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Unintended Heirs

Avoid Unintended Heirs

Unless it involves the sale of a life insurance policy, most financial advisors will only refer you to an attorney for your estate planning. It is appropriate and well advised that you have a licensed attorney draft legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney, living wills, designation of health care surrogate, and designation of mental health care surrogate. However, even if you have perfect documents drafted by the top estate planning attorney in town, if you don't do the right things after those documents are drafted, it isn't possible for your estate plan to accomplish what you want it to.

Many times we have asked our new clients, "What if your son died in an automobile accident on the way home from your funeral - what would happen to the assets you left him?" The most common answer we get is, "They would go to his children". When we ask, "What would make that happen?" the reply is, "It says that in our will".

However, it can't say that in their will. Their will can't leave to anyone that which belongs to their son. What their will does say is, "If my son dies before me, I leave those assets to his children". Therefore, we can't know where those assets will go. A likely scenario is that those assets will go to their son's wife. That might work out well, but, if she remarries in a few years, and then dies prematurely, there is a possibility that those assets will go to her new husband, someone our client never even met.

These are things that are controllable. You can structure things to protect from pitfalls, mistakes, and oversights that can be found in wills, investment and insurance policy applications, standard "fill-in-the-blanks" beneficiary designation forms, investment asset allocation models, and other financial documents. You can also make certain that accounts are titled properly and that you have custom beneficiary designation documents that will assure asset transfers per your objectives.

Hope is Not a Plan.

A plan is a well thought out set of steps, taken in specific directions, with definite intentions. Including areas which involve controllable results replaces hope.