Halloween is almost upon us and on theme with the scary ghosts and ghouls surrounding the holiday, today we are going to talk tips and tricks to avoid spooky estate planning situations that can cause family conflict and draw out the administration of your estate if not avoided.
One situation that can consistently cause a spooky amount of conflict is when a client has a lot of sentimental tangible personal property that is left up to the beneficiaries to distribute among themselves without specification. Tangible personal property consists of your personal items – for example, vehicles, clothing, furniture, art work, collectibles, and jewelry. Often, these material objects turn into the greatest source of conflict between beneficiaries and can lead to lengthy battles over the property because of its sentimental value. You can avoid this scary situation by creating an itemized list that details your important tangible personal property and designates the beneficiaries of the property.
Mummies are not the only thing that can be considered old and dusty this Halloween! If your estate plan has not been updated in a while, there may be aspects that are out-of-date or that no longer accurately state your wishes. A good rule of thumb is to update your plan whenever the relationship, health, or financial circumstances of you, your fiduciaries, and/or your beneficiaries change. If nothing has changed, we still recommend updating your plan every five (5) years to incorporate new laws and administrative provisions as needed.
Unknown property can float around like a ghost after your death if no one is aware it exists. To avoid your property disappearing at your death because no one knows about it, carefully consider if you need to have multiple savings accounts or if you can consolidate them. Periodically check the unclaimed property divisions of states in which you have resided for stock dividends or forgotten bank account balances and file a claim to obtain the property. Create a list of all your assets, update it regularly and let a trusted family member or friend (and your estate planning attorney!) know where to find the information in case something happens to you.
We hope our tips and tricks help you to avoid spooky estate plan situations this holiday season! If you would like to speak to our office about creating or updating your estate plan, please call our office at (781)461-1020. Please also like and subscribe below to see other content from our firm!