Everyone wants an estate plan that works, but most people don’t realize that many estate plans don’t actually work. Estate plans don’t work when they don’t do what the creator of the plan wanted it to do.
Suzy’s Story of an Estate Plan that Doesn’t Work
Suzy names Brady as the guardian for her minor children if she becomes incapacitated during her lifetime and cannot care for them. Brady is a great family friend and loves Suzy’s children. Suzy and Brady share values regarding life, education, money, and family. It’s appears to be a good fit. But, Suzy never asks Brady for permission to name him.
Suzy suffers head injury in a car accident and is a coma; her recovery is expected to take at least 2 years as she needs to relearn how to walk, speak, feed herself, dress herself, and otherwise function. Brady is called upon to serve as guardian, but he is suffering from depression, considering moving out of the area, and is unemployed. He declines to serve. No backup guardians have been named.
The children are placed into foster care until Suzy is able to regain capacity to care for her children. This is not what she planned, her plan didn’t work
The Basics to Best Ensuring that Your Plan Works
- Before you name anyone in a role of trusted helper such as guardian, trustee, executor, or agent, always ask permission first.
- Always name one or two back up trusted helpers for each role.
- Communicate with your loved ones so that they know your wishes and can locate your estate planning documents quickly when needed.
- Update your estate plan every one to three years (or earlier if something major changes in your life.)
- Create your estate plan with the guidance of a qualified estate planning attorney