SmartBusiness recently highlighted the fundamentals of a “well-thought-out estate plan,” with topics that everyone should consider – whether prince or pauper.
One of their interesting points was that if you are working with an estate planning attorney, most likely the important areas are going to be properly addressed, including the impact of pending changes in estate taxes. However, I’ve found that many people overlook making arrangements for their personal effects, including jewelry, art work and collectibles. They simply assume that their loved ones will be able to agree on how to divide it all up. In my experience, these things are what people argue over the most.
Not long ago, there was a case involving two brothers who litigated for three years over the ‘stuff’ left in their mom’s house. They ended up spending over $50,000 on attorney’s fees fighting over items that were appraised for only $5,000. To avoid this happening in your family, draft a Memorandum of Understanding and attach it to your will. The Memorandum can be very simple, but it should also be very specific in detailing your wishes. Hold a family meeting to identify what your children want, and incorporate that into the memo.
As your circumstances change and evolve over the years, your plans need to be kept current. Don’t forget about external factors such as tax law changes and fluctuations in the value of real estate.
Few people sit down, annually, and take stock of their estates. But if you do, millions of dollars can be saved and much heartache can be avoided.
If you have questions, let’s meet and talk. My goal is to provide you with helpful information for creating, implementing, and updating your estate plan to serve your wishes. And our mutual goal will be creating an estate plan that will succeed when it is called upon to take you and your loved ones through life’s inevitable transitions.