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  • Writer's pictureDouglas S. Holden

What Is A Good Estate Plan?

It might be good to discuss “What is NOT a Good Estate Plan?" First, not talking about it is not a plan. So many people are, let’s be honest, procrastinators. Don’t let time pass you by. There comes a point in time when one comes to the realization, “There are no do-overs in life.” Many of us are rapidly steaming toward the finish line of life.

How sad it is to get there without an estate plan. Often this problem can be solved, but sometimes not. I recently met with an elderly couple who had done no estate planning. I took the information, put the documents together, and sent them off to the clients for review. Not having heard back in a week, I was getting ready to call when I received a call from the wife who informed me that her husband had fallen, hit his head, and was now in hospice. He died a few days later. Next, planning that some other earthly person will take care of you is not a plan. When I ask people, “Who will take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself," I get a variety of responses. If I am working with a couple, they often say the well spouse will take care of the ill spouse. I like the thought of that, but often it just doesn’t work. Witness a lady who came in and told me it was always their plan to take care of each other until the 220-pound husband needed to be moved around by the 112-pound wife. Or the husband who just couldn’t cope with having to see his wife in such pain and discomfort. Third, the “I’ve got everything in a box” client. Often I can work with this, but a flat fee is out the door since the time to figure everything out can be astronomical. Not much of a plan. Fourth, “We’re still young.” I was visited by a fairly young woman with three small children She cried out on the phone asking for an appointment. I could barely understand her saying, “My husband was killed in a car wreck. We have no Will, nothing. Please help, I don’t know what to do.” Fifth, “If one of us dies, the survivor can handle it.” I once had a gentleman come in. His son and daughter-in-law had both died in a car accident, leaving two children. Their house had been held in joint tenancy so now we had to probate to clear the title. Wouldn’t have been necessary with a little planning. Sixth, “We have Wills and other documents --- dated 1969.” Life was not so complicated in 1969, but it is now. Laws have changed, and life has changed, making the obsolete document a real nightmare. I could go on and on, but I hope you get the point. If you do not plan, you place an undue burden on your spouse, other relatives, and your friends. If you do not plan, it will most likely cost your family more money, more time, and more emotion. Traditional Estate Planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's assets, including planning for incapacity as well as managing uncertainties of the administration of a probate and the preservation of income and assets. © DOUGLAS S. HOLDEN, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

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