How NOT to Plan your Estate

Your death will create problems. There will be three types - emotional, legal and financial. You can do certain things now, while you're alive, to reduce or increase these problems and make your heirs either love you or hate you.


You can increase the emotional upset after your death by leaving your affairs in a mess. Hide your will, or better still, don't make one. Have a number of secret bank accounts and investments.

Keep the records of your assets and liabilities scattered in so many different places that even you couldn't remember where they all are. Make only a mental summary of the things you own and owe - don't write them down.

Assume that you'll always have total control of your faculties and a perfect memory. Plan to live forever.


Creating legal problems after your demise can further aggravate the emotional trauma. Hide or destroy legal documents. If you own an interest in a business, avoid making a buy-sell agreement. If you're forced to have one, make sure it conflicts with the terms of your will.

Announce at least once a month that you're planning on revising your will, then die without one. If you do make a will, name your Spanish-speaking second cousin in Brazil as your sole executor and your great grandfather as the guardian of your infant children, without telling them. Trust no one.


Increasing the emotional and legal problems will, of course, increase the expenses your death will create. However, the experts your family will have to hire to straighten out the mess will be appreciative.

You can make the financial problems even worse for your family by leaving as little money as possible and having what little you do leave go to strangers. Emphasize that you expect a very expensive funeral, a three-day wake and an Italian marble mausoleum.

Specify the use of the top legal and accounting firms to advise your executors. Then leave as little cash as possible. Leave only assets that cannot be sold for one reason or another. If they can be sold, make sure the money must go to creditors.

If you have a business buy-sell agreement, make sure it is under-funded. Don't buy any life insurance. If you have some, cancel it. Try to leave your family totally destitute.

Yes, the foregoing is tongue firmly in cheek and the exact opposite is recommended. It is unfortunate, though, just how many estates will compound the problems for those left behind. Simple steps can lessen the problems created by either your death or the death of another loved one.

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