Last month I started what I consider one of my most important posts –a series regarding the
most common pitfalls I see in Estate Planning.
Part two of my multi-part blog series discusses the pitfall of failing to keep a current/updated Will. This is probably one of the easiest pitfalls to avoid and the most common blunder I see by other people’s clients. I tell my clients to come see me to review everything EVERY three years whether they think they need it or not —to encourage this practice I personally do not charge for these “check-ins” but even if your attorney charges you, go –it’s money well spent.
Case Study: Estate Planning Pitfall #2– Failing to Maintain an Updated Will
I was hired by a young man whose father had recently passed after a lengthy battle with illness, he had two half-siblings
There are numerous pitfalls of which you need to be aware regarding your Estate Plan.
out of state, the decedent had some property here, some property out of state, an ex-girlfriend living in his home. All a recipe for a convoluted case at best case. This will be compounded because although Father had resided in Florida for quite some time his antiquated Will was drafted in another state nearly a decade before his death.
To add insult to injury, because the Will was self-prepared on a form purchased at an office supply store it provided for very specific bequests to each of his 3 children and a close friend. It did not provide for his residuary Estate —what could be called the “everything else” clause. And a decade later all but one of the properties left to his beneficiaries was long gone and his “everything else” is everything and now left to chance. The Will also provided for a Personal Representative who lived 2000 miles away and who likely will not want to be in charge of the circus that is about to commence with a bunch of heirs who don’t have a relationship and no clear instructions.
This case hasn’t ended yet but it’s going to be a long haul and could have been very easily avoided if he had just updated his Will prior to passing.
And so, even with a seemingly simple estate—say, you “just” own a bank account and a house—it’s crucial to keep an updated will or a living trust or otherwise Probate Proof yourself. These scenarios can be avoided with the advice of an Estate Planning Attorney –so have your Estate Planning reviewed every three years or when life changes happen [beneficiaries pass away, children are born, divorce occurs, assets are sold, to name a few] and failing to do so can have unintended consequences.