National Estate Planning Awareness Week 2017

October 2017

Next week is National Estate Planning Awareness Week, and in anticipation of one of our favorite weeks of the year, our Trusts & Estates attorneys took time to anticipate some questions that may be occurring to you right now…

“I thought I finished my estate plan. Do I have to revisit it?”

Estate planning is a process, not a one-time event. Change in family circumstances (marital, health, economic, etc.) and changes in the law often require revisions to your planning documents. Planning documents that are more than five or 10 years old often need revising. Most often, revising the estate plan simply involves subtle changes to these documents. It is also important to confirm that the planning in place has been completed. On occasion, final drafts of documents remain unsigned or the signed documents lack coordination with the assets of the estate.  Making sure that assets are appropriately titled and that beneficiary designations have been reviewed is important in estate planning.

“Am I too young for estate planning?”

All adults should plan for incapacity and death regardless of the value of their estate. Failure to do so can result in a messy situation for surviving family members. Accidents and illness can happen at any age. It is important that each person has a nominated legal representative to handle financial and medical care decisions in the event of incapacity. In addition, failure to have a valid will or trust designating the representative for an estate will simply result in more cost to determine the rightful party, as well as potentially cause confusion about who should receive estate assets.

“Don’t I just need a simple will?”

Most people approach estate planning with the view that their planning needs are simple. In reality, most people have planning needs that are more complex. For instance, many people name children or grandchildren as beneficiaries of their estate. In doing so, it’s important to consider when the estate should be distributed to the beneficiary (outright, in installments or at a specified age), how much should be distributed, and the succession of the beneficiary’s interest, if the beneficiary predeceases. Other considerations that require more detailed planning involve planning for guardianship of minor children, estate taxation, children with special needs, unique asset succession (cabin or business), blended families, etc.

If you would like to discuss any of the above questions or have additional questions, FMJ’s Trust & Estates group is happy to discuss with you. Clients can email us at estateplanning@fmjlaw.com to have someone from our Trusts & Estates group contact them. We offer complimentary 30-minute initial consultations and flat-fee estate planning to fit every budget.

FMJ’s Trusts & Estates Group consists of David Ness (Shareholder), Karen Schlotthauer (Senior Counsel), and Matthew Jensen (Associate).