Estate planning is not usually a one-and-done deal. The estate plan you sign today may fit beautifully now, but over time changes in the law or in your circumstances could render your plan obsolete.
Here are some recent examples to illustrate my point:
- My client’s mother failed to update her will after adopting a toddler. The mother’s adult children believed that her estate would go to them, and that the toddler would be taken care of through them. Instead, they were surprised to learn after mom’s death that her will requires everything to be split among all her children, and that as a result the probate court will be overseeing the youngster’s inheritance even though she is being adopted by one of mom’s adult children.
- Another client put off changing his will for years. A friend finally called me when he was dying. I saw him immediately, prepared new documents and brought them to him the next day. Unfortunately, he lapsed into a coma shortly before I arrived and died without waking up. As a result of his procrastination, his sizable estate went to parties that he had intended to completely disinherit.
- Still another client’s father set up a trust decades ago with the intention of avoiding probate upon his death. Dad recently died, and my client has discovered that because the only successor trustee named in the trust no longer exists, the family must now petition the probate court to fill the vacancy.
Far too often I see survivors blindsided by provisions in outdated estate plans. Whenever you experience a major life change, and periodically even when you don’t, it’s a good idea to review your estate plan to make sure it’s still a good fit. If you would like our help with that, please call us at (248) 477-6300.