An important part of any estate plan is communication. Even a well-established plan can create misunderstandings and even legal challenges if your plan hasn't been fully communicated.
Communicating the Plan
Carefully consider and plan how you will handle spouses of your adult children in the estate planning. Parents will sometimes bypass their children's spouse in the estate plan should their own child die before the parents and have the deceased spouse's inheritance go to the grandchildren instead. Farmers sometimes believe this will “keep the farm in the family.”
What may be a well meaning plan may have disastrous consequences for you and your child. In some cases when an adult child dies before their parent, their spouse may be left with large medical bills and lost income from caring for them through an extended illness. By leaving them out of your estate plan, you may create a difficult situation. In addition, if the adult child is aware of the arrangement, they may be feel additional stress, worry, and resentment for what will happen after they're gone.
You can protect in-laws and still keep the farm in the family
There are ways to provide for your late children's spouses. For example, you could provide income for the daughter- or son-in-law through income from the farm assets until their death or remarriage. Life insurance could also be purchased before any illness on your child. A legal advisor can provide options that provide support.
In-laws are part of the family
It's good to remember that your children chose these people to be part of their life, and that makes them part of your family. Give them a voice and include them in the estate planning discussion. Listening now may reduce future conflicts. Ultimately the decision is yours to make. Communicating your plan ahead of time allows everyone to plan ahead.
For more information on estate planning
The following is meant only for educational purposes and not to be construed as legal advice. Consult your legal advisor for actual legal advice.