Estate Planning is one of these tasks that often fall under “discretionary spending,” and because it has the stigma of having to contemplate your own death, it often drops to the bottom of the to-do list. Many families learn the hard way that failure to plan timely, or failure to keep the plan current and relevant to the changing family dynamic, results in expensive, contentious and lengthy estate administration.
The thing about estate planning is, once the person is gone, there is no do-over. The “could have” or “should have” afterthoughts are alas helpless in the face of the facts – it will cost so much more to administer the estate than if there was some planning involved.
But just having a will or a trust is half the work. If a trust contains confusing and conflicting terms, and if its provisions don't fit with the plans and expectations of its beneficiaries, the only way to “correct” this after death is – again – to go to court, and petition a Judge to instruct the Trustee on what they are supposed to do under the (ambiguous) terms of a trust.
There is no substitute to being proactive and responsible in setting up your estate plan (trust, Will, powers of attorney, business assignments), and in keeping it current and befitting the changing needs and circumstances that life inevitably brings about as time goes by.
If your trust has not been reviewed in more than five years, dust it off and take it to a trust attorney to go over its terms, and confirm that they are still relevant, and in line with your wealth management path as well as the expectations of your family.
Better yet – talk to your team of experts – your financial advisor, your insurance broker, your CPA, and your trust attorney – to ensure your family does not have to pay the ultimate price – Regret.
Contact The Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, Trusts & Estates in Marina del Rey, on 475 Washington Boulevard. Contact us to learn more.
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