Estate Planning Stories: "Mother Knows Best"

Case Study: They are both right, yet wrong. Apr 24, 2018 969

For young families, the idea of estate planning often seems far too taboo and distant. After all, what little assets do young people have? Dying and leaving behind one's young children is something of a thought that no one ever wants to entertain.

This was the case for Adrian and Ellie (not their real names) who were a young couple with a glowing 6-year old daughter Hannah. They stretched their finances to ensure that Hannah had the opportunities to pursue her talents. They provided her with a nurturing environment where they sent Hannah to a children's art studio to develop her artistic talents. As a fitness couple, their hobbies included watersports and hitting the gym. They did not remotely fit into what most people see as people who need a Will.

Adrian and Ellie had strong and individualistic parenting principles, where they disliked "tiger-parenting". In contrast, their siblings were ambassadors for "tiger-parenting". Arguments would often arise from their conflicting parenting styles. Given their young age, the news of the couple's death in a fatal car crash due to a drunk driver's negligence came as an abrupt shock. They were both pronounced dead at the scene, while Hannah miraculously survived the car crash thanks to her booster seat. Directly after the incident, Adrian and Ellie's close friends (a couple) stepped in immediately to take care of Hannah.

However, things soon took a turn for the worse, with the ultimate victim being Hannah. As Adrian and Ellie had no Will, Hannah's guardianship was contested; between the couple and Adrian and Ellie's siblings, over what each party firmly believed to be in her best interests. The long dispute resulted in Hannah being placed under government foster care for months. The situation was regretful as a simple Will containing guardianship arrangements would have substantially helped in healing Hannah's emotional trauma. Considering their story today continues to be an emotional one, where one can only imagine the confusion and stress that Hannah; or any child, experiences while being stuck in government foster care for months right after being abruptly separated from his/her parents.

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