A Family Estate Planning Problem (Part One)

parenthood-1024Over the course of a few blog posts I’ll be designing an estate plan for several members of the sprawling Buckman family. They are pretty typical.  You might even know them.

Frank and Marilyn are in their mid-sixties and live in an upscale St. Louis suburb. Frank owns a thriving business, he is, to put it mildly, a control freak. He’s coming to me now because he sees problems looming down the road, particularly with the business.

There are four children. Frank’s mother is still alive, healthy as an ox and sharp as a tack in her late 80’s. Everyone lives within blocks of one another.

 Tod
Tod

Helen is the oldest, she has two children from her first marriage, a new baby from her second. Her first husband is completely out of the picture. Her eighteen-year-old daughter, Julie, just married, Tod, a nice kid with a propensity for taking red pills, they have a newborn.

Gil is married to Karen and has four kids ranging in ages from nine to newborn. His oldest. Kevin, has some emotional issues. There’s also a question about their four-year-old who seems to enjoy hitting people and things with his head.

Gil Buckman
 Gil Buckman

Gil wants nothing to do with the family business, none of the three oldest Buckman siblings do. He recently received a promotion at his job, although he has dreams of becoming a professional banjo player.

The third child, Susan, is a middle school teacher married to a scientist, Nathan. They have two children. Everyone considers the marriage somewhat shaky as Nathan is a ‘Tiger Dad’ and     occasionally acts like a demented Upper West Side Manhattan CPA.

Nathan
Nathan

Larry is the youngest, Frank admits he’s his favorite even though he was thrown out of Faber College. He is a schemer, always in debt and searching for the next sure thing. He left for Chile and a ‘can’t miss platinum deal’ and left his son with his parents. There’s little doubt he’ll come out of the woodwork if anything happens to his father.

Larry Buckman (r.) with Dean Wormer
Larry Buckman (r.) with Dean Wormer

To complicate matters, Frank in fact once offered to let Larry run the company after he retired. There’s no chance Larry would have forgotten that, there’s no chance he won’t try to cash in at some point.

Frank is a driver, was always working while the kids grew up, leaving some hard feelings simmering in the family. Frank hopes to assuage some of those feelings through the planning process by being absolutely fair. He can’t, however, define what fair in this case means.

Stay tuned for my proposed estate plans for Frank and the next generation of Buckmans …..

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