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Reality about Estate Planning

Nobody likes to think about death–we all know it is inevitable, but it certainly isn’t a dinner-friendly conversation to have with your friends and family. Estate planning involves having those uncomfortable conversations with your attorney. Consequently, many people want to avoid these difficult conversations and for this reason, they may not reach out to their attorney once their estate planning documents are drafted, signed, and finalized; they leave their attorney’s office with their paperwork in hand, throw it in the filing cabinet at home, and never look at it again. 

Truth about Why You Need Estate Planning

Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 this results in those documents being antiquated by the time it comes time to use them. There are constant changes in our lives that directly affect our estate plan–people move and buy new houses, make new financial investments, and have children and grandchildren that they want to leave inheritances for–all of which are substantial changes that must be reflected in your estate planning documents in order to be enforceable. 

Let’s say that you own House A when you draft your estate plan, and in your plan you leave House A to your daughter. Years later you have another daughter and need to up-size, so you sell House A and buy House B, and you want to leave House B to both of your daughters after you die–but, you never told your lawyer about these changes, your attorney never asked you about any changes in your family or asset structure, and as a result your documents were never updated. If you were in an accident tomorrow and your family had to start the process of administering your estate, those un-updated documents you had drafted years ago are no longer usable. House A is still listed as your home, and there is no indication that you bought House B at some point–your family cannot inherit a house that you no longer own. Now there’s a big mess for your family to deal with in court, on top of the stress, grieving, and heartache they are dealing with because of your death.

3 Steps for Your Estate Planning

Nobody wants to deal with a situation like this. Here are a few things you can do as a client to avoid something like this from happening to you and your family:

  1. Ask your attorney to sit down with you and review your estate planning documents every 3-5 years. There may not be any major changes in your life every 3-5 years, but it is important to review your estate plan anyways just to be sure it is updated. Not only will this ensure that your documents are up-to-date, but it gives you peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen tomorrow, your wishes will be honored and your family will not have to deal with complicated court proceedings to administer your estate.
  2. Tell your attorney about any major changes in your family or asset structure. Buying a new house, having more children or grandchildren, making a new investment, or starting a new business–whatever it may be, always be sure to notify your attorney of these changes in your family structure or your asset structure. Make it a point to tell your attorney about these changes to ensure that they update your documents to reflect them. 
  3. Hire an attorney who cares. Of course, it is the attorney’s responsibility to draft an estate plan that works for you. Unfortunately, many traditional attorneys will send you off with your 100+ page estate planning folder, throw a copy in their filing cabinet, and never look at it again. They will never ask you about changes in your life that may affect your estate plan, and as a result your documents do not stay updated. This is why it is of utmost importance to find an estate planning attorney that knows you, cares about you and your family’s needs, and makes an effort to provide legal services that reflect those personal relationships.

Invitation from Springdale Law Group

At Springdale Law Group, we dedicate ourselves to creating personal, long-term relationships with our clients to ensure that we are able to honor their wishes with an estate plan that works. Not only do we put effort into our relationships with our clients, but if we draft an estate plan for you, we offer a free, 3-year review of your estate planning documents so that they stay up-to-date and legally enforceable by the time they need to be used. We work diligently to ensure that any changes in your family or asset structure are reflected in your documents so that your loved ones don’t have to deal with expenses and complex court proceedings after your passing.