be visible to everyone, dumped in the front yard. And that’s probate! Trusts help to maintain privacy.” Should you decide to have a conversation with your kids about a trust, and you are under no obligation to do so, Zehnder suggests using words like “hopes, dreams, achieve and preserve.”

Boomers, please don’t take family relationship advice from your 401k managers.

Forspan recommends that wills and trusts should be revisited and, if need be, updated every 4 to 5 years. “Anytime, there is any major change in the tax law, or if there is any change in your family situation, or you get divorced, married or, God forbid, if someone in your family dies, you should always have a plan. And appoint a power of attorney should you become incapacitated.”

There is much you can do to help your children and your grandchildren, whether they see it that way or not.

Holy feckless arrogant solipsism, Batman! Does it count as COVID when they get smothered with a pillow?

It is a perennial, generational temptation to wonder what will happen after you’re gone. Maturity teaches that your are not the architect of history; you have a small part to play and eventually, you’re finished for better or worse. I deal with that myself, trying to find a good apprentice to teach what I know before “the golden bowl is broken”, to quote Ecclesiastes. (I’m only in my forties myself but time is running out for civilization.) While I naturally want a successor who shares my beliefs, lacking that I will teach who I can because every man deserves the chance to succeed.

Disinheriting your own children because they didn’t turn out as well as you’d wanted, or micromanaging their lives post-mortem… that is a prideful arrogance of a level that is hard to even imagine. “My kids deserve nothing good from me because they’re still working McJobs at age 40 and they’re struggling with addictions like my Free Love Generation never did” is… wow.

And yet, the grandkids deserve “their rightful inheritance”? How does that work? That language suggests that an inheritance should not be contingent on good behavior. I cannot help but believe that the way these not-old-enough-to-drink grandkids “deserve” their inheritance is merely that they’re fun for Grandpa to hang out with in a way that middle-aged veterans of divorce in a failing economy rarely are.

4 thoughts on “A Case Study In Boomers Disinheriting Their Kids

  1. Sad. I at least hope they are talking about real money and not some B.S. $200k after the funerals are paid for.

    That phrase “rightful inheritance” is very intriguing as used here.

    Market Watch advice columns are the best!!! At being the worst.


  2. I have to disagree with you on this one, Gunny. I think it’s commendable and wise to bypass the reprobates and leave everything to the grandchildren in the hope that somehow, someway, somewhere, they will end up better stewards for the inheritance than their parents of the middle generation.
    However, I would like to see provisions in the trust that provide for the “special needs” of the ne’er-do-wells, under the supervision and control of the morally superior and more responsible grandchildren.
    Not knowing them personally, this is hypothetical. It could very well be that the grandchildren are worse than parents, in which case they should liquidate all their assets and spend it all before they die.


  3. Boomers, please don’t take family relationship advice from your 401k managers.

    They’ve exercised generally execrable judgment in every other aspect of their lives, so why not in this one?


  4. You seem to assume that the flaws of the kids are all the result of the parents. The ‘kids’ are 40, they surely bear some responsibility for themselves by now.
    I’d will at least part of the estate directly to the grandkids.


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