Articles Tagged with Estate Law; Estate Planning

When was the last time you reviewed your estate plan? Most people have not reviewed their estate plan since they put it together with the help of their attorney. Although it is relatively common, taking a set-it-and-forget-it approach to estate planning is risky business. As time passes, life circumstances change, as does the law regarding estates. For these reasons, it is essential to review an estate plan every three to five years. Below are a handful of common mistakes that can easily be caught and corrected by reviewing all estate planning documents.

Updating Your Fiduciaries

Knowing who is named as the executor of a will or as the trustee of a trust is crucial to making sure that an estate plan is properly carried out. Each fiduciary plays a critical role in the administration of an estate. Over time, relationships often change. People drift apart and may even fall completely out of touch. People also grow old and pass away. Thus, it is crucial to check in with an estate plan every so often to make sure the named individuals are still up to the task. Even if the fiduciary is still willing and able, you may find on further inspection that there is a better person for the job.

Test tubesAs growing numbers of people use reproductive technology to have children later in life or overcome infertility issues, many affluent Americans are leaving behind “genetic material” that could conceivably add a new heir to the family.

Estate planning is all about tying together the loose ends of your life. Easier said than done, right? It seems with every passing generation our lives get even more complicated. Medicine, especially fertility medicine, continues to baffle the legal system. The perfect example of that is posthumous progeny (how is that even a phrase?) through cryogenics, in vitro fertilization, and entirely understandable timing. It’s been in the news before, but MarketWatch recently took up the topic in an article titled “Your frozen sperm could inherit your estate.

Inheritance, unless you plan otherwise, legally flows from generation to generation or simply the closest kin in lieu of that next generation. It’s an age-old concept and logically follows the nature of human reproduction. On the other hand, that can get pretty complicated when we stop reproducing as they always have (as in only the ways they could) in ages past.

Wills-trusts-and-estates-coveredI think it’s important for people to understand the consequences of inattention to legal matters and of not involving an attorney. “Penny wise and pound foolish” can be a particularly compelling adage when dealing with legal matters.

More often than not, when an estate plan fails and litigation follows it is because the estate plan was not a good plan at all. Legal mistakes and cut-corners are liabilities not worth keeping on the books, as a growing body of case law goes to show. Do not let a legal mistake haunt your estate, your assets or your family after you are gone.

When it comes to estate planning, the liability of legal mistakes and cut-corners has a special kind of edge to it since it is so often the family or your partners who end up feeling the burden or even winding up in litigation. What do these cases look like and what terrible mistakes have been made?

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