Do You Have A Child That Refuses To Grow Up?
Do you remember back when you were a child and Mom or Dad would read you a bedtime story? As you were tucked into bed, all sorts of characters and creatures would float through your imagination. Often, these stories held an important lesson or message for kids. However, there are lessons for adults in these stories as well. In today's episode of "Estate Planning by the Book", we'll take a look at the story of Peter Pan.
Classic folk tales often end with the conclusion "They lived happily ever after." That should be the same result for a properly prepared family estate plan.
3 Traditional Children And 1 Wild Child
Wendy, John, and Michael are siblings in a London family. After disrupting their parent's plans to go out for a party one evening, their father shouts at Wendy out of frustration. He tells her that she is getting too old to be playing "make-believe" with her younger brothers. He says that she must stay in her own room beginning the next day. As Wendy, John, and Michael are settling in to sleep later that night, however, something magical happens.
A charming young boy appears and introduces himself as Peter Pan. With his pixie friend, Tinkerbell, he helps the children to fly off with him to a magical island called Neverland.
Upon arriving, the group goes on a variety of adventures and encounter pirates, mermaids, crocodiles, and other wild things. Peter shows that he is a talented boy and delights the children with his antics and bravado.
Peter Pan And His Unwillingness To Mature
However, one of Peter Pan's strongest characteristics is his refusal to grow up. He repeatedly states that he will never grow up and even refuses an offer from Wendy to go back to London to live with her and her family.
In the book, they encounter Mrs. Darling, Wendy's mother. Mrs. Darling came to the window, for, at present, she was keeping a sharp eye out for Wendy. She told Peter that she had adopted all of the other "Lost Boys" and would like to adopt him as well.
"Would you send me to school?" he inquired craftily.
"And then, send me to an office?"
Mrs. Darling says "I suppose so."
"Soon I should be a man?" he asked.
And Mrs. Darling says "very soon."
"I don't want to go to school and learn solemn things," he told her passionately. "I don't want to be a man. Oh Mrs. Darling, if I was to wake up and feel, why I'd even have a beard!"
As a parent, it can be very fulfilling to watch our children grow and mature into healthy adults. However, some of us have children who take a while to grow up, and like Peter Pan, want to be children and be immature for a lot longer than perhaps they should be.
From A More Mature Perspective
Let's take another look at the story from an estate planning perspective.
In Peter Pan's case, it would be wise for his parents to protect him from his impulsive and childish nature by setting up a trust. This would give him access to his inheritance, through a trustee, over a period of time, rather than in one lump sum. Additionally, if Peter decided to foolishly purchase more swords, slippers, or pixie dust, he wouldn't be allowed to. He wouldn't be left empty handed after he finally decides that maybe he should grow up after all.
In summary, a trust can be a great way to protect your children, even from their own unwise habits. Trusts are very flexible and can be tailored to each family's unique needs.
An Attorney You Can Trust
Bill Peterson is a Minnesota Estate Planning Attorney with over 40 years of experience as a lawyer. He can help you plan for the future by creating a Minnesota Estate Plan. For more information, please visit http://www.mnestateplan.com or call toll free at 952-641-7312.
The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning.