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Entries in Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) (2)

Thursday
Jul212016

Do You Update Your Resume More Often Than Your Estate Plan?

A resume is really just a snapshot of your experience, skill set, and education. It provides prospective employers insight into who you are and how you will perform. Imagine not updating that resume for 5, 10, or even 15 years.

Would it accurately reflect who you are? Would it do what you want it to do? Likely not.

Estate plans are similar in that they need to be updated on a regular basis to reflect changes in your life so they can do what you want them to do.

Outdated estate plans—like outdated resumes—simply don’t work.

Take a Moment to Reflect:

Think back for a moment. Consider all of the changes in your life. What’s changed since you signed your will, trust, and other estate planning documents? If something has changed that affects you, your trusted helpers, or your beneficiaries, your estate plan probably needs to reflect that change.

Here are examples of changes that are significant enough to warrant an estate plan review and, likely, updates:

1. Birth

2. Adoption

3. Marriage

4. Divorce or separation

5. Death

6. Addictions

7. Incapacity/disability

8. Health challenges

9. Financial status changes—whether good or bad

10. Tax law changes

11. Move to a new state

12. Family circumstances changes—whether good or bad

13. Business circumstances changes—whether good or bad

Procrastination:

If you’re like most people, if updating your estate plan is on the calendar, you’ll make it happen. Just as you update your resume on a regular basis and just like you meet with the doctor, dentist, CPA, or financial advisor on a regular basis, you need to meet with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis as well.

Our office can help to ensure that your estate plan reflects your current needs and those of the people you love. Updating is the best way to make sure your estate plan will actually do what you want it to do.

If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.


 

Thursday
Feb252016

Are Handwritten Intentions Enforceable? Princess Diana Thought So…

Princess Diana of Wales was one of the world’s most loved celebrities – and one of the richest.  Her tragic death in 1997 was world news. The majority of her estate, reportedly worth $40 million at the time of her death, was divided between Prince William and Prince Harry in her estate plan. 

However, she also wrote a “letter of wishes” that directed her executors to give a number of personal effects to her godchildren. Those executors, her mother and her sister, went to court and had it ruled unenforceable. 

Holographic Wills – Sometimes Enforceable, Sometimes Not:

Princess Diana’s letter of wishes is similar to what’s known as a “holographic” will in the United States. In its most simple terms, it is a handwritten document which may or may not have to be signed. 

State laws vary on whether holographic wills can be enforced and how they must be prepared.  Approximately half of U.S. states allow them and those require the matter to be probated. Some of the issues which frequently arise concerning holographic wills include:

  1.    Validity. Did the decedent write the will? In contested cases, handwriting experts are often used to determine validity.
  2. Undue Influence. Was the decedent unduly influenced to create the will? That’s difficult to prove – or disprove – as they do not have to be witnessed.
  3.   Intentions. Does the will accurately describe the decedent’s intentions? Again, without witnesses (creating an actual last will and testament generally requires two), that becomes difficult to answer.

The question becomes – if you believe that no one will contest your holographic will (and it is legal in your state), should you skip the lawyers altogether? The answer is NO.

Don’t Subject Your Wishes to Scrutiny:

The whole purpose of creating a document, any document, which spells out your intentions upon death is to make it enforceable. Although last will and testaments still go through probate, they provide the court with a signed and witnessed document which is likely to reflect your intentions. Holographic wills are less likely to hold up in court and will be subject to a great deal more scrutiny.

The bottom line is that creating a will, a trust, or any other type of estate planning document is easy – when handled by an estate planning attorney. In effect, the process is simple and consists of having a conversation about your intentions, listing assets, and creating a legal document which will carry those intentions out. Sadly, Princess Diana’s godchildren got nothing. Don’t let someone else decide what you did, or did not, intend. 

Contact our office now and we’ll show you which types of estate planning documents are best for you and your goals.

If you want to ensure that your family is cared for, please click here to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Strategy Call with San Francisco’s premier estate planning attorney, Matthew J. Tuller.