I may not have won but I did beat my husband

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“We should definitely all play on hard mode.”


“We need to set a timer.”


“Should we give the younger kids a handicap?”


“We should all start playing at the same time and assign points for the fastest solve and the least number of attempts.”


Marks family 2022The Marks family beach week reunion was held this year in Grayton Beach earlier this month. There were sixteen of us ranging in age from five years old to eighty, comprised of my in-laws and their three adult children and their families. Everyone attended, including my daughter who flew in from Colorado and my son who flew home from six months traveling overseas.


Most of us had been playing the online word puzzle game, Wordle, for a while and were sharing our results daily on a group text. We thought it would be fun to organize a Wordle tournament during beach week. But first, we had to agree upon the tournament rules.


After much back and forth the first day, we finally agreed to keep it simple. No timer, you can start whenever you want, take as long as you want, hard or “easy” mode, and share your results with the group at the end of the day when scoring would take place. Points were assigned based on the number of tries it took you to solve the puzzle with the least number of points for the week being declared the winner.


In theory, everyone being in the room at the same time working on the puzzle together seemed like a fair idea. However, practically, it would be a logistical nightmare with some folks rising at the crack of dawn and other family members going to bed at that time. To gather sixteen of us in the same room at the same time was just not gonna happen.


I have similar discussions with clients during their estate planning consultations. Sometimes an idea sounds great in theory but to put it into practice will create logistical issues that may become impractical.


For example, sometimes a spouse in a second marriage wants to financially provide for their husband or wife when they die but ultimately preserve their money for their children. One option is to leave money in trust for their spouse for their lifetime and then allow the remaining trust funds to pass to their children when their spouse dies.


But some practical decisions to carry out this plan need to be decided first.


Who will be the trustee, the person in charge of the trust during the spouse’s lifetime? If it is your spouse, who is monitoring the use of the trust assets during his/her lifetime to ensure they do not overspend, misuse, or squander the trust assets such that there may be nothing left to pass along to your kids when your spouse dies?


If the spouse will not be in charge of the trust during their lifetime, then who will be instead? Your children? Will that not create a conflict of interest between your spouse and your children with your children wanting to preserve trust assets while your spouse wants to live comfortably according to their accustomed standard of living?


What about a professional, independent trustee to manage the trust? This sounds good too but will you have enough money in the trust to meet the professional trustee’s minimum mandatory thresholds before they will take on the responsibility? Are you willing for your trust to pay the professional trustee fees which can range between 1-2% annually, plus out-of-pocket expenses?


There are no right or wrong solutions when designing one’s estate plan, but there are practical considerations which frankly, many DIY-er’s do not think through.


Sometimes the simplest solution turns out to the best practical solution, such as leaving money outright to both your kids and your spouse at the time of your death. This may not be possible, however, if you do not think you have enough money to go around. But these are discussions worth having with your estate planning advisor in the design stages of your estate plan.


Alas, I did not win the 2022 Marks Family Wordle tournament. My sister-in-law won amidst some controversy since she missed solving the daily puzzle one day.


But I did beat my husband which, as you may remember from an earlier post this summer of his constant heckling of me, was even sweeter! 


Kristen “Not Yet A Wordle Master” Marks


P.S. We have another estate planning attorney who is joining My Pink Lawyer® part-time. She is accepting new appointments at this time. 850-439-1191


P.S. Please let me know if you have children’s clothing (any size, either gender) or inflatable balls (soccer, volleyball, basketball) you are looking to donate. I am gathering clothes and easily transportable toys for children in Zihuatanejo, Mexico which I will take down in October. I’m also looking for a suitcase you may be willing to donate.


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