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Why Do Estate Plans Fail?

June 6, 2018

Imagine you are making plans for an upcoming vacation. You think about it all the time; you mentally decide what you will do and what places you’ll visit; you even set aside all the money you plan to use. You could feel very prepared.

But now imagine that you never booked your plane ticket, or that you planned to stay with family but don’t know where they live. Imagine you forget all your money at home. These kinds of failures can cancel out any plans you may have had. It is a similar situation when it comes to your estate plan: when you make certain missteps, your plans can fail.

  1. You don’t have a plan in the first place. Intending to have a plan or talking about what you would want is not the same as putting pen to paper and making a valid, enforceable will and estate plan. If you do not have a plan in place, you leave crucial decisions in the hands of the courts.

  2. You haven’t discussed your plans with loved ones. As discussed in this recent Forbes article, many reasons why an estate plan fails stem from familial discord or confusion. That said, you can protect your estate plan by talking about it with your loved ones. Give them a chance to ask questions and get clarification. Make sure the necessary parties understand your wishes as well as the roles they might play.

  3. You didn’t follow through with certain elements. You might set up a trust, for instance, but if you don’t follow through with funding it, then your plans for that property can fail.

These missteps can cause any estate plan — written or verbalized — to fail, so it is wise to avoid them.

Another costly mistake could be failing to consult an attorney who can help ensure your estate plan is thorough, valid and accessible. An experienced lawyer can also help you spot any other gaps or red flags that could jeopardize the efficacy of your plan, so it can be a wise decision to seek legal guidance when it comes to making a solid estate plan.