Estate Planning Is Not a Taboo Topic
There are all kinds of topics that people tend not to discuss at family or friendly functions. The common no-nos are religion and politics. Another topic many don’t want to discuss is estate planning.
Perhaps it’s because it feels morbid or too personal. Let this post from our team at White & Associates serve as permission and encouragement: Talk about your plans and intentions for your estate consistently with the people who matter. Talk about the what-ifs, the what-nows, and the how-tos.
Celebrity Situations Serve as Estate Plan Reminders
The daughter of musical idol Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie, passed away in January. While most of us can’t relate to the kind of life she lived and the assets she inherited, the complications her family faced following her death provide legal reminders for everyday people.
Presley’s Problems Teach a Lesson
The Presley family has a trust, reportedly requiring the involvement of certain specified parties for amendments to be valid. Though many look at the Presley family and descendants as financially fortunate, Lisa Marie has endured great loss, and, therefore, needed to reassess the family estate plan on multiple occasions.
Reports indicate that Lisa Marie made the error of not having her mother sign off on certain plan changes, which led to unnecessary legal stress following her death.
In the case of Lisa Marie and her family, she had multiple children from different fathers. In her trust, Lisa Marie did clarify who would be guardians of her youngest daughters. Clarity like that provides a source of confidence and peace for the family who is going through grief following the death of a loved one.
One of Lisa Marie’s children also suffered an untimely death. The trust didn’t reflect that loss, leaving the surviving family with questions. Whether someone’s estate plan involves a will, trust, guardianship or all of the above, a plan needs to change when there are big life changes.
What Life Changes Should Impact Your Will?
Lisa Marie lost a child. That means she, like any other parent who loses a child, would want to reassess how assets would be distributed among the remaining family. If that child was given some authority in the estate plan, obviously the loss of that person would mean additional changes are necessary for the trust.
The following are other major life changes that should trigger possible estate plan adjustments:
- Death in the family
- New child
- Loss or gain of real estate
- Change in estate planning and/or tax laws of your state
- Relocation (since laws may differ regarding your taxes and estate plan)
There are also other life events that could alter what is best for your planning purposes. The more you, your family, your financial advisors, and your legal advisors discuss the future and your intentions, the likelier you are to revisit an estate plan when necessary.
If Your Plan Needs Work, Get it Done
Consistently revising a will or trust is important. Make those changes, and when you do, make sure they are done according to the law so they’re valid when you’re gone.