How To Legally Strengthen Your Estate Plan
Estate planning is fundamentally a legal process, and most folks will want to know their estates will be as legally strong as possible. Besides putting together a will, though, what can you do to ensure your estate plan will be strong? An estate planning attorney can help clients in these five areas.
The one thing you don't want to ever do is create estate documents that are ambiguous. One of the main arguments for paying an estate planning attorney is to have someone qualified who can read the clauses in the documents and assess whether they might be unclear or even contradictory.
A lawyer will also likely want to cleanly cancel any previous estate planning documents to minimize potential conflicts between two or more wills. This means creating one document that identifies all of the others and clearly states those are no longer in effect. Your new will can then state what your intentions are at this time.
It is also important to name everything as thoroughly as possible. This starts with identifying your estate's beneficiaries. You want to have the spellings nailed down perfectly. If someone marries, divorces, or has some other reason for a legal name change, make sure their new identity is in the documents. You should repeat the process with the administrators of your estate.
Naming an executor is important. However, you also should name at least one successor. This is a person who'll take over the executor role if the original individual is unavailable, conflicted, deceased, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to fulfill their duties.
Eliminate Conflicts of Interest
People often make the mistake of creating potential conflicts of interest in their estates. For example, there is minimal risk if you name the estate planning attorney as the executor. Even that minimal risk is unacceptable, and you ought to eliminate it.
It is also prudent to not put anyone in an executive role who has a stake in any of the administrative decisions. You don't want the executor to profit from leaving more money undistributed, for example. If you want to leave something to the executor, make sure it is a simple and clear cash amount or something like a highly specific asset.
Secure the Documents
Finally, you need to physically secure the documents as well as possible after notarization. Your estate planning attorney should have a copy in their possession. Likewise, you should keep a copy of the documents in a safe place in your home.
To find out more, consult with an estate planning attorney.