You’ve worked way too hard to leave your estate plan to chance. Stop procrastinating and protect your family and loved ones and your hard-earned legacy today. However, when doing so, there are numerous pitfalls of which you should be aware.
A simple Google search can reveal some harrowing examples of those pitfalls. This is part one of a multi-part series of what can happen when Estate Planning goes wrong:
Pitfall Possibility #1: Picking An Inappropriate Personal Representative
Are there any long-standing feuds in your family? Does your anticipated Personal Representative live near you? Who will handle your final affairs in an appropriate and fair manner?
These are all questions to spend some time thinking about when determining the best person or persons to act on your behalf after your death. Read on to review an example of what can happen if these things aren’t considered properly:
“When you’re dealing with families, things can get complicated—quick. We see so many cases come through with unresolved feuds between siblings. It’s one of the most common causes of litigation over an estate.
I handled one case where a client’s sister had been named the executor of their father’s estate, despite the fact that she lived in a different state than both her father and brother, whom she’d been fighting with for years.
Ideally, in a case like that, the parents would have named an objective, independent personal representative—like another family member or a trusted friend—as their estate’s executor, instead of one of the kids.
But that didn’t happen here.
After the father passed away, our client started to take care of a few things around the house, not realizing he didn’t have the legal right to do so. Once his sister arrived, there were accusations about items being removed—and a long legal battle ensued.
Ultimately, even though the estate was to be divided evenly, our client’s sister had all of the decision-making power to decide how that happened, so long as the monetary value was equal. There is no way to challenge her decisions in court, and we’re still waiting to see whether or not the siblings can put their feelings aside and divide the estate fairly.
To avoid contentious situations like this, we counsel clients to consider the complicated dynamics between the family members named in a will. If there’s even a possibility of an estate causing fights or damaging relationships, we encourage them to look for an independent personal representative who can settle things fairly.”
—Tom Gisriel, attorney at Pessin Katz Law, Baltimore, Md.
Mr. Gisriel finishes his story with some valuable advice: Consider complicated dynamics between family members and think about an independent Personal Representative if those dynamics will damage relationships –a neutral family friend? Your Attorney?
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Avoid these headaches by putting your Estate Plan in motion today by meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney where you reside.
Heidi S. Webb provides competent, experienced and trusted Estate Planning and Probate Estate Administration services to clients in the Daytona Beach, Florida area. Call today to schedule your free legal consultation.
Original Article with “case studies” located at https://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/estate-planning-mistakes