Barrett Legacy Estate Solutions

Why Snow White’s Father Should Have Had an Estate Plan

Many of us are familiar with the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Central to the story is the relationship between Snow White and her stepmother. After losing his wife, the king decided to marry again to provide a motherly influence for his daughter, Snow White. While things were peaceful for a while, once the king passed away, the Queen’s true colors came to light.

Feeling threatened that Snow White was the “fairest of them all,” she arranged to have Snow White killed. However, as most of us know, the huntsman showed mercy on Snow White and allowed her to escape. Eventually, after living with the seven dwarfs and meeting Prince Charming, she marries the prince, and her stepmother dies.

Although this scenario seems somewhat extreme, this fairy tale shows the conflict that can exist when the unifying member of the family dies without an estate plan. Had the king engaged with an estate planning attorney to put his affairs in order, the outcome of this story might have been drastically different.

While we do not know what the king’s wishes were, if he had written them down in a legally enforceable manner, we would know and they could have been enforced. To carry out his wishes, the king could have created a revocable living trust during his lifetime. This planning tool would have allowed him to name himself as the current trustee and to designate a co-trustee or backup trustee if he was unable to act. The trust would have allowed him to continue enjoying his assets during his lifetime and designate who would inherit from him upon his death without probate court involvement. This would protect the inheritances of his loved ones and keep prying eyes out of his affairs.

An Estate Plan Would Have Appointed Someone to Be in Charge:

Once the king passed away, the law would dictate who could step in to handle his affairs if he did not have a legally valid estate plan. The stepmother might be at the top of the list as the surviving spouse, and because she was older than Snow White, she might have had more leverage to step in and take control. By creating an estate plan, the king could have appointed and empowered a trusted person as the personal representative under his last will and testament or as a successor trustee under this trust to handle his affairs.

An Estate Plan Would Have Protected Inheritances:

Given Snow White’s young age when her father passed, it is likely that she was too young to manage a large sum of money or rule a kingdom without some guidance and oversight. Therefore, whatever he wanted to leave behind for Snow White could have been held in trust for her, either under his will as a testamentary trust or as a subtrust of his revocable living trust. A trust would have allowed him to craft specific instructions on when and how Snow White would receive her inheritance.

Snow White Could Have Had a Better Guardian:

Upon the king’s passing, a decision had to be made about who would look after Snow White. In this instance, it appears as though her stepmother was in control and did not make for a kind or caring guardian. However, had the king truly thought about this, he could have nominated someone else. Perhaps there was a grandparent, aunt, or uncle who would have been able to step in—instead of the dwarfs who ultimately took care of her. A guardian’s nomination is usually included in a last will and testament or pour-over will. While this is just a nomination made by the deceased parent, it can carry significant weight when a judge is looking to appoint a suitable guardian.

Help Ensure a Fairy Tale Ending for Your Loved Ones:

While the story of Snow White is just a fairy tale, important lessons can be learned. We all want our loved ones to have happy endings. We can help you take steps to avoid the bad outcomes that are part of the typical fairy tales. To discuss ways we can help you craft your happily ever after, give us a call.