As poet Geoffrey Chaucer attested centuries ago, “Time and tide wait for no man.” For the second time in as many years, survivors have turned to me for help when a loved one died unexpectedly, leaving behind wills or trusts that no longer reflected the decedent's wishes. In each case, the survivors had been disinherited due to a previous break in relationship with the decedent. The broken relationships were later restored, but then death intervened before the decedents had a chance to update their wills and trusts. The result? Heartbreak that could have been avoided if only the decedents had been more diligent.
Year end is a time when we take stock in so many ways. We take a final look at our charitable giving and begin to prepare for tax season. We plan, shop, decorate, and otherwise get ready for the holidays. We have the furnace inspected and hire a snow removal service or get our snow blowers tuned up. I’d like to suggest that we all add one more item to those year-end lists: Reviewing our estate plans.
Please take 15 minutes or a half hour and look over your estate plan documents to ensure that they still fit well. Have you named the right people to be in charge under each document? If you are married, will your spouse have the desired level of flexibility and control upon your death or disability? If you have young children, do you still feel good about your guardian and conservator appointments? Has your financial situation changed to the extent that the beneficiaries and distribution timetables following your death no longer make sense? If you have a trust, is it properly funded?
If you find anything in your estate plan documents that needs updating or you simply have questions, please give us a call at 248.477.6300.