A Comparison: Luis Suárez and Planning Your Living Trust

Hi there. My name’s Bridget Mackay. I am an attorney in Petaluma, California, and I practice in the area of estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, and trust administrations. Welcome to my blog.

Today I want to talk about why Uruguay’s Luis Suárez’s bite is important when creating your trust. Few things give people more pause than a human biting another human. Watching the clips from that World Cup game, Uruguay against Italy, it was shocking to see Luis Suarez bite Giorgio Chiellini in front of the whole world, essentially. As you may know by now, FIFA has banned him from play for four months or nine international games. He’s let his team down. His Liverpool teammates in the Premier League are let down, as well, because it affects their games. Why would he do such a thing? How does this have any relevance to a blog on planning your living trust? Experts have said his bite was a moment of emotion triumphing over reason. In the heat of the match, he did this. And any time emotion overcomes reason, there is trouble.

The same is true when we die and our children are dividing our estates. I’ve seen it numerous times. I’ve seen countless cases in my practice and in the media where emotions drive siblings to do very unreasonable things. In this situation, it was Suarez’s third bite. So there were two prior bites. What could Liverpool, or the coaches for the Uruguay national team, have done to minimize the risk of it happening again at such a crucial time, not only in his career, but in the career of the national Uruguay team? Could they address it beyond suspending him? Could they have forced treatment? Some things should have been done to keep this incredible player in the game instead of jeopardizing his team, his country, and his career.

You, as parents, can make that connection as well. As parents, while you’re creating your trust, do you have a problem child like Luis Suarez? Maybe not biting, but maybe other issues? And what can you do to minimize their problems’ impact on their siblings, your estate, or even themselves?

My first advice is, wake up, admit the truth. Admit this child is a problem. You know it. Your kids most likely know it. Everybody knows it, and oftentimes these issues are hidden under the rug and nobody wants to talk about it. Clearly, it was the case with Luis Suarez. He’s a phenomenal player. So he had a couple bites. Well, it has some serious consequences.

The first thing you want to do is admit to yourself that you have a problem child and get out of denial. The second is, try and address it specifically with them. If you are in the process of creating a living trust or you have put it off because you have this problem child and you’re not sure what to do about it, tell them what you want to do in the trust to mitigate their issues, and preserve as much of the trust for them in the future going forward, and minimize conflict between themselves and their siblings.

Finally, once the communication has happened, which I know is easier said than done, address it in your living trust. Do they need an incentive? What is their problem and can I address it in the trust? Do they need an incentive trust? Do they need a spend thrift trust, where their spending is curbed or monitored or regulated? Also, don’t make them the trustee. Even though your problem child might be the oldest child and you think that should be the person to be the trustee, the oldest child, don’t do it. Choose someone more responsible that will have authority over the problem child, or get an independent trustee who can manage all of those issues. If you don’t take measures to deal with them, you cause problems for them, your other children, and ultimately can destroy or significantly reduce your hard-earned assets that you’re trying to pass on to your heirs.

If you have any questions and you’re creating a living trust, and you have a Luis Suarez child in your midst, contact a qualified estate planning attorney who will help you.

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