Having a comprehensive estate plan can offer you valuable peace of mind and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your final wishes. Unfortunately, errors within the planning process can disrupt your intentions for your estate. Changing circumstances, problematic documentation, or inadequate planning could throw your estate into chaos following your passing.
To ensure your beneficiaries receive their inheritance without encountering conflicts, discuss your situation with a seasoned estate planning lawyer. One of our skilled attorneys could help you identify some of the major issues with estate planning in Boston and show you how to avoid them.
Many people approach the estate planning process as a one-time exercise. After drafting a will or preparing a trust documentation, they are content to set their plan aside. Unfortunately, this attitude can cause serious issues. Life circumstances can change dramatically and significantly shift your priorities.
Major life changes like marriage or divorce could dramatically alter your goals for your estate plan. These changes can result in outdated beneficiary information that, if not updated, could result in a distribution of assets that does not match your intentions. All of the effort put into your estate plan could be for nothing if beneficiary information is not updated regularly.
“We always stress that estate plans are living documents that do, and must, change as life circumstances change. We recommend reviewing the plan at least once every two years, and it’s typical to have to make changes to a plan in any ten-year period.”
One of the collateral consequences of an estate plan could be unexpected taxation issues, such as conflict with an estate tax or gift tax. Significant tax exposure can often be reduced by minor changes in the structure of the estate plan, the types of gifts given to beneficiaries, or the estate planning tools used throughout the process. A member of our estate planning team could further explain how to minimize tax exposure in these situations.
In some cases, a person can run into issues with their estate if they did not adequately plan for the future earlier in life. Some people put off creating an estate plan until it is too late, and others fail to develop an estate plan that addresses all of their needs. For example, an individual who only planned their final will and testament may run into issues if they do not explore additional planning tools like trusts or gifts.
Unfortunately, our office often receives calls with people who have elderly parents with no will or estate planning in place. It is possible for someone to wait “too long” to do an estate plan: after a point, a person may lack the necessary mental capacity to form a valid will.
Other estate plans could be problematic because they do not address issues outside of asset distribution. For parents with minor children, an estate plan should be used to establish caretakers for the children or identify potential guardians should both parents pass away.
Even the most comprehensive estate plan could accidentally omit an asset, particularly one that is accrued after the plan was created. When a plan does not address these assets, they could be distributed according to state law as opposed to in compliance with the decedent’s wishes. A residuary clause is language in a will that ensures all property not specifically dealt with in the document is given to a specific beneficiary. In this situation, failing to plan is genuinely planning to fail. A failure of distribution could lead to the property escheating, or being distributed to, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Careful estate planning can help avoid such a significant failure.
There are many potential issues that can arise during the estate planning process. Unfortunately, a single error could upend the entirety of an estate plan in some situations. Before you attempt to take on the challenge of fixing your plan on your own, consider speaking with an attorney about the issues with estate planning in Boston. Call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options.