For Love or Money
Valentine’s Day is a day we celebrate love. For some, our love language is gift giving. Don’t you love those friends and family members who are consistently generous gift givers? They thoughtfully choose the perfect gift and enjoy giving it as much as we enjoy receiving it.
I started reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes again this year. I am in the middle of The Hound of the Baskervilles, a story about how a remote heir to the Baskerville fortune attempts to prevent the nearer heirs from inheriting. At that time, English law allowed transfer of a decedent’s estate as entailed property to the nearest male heir, meaning it passed from male heir to male heir forever and could not be sold or transferred to anyone else. The objective was to keep the family wealth intact. English law has been modified in more recent times, although we see the concept in the order of succession to the British throne. This is why Harry is in line after William’s children. You may also recall the entailed estate woes Jane Austen describes in Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.
In Tennessee, estates tail was abolished in 1784 while we were still part of North Carolina. We are free to leave our wealth to those we love, who are then free to leave it to those they love. Property can be left in trust to accomplish the objective of preserving wealth from waste and division by later generations, but trust property can be freely sold or exchanged.
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, you might reflect on your gift giving. Ask yourself:
- Does my estate plan show my affection for those I love best?
- Does my business succession plan reward and protect those I love best?
- Will my loved ones enjoy receiving the gifts I will leave for them?
- Am I leaving a mess behind for my loved ones to fix?
We are here to help you find your answers. Happy Valentine’s Day!