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Seaman & Seaman, A Law Corporation
Addressing Legal Issues For Your California Family's Past, Present And Future

Can I leave money to my children -- and not their spouses?

You have two grown sons who live near your California home.

One of them married a delightful young woman. You consider her the daughter you never had. You know they will be blissfully happy forever.

The other son? His marriage is rocky, and you don't think he and his spouse will last long term.

So, as you prepare your estate plan, can you make sure that the money you worked so hard for through the years stays with your son and future grandchildren -- and not his someday-to-be ex-wife?

Yes, if you structure your estate plan correctly.

Start off by discussing your estate with your children. Tell them you want to make sure the money helps your children but let them know you want your grandchildren to get some benefit, too. Inform them that you intend for them to keep this money in their name only. Once the money has been co-mingled, it becomes marital property.

If your children haven't married yet, encourage them to sign a prenuptial agreement that states any inheritance will remain nonmarital property.

You also can set aside a percentage of your estate for your grandchildren that bypasses your children. A fund can be set aside for them for a specific purpose, such as their college education. An IRA also can be left to them directly to grow in value through the years.

These are just a couple of options of how to leave money directly to your children and grandchildren that can bypass nonblood relatives. An attorney experienced in estate planning will be able to provide you with several options of how to establish your estate so that it gives maximum benefit to the people of your choice.

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