Many estate plans don’t achieve the owners’ goals, Bob Carlson cautions in Forbes, referring to both asset losses and a reduction in family harmony. The two main failure causes Carlson cites are lack of follow through and lack of communication.
Examples of lack of follow-through – a) failing to transfer assets to a living trust; b) failure to update beneficiary designations; and c) failing to update documents when there has been a major life or family change.
Examples of lack of communication – a) appointing agents to act on your behalf when needed, but not telling those people about the documents and giving them access to those documents; b) failing to find out the needs and preferences of the heirs and their intentions; c) failing to communicate your values to the next generation.
“There are no templates when it comes to trust and estate planning,” bmoharris.com so aptly observes. “Every family is different. Every situation is unique.” At Geyer Law, we agree. What Carlson is explaining, though, is that, even within families, situations inevitably change and evolve. As younger generations grow older, and as circumstances force the acceptance of new realities (both positive and negative), estate planning choices must be re-examined.
Laws affecting estate planning also change and evolve. As just one important example, effective just one year ago (July 1, 2021), Indiana overhauled its statutes related to advance directives. The new Health Care Advance Directive document allows individuals to very specifically describe the kinds of end-of-life health care they would prefer.
In each aspect of our practice we are constantly reminded of the need to follow through and communicate. That is true not only in estate planning, but in business planning, special needs planning, and premarital planning. At Geyer Law, over the past 23 years, follow-through, communication, and adapting to change have all become part of our DNA.
– by Cara Chittenden, Associate Attorney at Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates