IF THESE SCENARIOS APPLY TO YOU, NOTE THAT A LACK OF ATTENTION CAN BE COSTLY

  • PARENT(S) of MINOR CHILD(REN) – NO WILL.  A judge will likely be the one who decides who will raise your minor children without any input from you. Your loved ones may be left to argue to a judge, or between family members, who would be best for this job.  What if the person with the strongest voice or argument is someone you'd never even let babysit your child for one day?

  • PARENT(S) of MINOR CHILD(REN) – WILL.  Does the Will include a guardian nomination? If not, see above. If it does, that is helpful, however, keep in mind that a minor cannot inherit money and a conservator (appointed by a judge) will be needed to handle this money until he or she is 18. Then, at 18, your child is given an unprotected, unrestricted sum of money to spend (or save?) as he or she wants.  We you saving or spending responsibly at 18?

  • NO BENEFICIARY OR THE WRONG BENEFICIARY. You may or may not remember completing a beneficiary form. Either way - is the person listed still the right person? an ex-spouse? someone that is receiving government benefits? incapacitated? careless with money? A beneficiary listed on a form is the person legally entitled to that asset.

  • NO POWERS OF ATTORNEY. If you are not able to make medical or financial decisions for yourself, legally sign paperwork, convey wishes, because of incapacity or disability, you may face "living probate" - a guardianship and conservatorship issue that is supervised by the courts, to appoint someone to act for you. 

  • OLD DOCUMENTS. If you have a Trust, Will, Guardian/Conservator Appointment, or Powers of Attorney that are more than 3 years old, they should be reviewed. You want to make sure they are legally current and contain your current wishes.

  • AN UNFUNDED TRUST.  You created a Trust, but if that Trust does not hold any of your assets, it is not funded. An unfunded trust is an expensive Will, because your assets may have to go through the probate court process before they can be distributed.  Probate lacks privacy, can be time consuming and expensive.

  • NO BACKUP PERSON IS NAMED. If your Personal Representative, Trustee, Guardian, Conservator, or Agent cannot serve for whatever reason and no alternate person is listed, the court might need to get involved to appoint someone and without your input, this might not be the person you would ever want in that role.

  • NOTHING IN PLACE.  You are certain your family knows what to do, what you want done, who gets what, your feelings on end-of-life situations, etc.  This may be true, however, simply expressing your wishes verbally to family, friends, and loved ones, might not allow these people to legally carry out these wishes. If you do not have these thoughts and wishes in written, legally enforceable documents, then you should understand that your loved ones will be left to figure these things out for you without any input from you during an emotional and stressful time.