By Philip Kavesh, Attorney
Would you drive a car without auto insurance and just wait to get it until after you have a bad accident?
Would you own a home without homeowner’s insurance and instead defer purchasing it till after you suffer a serious fire?
Would you go without any health insurance, until after you encounter a serious health emergency?
Well, hopefully, the answer to all these is NO!
Yet, consider this. Do you have proper, up to date insurance for your entire lifetime’s hard-earned assets?
I’m not talking about life insurance (although that may also be appropriate for you). I’m talking about a properly drafted and maintained estate plan, including a Living Trust.
A Few Cautionary Tales
Here’s a situation we have seen occur too many times. A couple goes to the effort of attending one of our free seminars, and even makes an appointment to see us, but never comes in and gets any farther. Later, when one or both of the couple becomes incapacitated or dies, their children find our seminar handouts in their parents’ desk drawer, marked up with their notes. The children come in to see us about handling their parents’ estate matters. However, lo and behold, the attorney checks our records and, unfortunately, has to tell the children, “We’re sorry but your parents never came in and actually did their estate plan! There’s not much, if anything, we can do now without going through a long, expensive Court process!”
That’s a very sad situation indeed, where Mom and Dad wanted to take care of things, but didn’t get around to finalizing a plan. But here’s an even sadder story where someone did an estate plan but failed to keep it up to date.
The Disregarded Post-It Note
This too is an actual case, just ruled upon by a California Court of Appeals. A man had a Living Trust and after being diagnosed with cancer, decided to revise his Trust, in particular to change how much each of his beneficiaries would receive and to add a new one. He wrote a post-it note on his Trust document and forwarded them to an attorney to formalize the revision to his Trust. But, before he could come in and sign the amendment, he passed away.
The beneficiaries went into Court for clarification. Although the man had clearly indicated the changes he wanted, and done so in his own handwriting, the Court declared it wasn’t a legally binding document. Unforunately, his wishes didn’t get carried out.
The Moral of These Stories
Take care of getting a properly documented estate plan in place, before you or your spouse becomes too ill or incapacitated to do so, or becomes deceased.
If you’re a client of ours and you haven’t been in for a free checkup meeting within the last 3 years, please call us and set it up!
And if you have no estate plan at all, maybe it’s finally time you should! Attend one of our free seminars to find out what’s involved (and to also qualify for a fee discount!)
Here’s to Happy Estate Planning and, of course, a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year! (And many more!!)