California Estate Planning Attorney Kavesh Minor & Otis

Specifically, Albert’s trust stipulates that every two years, in August or September, his nieces and nephews must meet for a reunion in Polk County. Fail to show, and that niece or nephew is cut off for the next two years. “It was incentive to make people come,” says Meg Ravenholt-Hankin, another of Albert’s nieces. “It was his idea and he told the lawyers how he wanted it to work.”

There are gifts to leave your loved ones, to include mementos big and small to remember you by. Sometimes, however, the greatest legacy is not won with bequests and heirlooms.

Just as in life, the greatest gift is truly made in values and in lessons that keep on teaching. For the creative and the forward-thinkers, this can be the goal of an estate plan.

Consider a real-life example in the Ravenholt family of Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star Tribunetells the family story in a recent article titled “Man provides for his heirs, but there’s a condition: They have to reunite every 2 years.

While the title should contain a “spoiler alert,” the Ravenholt family is still receiving from the largesse of the recently passed paterfamilias, Albert. Nevertheless, ongoing goodies are conditional. The entire clan of some 25 nieces and nephews only receive this largesse if they meet the right conditions.

Here is the catch – every two years each family member is required to settle back in at the family hometown of Luck, MN for a family reunion. Consequently, only those who attend receive distributions from the family trust

You see, Albert was a man of contradictions. While he had a wanderlust soul, he grew to have a firm appreciation for family. Albert believed that the many branches of a family can learn to wander and seek their own, but that these branches should never forget to come together. The individual annual distributions are not large (a thousand or so each time), but it is enough to bring most of the family back together just as Albert had hoped.

So, take a look at Albert’s decisions and the story of the Ravenholt clan. It just might spawn a few ideas of your own. It is, if nothing else, one more testimonial to the power of creative planning and planning with the right tools.

Albert knew what he wanted and found the right balance of incentive and security in the form of a trust, with some special rules to make it all work.

You might not be throwing a family reunion in Luck every few years, or anywhere for that matter, but maybe you do have goals for your family and a way to incentivize their fulfillment.

For more information, please visit my estate planning website.

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Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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