ESTATE PLAN FAUX PAS

I retired earlier this year and my wife will be doing so within the next month. When you go through career changes–or just periodically–it is important to review your Estate Plan–WHICH WE DID. Make sure that it is up-to-date. Have your beneficiaries changed? Are your Executors, Trustees, Health Care Surrogates–and their successors–still prepared to serve?

Recalling when my Mother was having her Estate Plan updated, the attorney (a family friend) failed to question whether there was a family member to include in the discussion and properly understand her situation–in dealing with an elderly lady. I recall several inconsistencies in the Draft–which I had to ask for–and realized that it was not in accordance with her needs. Luckily, we caught these things before it was finalized.

The most interesting–and unfortunate–Estate Plan Faux Pax, however, at least that I have heard of, occurred in Southern California some years ago. An elderly lady’s Living Trust noted, in the first few pages, that her beneficiary was the University of Southern California (USC). Unfortunately, later in the Trust, UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) was listed as the sole beneficiary.

So, as I found in reviewing my Mother’s Estate Plan, the attorney for the lady in Southern California apparently did not adequately proof-read the Trust. Now, I do not know whether this grave mistake was identified while the lady was still able to change it. If not, this would have been a true abomination. That’s two different schools.

It is imperative that you review your Estate Plan before it is finalized. Check with family members, perhaps your CPA, and if you are going to have a Bank Trust Department handle your Estate, they will certainly want to review it before they agree to administer it.. Such mistakes are also a good reason to review your documents from time-to-time.

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