Dealing with estate planning issues is difficult for many people. Whether they feel intimidated by the perceived complexity of the matter, or they just don’t want to discuss issues of death, many people will put estate planning off as long as possible. Fortunately, if you are reading this, you probably understand how important it is to make estate plans. However, what you might not realize is how important it is to keep those estate plans updated and properly implemented.
The failure to provide instruction or guidance for changed circumstances, whether that includes a divorce, children, grandchildren, or so on, could mean the difference between an orderly and civil process or years of court wrangling. For examples of how important it is to stay on top of these issues, we can look at any of the numerous news items discussing mistakes made by celebrities.
Take Michael Jackson for example. Although he managed to set up a trust for his family, he did not take the necessary steps to fund the trust. Consequently, there will probably be a great deal of confusion as well as a long and drawn out legal process for determining how his assets will be distributed.
Author Michael Crichton’s estate has also run into litigation because his estate planning documents were not updated to account for a new child prior to his death. His wife is reportedly suing the estate in attempts to make sure the newest child is also included in the estate, despite a provision in the original will excluding all children born after it was written.
The examples could go on for quite some time, but the lesson to be learned in all of this is that, in addition to creating an estate plan, keeping it updated and following though with its implementation is just as important. If you have an existing will or estate plan, but need to make changes, you may want to make an appointment to talk to an experienced estate planning attorney.
Source: The Street, Dead Celebs Offer Estate Planning Guidance, Joe Mont 12/6/10