STRESS —aka—“it’s time to revise our wills and trusts”
Beatrice E. Wolper
Emens & Wolper Law Firm
The general rule of thumb is that one should review his or her will and trust every five years —or whenever major life events occur. NO ONE ever wants to do this. Ever.
It is difficult enough to contemplate your own death…but then, to add the possibility that your loved ones could pass before you do…is almost too much to bear. But well written wills and trusts need to contemplate all scenarios…even the ones you don’t want to think about. It is vital to think about the “what if’s”…. “what if I die first? What if you die first? What if something happens to a child? What if…”
Well written wills and trusts will also contemplate how to take care of a loved one who is unable to take care of himself. Without planning, your child may receive “money in his pocket” after your death, and if he has a spending problem, or a drug problem, or some other illness, it may well be that without planning, he will spend all of the money you intended would be there in his old age. In this sense, the “he” is meant to be gender neutral.
In addition, if you are receiving large amounts of income –from—for example, royalties from oil and gas—do you really want to create “trust babies” who are able to live off their un-earned income and therefore de-centivize their work ethic. A trust can provide for matching funds to a child or grandchild for earned income.
We often say, fair is often not equal, and equal is often not fair. Adjustments likely need to be make in your wills and trusts to acknowledge that ownership of business interests is not the same as cash. More headaches come with running a business. It is a good business practice to make some provisions in your trust which may help the business continue.
Keep in mind, your will and trust should make it easier for the executor and trustee…not harder. Anything you can do in advance helps. Fill in a Personal Security Checklist —one can be found on our website: www.emenswolperlaw.com. Don’t’ forget to update the list of passwords…especially in this day of breaches! Everyone should prepare a memorandum of personal property he or she desires to give to specific people. And remember, your will and trust need to be updated to give your executor and trustee the right to access your accounts with your passwords. Without updating your documents, the host site may deny access!!!!
Deal with the stress, and call to update your estate documents. It may be a little stress for you now, but if you do not update your documents, it could be a huge stress for your loved ones if there is confusion about your wishes after you have passed on.