Keeping estate plans up to date
Are you following through on your estate plans? Here’s what I mean. If you have a life insurance policy, do you still want it to go to the beneficiary you chose a decade ago? Two decades ago? (Whitney Houston’s Will for instance was signed in 1993.) Callers to the AgingOptions Radio show have sometimes asked Rajiv Nagaich about wills that name beneficiaries that are no longer living or that have developed problems that make them inappropriate for receiving large sums of money or responsibilities.
As you can imagine: the larger the estate, the larger the problem. Take for instance the Michael Jackson estate. Three years after Jackson’s death his estate is still hung up in probate, his creditors have yet to have their claims finalized and the details of his estate are open to anyone looking for them. Meanwhile his family is still fussing and fighting over the details of his will.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras make a living writing about the mistakes wealthy and/or famous people make when creating their estate plans. Fortunately for them and unfortunately for the folks they write about they’re not struggling to find fodder because the rich and the famous fall into the same trap the rest of us fall into; believing that they have time and that tomorrow always comes.
If you die without any estate planning, it’s called dying intestate. To find out how your state will determine distribution of your assets you can go to this calculator. You can improve upon the estate planning strategies of Houston, Jackson and others by updating your estate plan every five years or whenever there is a change in the laws, your finances or personal circumstances (you get married, divorced, have a child, are diagnosed with a life altering disease etc.). Don’t stop at wills. You need to update any trusts, life insurance, savings bonds, real estate, bank accounts or other assets because dying with old documents in place may be worse than dying without anything in place. Then find a good elder law attorney and begin planning for how you want to live and die.