couple discussing estate plan

Just Say No To Zombie Inspired Estate Planning

It may be Halloween, but that does not mean it is okay to craft an estate plan that is more fit for zombies than humans. Trying to control the actions of your family from beyond the grave by making the gifts you give them conditional on behavior you approve of is more likely to get your will invalidated by a Mississippi judge than get your relatives to fall in line. 

This sort of legal drafting is known as “dead hand control,” and it is something the Palmer & Slay team advises our Brandon, Mississippi area clients against. 

Dead Hand Drama

The thought of dictating exactly how your heirs can spend the money you leave them might be appealing. After all, you don’t want them to waste it, or end up wasting their lives because of it. But trying to control or scold your family after your death is something Mississippi courts frown upon. 

If there are too many strings tied to the assets you leave behind, a resentful relative could choose to challenge your will instead of complying with your wishes. Judges will often side with the challengers in these cases and invalidate restrictions they deem extreme because it is simpler than refereeing disputes over what you actually meant by “if you don’t do x, you will never see a dime.” 

Courts are also likely to strike down conditions that are against public policy. For example, Mississippi law prevents people from entering into contracts that impact a person’s love life. So, if a will says family members can only inherit if they marry someone of the same religion, the courts are not going to enforce that. 

Giving Your Estate Plan Some BRAAAAINS

If you are dead set on laying out some terms and conditions for your heirs to follow, placing your funds in a trust, and giving the trustee the discretion to withhold distributions in certain situations may be an option. 

For example, the trustee could be instructed not to support a family member with substance abuse problems who refuses to seek treatment. Funds may also be withheld unless education goals are met, or if a divorce is imminent and transferring funds to a family member would enrich their ex. 

Setting up a trust is also a good option if your loved one has special needs and would therefore be ill-equipped to manage a large amount of money on his or her own. 

If your thirst for control goes beyond these broad guidelines, you are likely out of luck. No estate plan can force your family to behave exactly how you wish. 

Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones. 

If you have concerns about how your money will be used by your family members after you are gone, working with the experienced estate planning attorneys at Palmer & Slay PLLC is the way to go. We can help you ensure your wealth and your loved ones are protected, without resorting to zombie-inspired estate planning. Please contact us today to set up a meeting.