Do you already have your estate plan created? Well good for you! You've taken an important step to ensure a calm mindset for the rest of your family when something should happen or the inevitability of your death. If you haven't, then I can tell you that it's never too late to make preparations. But either way, once you have those estate plans, where do you keep them?
Regardless if you had them created with me or someone else, any estate plan should have at least two things: a durable power of attorney that allows someone you've appointed to make legal decisions, and a will, which legally divides your assets to your choice. An estate plan size depends on case-by-case basis, but a trust is essential to avoid going through probate and to have a "management style" for how your estate (which includes the durable power of attorney and will). Especially during the time of the Covid-19 or Coronavirus, medical directives will give someone you trust the ability to make any medical decisions in case you cannot, so I recommend this as well. Once you have all the important documents gathered, it's time to put it someplace that’s safe, but also easy for your family to find.
Store the Documents
For your physical estate plan, it needs to be in a secure location that can be accessible for your family or representative. This is when we'd recommend a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box if your okay with someone other then you being able to access it. Whoever is assigned to be your executor should have access via key, code, or even a copy of it. A lot of law firms (including our own!) will not only keep the original documents and estate plans, but can also have a digital version of it (we can even make a digital copy for you!)
Spread the Word
With great power come great responsibilities. This isn't just a quote from Spider-Man, but also a key essential to your executor. They will need to know where your estate plan is, so be sure to let them know where your safe is in your home (or wherever your keep it. If its in a safety deposit box, it may be time to make that a joint account so that they can get into it.
If you have a healthcare proxy, then your physician can usually keep a copy of it to expedite your wishes faster. If you have family members in your estate plan, chances are you've already informed them about it. You may want to consider sending them copies of your estate plan so they too can expedite how the assets are distributed.
If you've created a new estate plan, be sure to destroy the old ones that are now void. This will prevent someone else to try and challenge it. The last thing you'd want is to go through a complicated litigation.
If you want to update those documents, DON'T WRITE ON THE ORIGINALS. This is when you get into contact with your attorney and they'll be able to update whatever you want. Anything that’s handwritten on the documents is always going to be seen by the courts as not valid.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Nickerson can make sure you don't make those mistakes. Nothing has to be your fault! We can make sure your guided though the right steps for an estate plan that'll keep your wishes and have something for your family to turn to should something happen. Click on the button bellow to contact us for more information or a consultation meeting if your ready.
One of the biggest things that everyone is talking about is the new Netflix documentary series, The Tiger King. I obviously won't go into all the details of it, as it's simply better to see it for yourself. But the short version is that the focus is on two individuals; Joe Exotic, a big cat breeder and owner of a small zoo, and Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary. There is a lot of legal ground to cover from the events such as ethical treatment of the animals, business practices and what constitutes a zoo. But I want to focus on one of the most remembered parts; the will that had come out after Carole Baskin's former husband, who was a multimillionaire, that entitled her to most of the estate.
Episode seven of the series went into more detail about the disappearance of Carole's second husband, Don Lewis. Many rumors have circulated about him being killed by Carole and having been fed to the tigers. I'm not here to talk about that odd situation, but what is stranger is the will. It's common for a will to name people that are designated heirs to an estate. They also include a power of attorney, which allows them to make legal decisions related to accounts that were included in wills. When the husband was declared legally missing, a Durable Family Power of Attorney was discovered by Carole that states, "Shall not be affected by any disability or Disappearance" and had named her to receive the majority of the assets. On top of that, the will had just been created not too long before Don was missing.
I can tell you that adding "disappearance" to a will is not common. A common estate plan will usually have something up in the case of death or medical incident, but a disappearance is covered within the terminology. It was also shown that even though the will was legally sound, the family of Don also had a will. This is usually the result on one not being aware of an earlier will, or worse, from the result of bad influence or fraud. I cannot stress the importance to remember checking to see how updated your will or estate plan is. It's possible they could have it changed without your knowledge.
The final result was the family of Don Lewis only receiving ten percent while Carole received the rest. I'm not sure what transpired between their attorneys, but this should be a lesson to understand that people that surround you or your family that concerns you. The Tiger King is a lesson on how not to have a will made up.
If you want an estate plan that'll set up your loved ones without the concern of an outside force, the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Nickerson can help with that. Click on the link below to know how to receive more information.
Jeffrey C. Nickerson - Estate Planning Attorney - My Passion is Special Needs Planning!