Avoid Estate Planning Minefields
The problem with some complex responsibilities is that they may seem simple on the surface, yet they may be very difficult in reality. For example, crossing a field of 50 yards seems simple, right? However, if that field is a minefield, it might be a very hazardous crossing, indeed. On the surface, both fields might appear the same to the ordinary person. However, experts can spot the hidden problems that the ordinary person may not.
This is equally true for estate planning. Lets look at two couples, the Browns and the Robinsons. The Browns have a very substantial and complicated estate that may benefit from tax planning. They own a sizable business. They each have a prior marriage and their marriage together is somewhat rocky. Its easy to see the mines in that field and know that they would benefit from consulting with an estate planning attorney.
The Robinsons have more modest assets of approximately $200,000. They have a great marriage and two wonderful kids aged 12 and 15. It appears on the surface that they might be able to save some money and use a “do-it-yourself” estate planning method like online forms or software at little or no cost. The problem is that the Robinsons have a hidden mine in their estate plan.
The Robinsons case looks simple to the untrained eye. However, the Robinsons primary asset is Jake Robinsons 401k which he started right out of college, before he even met his wife, Sally. Jake named his ex-wife, Allison, as beneficiary. Of course, Jake assumes that his 401k will go to his current wife, Sally, because he will name her as the primary beneficiary in his Will or Trust. Jake doesnt know what he doesnt know, i.e. that his Will or Trust will not control his 401k.
While the Robinsons could “save” some money by using some free or inexpensive, “do-it-yourself” software, doing so will end up costing them everything because Jakes 401k will go to Allison at his death, even if Jake names Sally in his Will or Trust.
Only an experienced estate planning attorney who focuses his or her practice in that field will have the knowledge and expertise to spot and defuse the mines which you may encounter.
Your estate planning attorney can guide you through the minefield to the other side. Dont make the same mistake that Jake did. See an experienced estate planning attorney.