With April Fool’s Day fast approaching, keep an eye out for increased attempts to trick you into giving up information or assets; these tricksters exist even in the world of estate planning! The rise of scams, “do it yourself” templates, and the sharing of well-meaning but uneducated advice can fool individuals into paying fraudulent companies unnecessarily or creating estate plans that are ineffective and do not accomplish their goals. Read on for some tips to avoid getting tricked in the world of estate planning this April Fool’s Day!
Neighbors are often eager to share their opinion on estate plans and what they think you should do without knowing your situation and your needs. Some will even claim they were able to create their plan themselves and that you do not actually need an estate planning attorney to help you. Watch out for this seemingly well-meaning advice and don’t get fooled into thinking what someone else did for themselves will work for you!
There is no effective “cookie cutter” estate plan. Your estate plan should be tailored to your circumstances and assets, account for the various unique factors in your life, as well as take into account your goals in order to work most effectively. Keep in mind that many “do it yourself” estate plan templates fail to account for changing circumstances or events and often become problematic or ineffective as a result. Working with an estate planning attorney is key to ensure your documents account for various circumstances that may arise and therefore remain effective as circumstances change. In addition, working with an attorney gives you the opportunity to ask questions and tailor your plan specifically to your goals.
Deeds and mortgages are public information and are published and accessible to all on the Registry of Deeds website for each Massachusetts county. Unfortunately, as a result, there are companies who will try to use this information to exploit unsuspecting individuals. These companies will copy your name and address from the public records and then send you a document claiming you need to pay them a significant amount of money in order to get a copy of your deed. This document often looks official and uses intimidating language to convince you to pay them right then and there. Don’t let these scammers fool you! Your deed is public record, and you can obtain a copy online through the Registry of Deeds for your county for no to nominal cost. Don’t be fooled into paying these companies for your deed when you can access it yourself online!
Estate Plan Timing:
You may hear the Irrevocable Trust and Medicaid informercials on the radio and assume that estate planning is a necessity reserved for the sick or elderly. Don’t get fooled into thinking that because you are young and healthy right now that you do not need an estate plan! There are plenty of circumstances we cannot predict that can impact us at any age, including getting sick, suffering an accident, or passing away unexpectedly. Having an estate plan in place is key for knowing what will happen should these unexpected circumstances occur and ensuring that your wishes will be followed.
Estate Plan is One-and-Done:
Once you have finished executing your estate plan, it can be tempting to set it up on the shelf and forget about it. Don’t get fooled into thinking your estate plan doesn’t change! An effective estate plan should address circumstances that can arise, but sometimes things happen that are unanticipated, laws change, and plans need to be updated as a result to reflect changes in your life, circumstances, and goals.
April Fool’s Day can be a time of laughter, fun, and pranks! However, the tricksters and scammers often also start coming out of the woodwork around this time of year and attempt to capitalize on the complicated world that is estate planning. The best way to avoid getting tricked and making sure your estate plan is effective is to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Attorney Megan L. Bartholomew is an associate attorney with the Dedham law firm of Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC which focuses on advising its clients in the areas of estate planning, estate settlement and elder law matters. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or create or imply an attorney-client relationship. No information contained herein is a substitute for a personal consultation with an attorney. For more information visit our website at www.ssbllc.com or call 781/461-1020.
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