Are you 100% certain that your estate plan will actually work when your family needs it most? If you didn’t immediately say “yes,” then your family is likely at risk of being left devastated after you’re no longer around and we’re going to talk about why that is and what you can do to solve this right now.
If you’re like most people, you likely think estate planning is just one more task to check off of your life’s endless “to-do” list. You may shop around and find a general practitioner jack-of-all-trades lawyer to create estate planning documents for you, or you may even might try creating your own Do-It-Yourself estate planning documents using something you found online. Then, you’ll put those documents into a drawer, mentally check estate planning off your to-do list, and forget about them for years and potentially decades to come.
The problem is that estate planning is not a one-and-done type of deal. In fact, your plan will be worthless and will fail your family if it’s not regularly updated when you buy and sell assets, or when your family situation changes, and especially when the law changes. And this is just one of the many reasons why most estate plans fail when your loved ones need it most.
In fact, this is what happened when my father’s estate plan failed our family, which left my mom and I almost in complete financial ruin after he died.
You see, my father wanted to make sure my mom and I would be well taken care of and that we would stay out of probate court and out of conflict – if anything were to happen to him – so he sought out a very well known estate planning lawyer in town to help create his estate plan.
And this lawyer had a great reputation, worked at a top firm, and had decades of estate planning experience, so everything was going to work out just fine.
Well, years later my dad died unexpectedly in his late 40s. I was only 7 at the time and my mom – STILL — had to go through 2 years and 9+ months of probate court. (And had to pay her probate attorney $55k by the end of it.)
Years later when I went to law school and my mom was talking about my dad’s estate plan, I was confused because my dad’s estate plan had a Trust. A Trust is supposed to prevent your loved ones from having to go through probate.
That’s when I found out that my dad never transferred his assets into his Trust to make it work correctly and neither did his estate planning lawyer. That’s right, the same estate planning lawyer with decades of experience and a great reputation. Yes, his own estate planning lawyer did not make sure his assets were transferred properly into his Trust. And after the plan was done, that lawyer never kept in contact with my dad throughout his life to review his estate plan to make the necessary updates and changes required to ensure the plan would actually work for my mom and I.
I thought for sure this had to be malpractice. But, after being in this industry and hearing from other estate planning lawyers and how they do things, I found out that this was not malpractice at all. This was common practice!
These traditional estate planning law firms were putting in place one-size-fits-all form documents. CTRL + F, where John becomes Bob and Karen becomes Susan.
And after they completed a client’s estate plan, they would never follow up with a client throughout their life to ensure that the documents were being updated to keep pace with the changes that occurred in the client’s life.
They were not creating an inventory of the client’s assets to make sure that all assets could be found by the family after the death or incapacity of a loved one. LITERALLY, there’s over $3 billion dollars just sitting in the state’s Department of Unclaimed Funds and Property. When a person dies and their loved ones can’t find all of the accounts, that’s how family assets can get lost forever after one passes away.
And, like in my father’s case, these traditional estate planning law firms did not put in place any systems or processes to ensure that assets were being titled properly to make sure the plan would actually work to keep the family out of court and conflict.
Ultimately, when I became an estate planning attorney, I made a commitment to never let my clients suffer what my own family suffered and to create something truly meaningful for my clients in the form of estate plans that would actually work when their families needed it to and provide the best client experience while doing so.
That’s why at Elliott Feldman Law Group, we don’t just put in place one-size-fits-all documents, we help you create a personalized and tailored estate plan that will actually work to keep your family out of court and conflict should anything happen to you. After we help you create your plan, we’re going to set a date where we’re going to meet up on Zoom and review your estate plan every 3 years to make sure that your plan is keeping pace with the changes that occur in your life, as well as changes that occur in the laws so that your plan will actually work when your family needs it most for the rest of your life. We’ll even help you review and maintain a current asset inventory to always reflects the assets you currently own so none of your assets would be lost to your state’s Department of Unclaimed Funds and Property. This way, we can help you keep your plan current throughout your life and make sure nothing slips through the cracks so everything goes exactly the way you want it to go for your family when the time comes and you’re no longer around.
Do you currently have an estate plan that you had created years ago at a traditional estate planning law firm that hasn’t been looked at in years? Or maybe you created some estate planning documents online years ago, and you’re not sure if it will actually work when your loved ones need it most and you’d like to get some clarity on whether what you have in place will be enough to protect your family when the time comes. Either way, feel free to schedule an initial 15 min call with me at a time that works for you and your spouse to have a quick chat so we can get you the answers you need to protect your family.
This article is a service of estate planning attorney Elliott Feldman and the Elliott Feldman Law Group. We do not just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Prosperity Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Prosperity Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 planning session at no charge.