I heard a story once about a railroad that was transporting passengers from one side of the country to the other. The passengers went on one railcar; their luggage was on another. After making it half-way to their destination, the two railcars became separated when a switchman moved the track only a few inches. Upon the passengers arriving correctly at their destination and finding they were without luggage, it was determined that the slight shift in the track caused the luggage to arrive some thousand miles off course.
So how does this relate to estate planning in Arizona and New Mexico? There have been several times, unfortunately, when I met with a client in our Mesa, Phoenix or Scottsdale offices, and it was discovered that a minor change within their estate plan resulted in me having to inform them that the end result they sought is now “a thousand miles away”. Here are a few examples:
- A Scottsdale client went against the instructions we gave her with respect to structuring her beneficiary designations a particular way and instead followed the advice of her financial advisor. The end result is a few hundred thousand dollars going to a beneficiary who does not have the financial capacity to manage her financial affairs. It is expected that those funds will be depleted very rapidly – which is exactly what the client did not want to have happen.
- A Phoenix client needed to open a bank account in the name of her trust so that checks being paid from a trust asset could be deposited into the account. The client did not want to take the few minutes to do this, and ultimately removed the asset from the trust so that the checks could be deposited into her personal bank account. This resulted in the unfortunate news that the asset will have to go through probate, thus using precious time and money from the estate to go to court – which is the very thing the client wished to avoid in setting up their trust documents.
- A Mesa client wanted to make it easier for his son to have access to his bank accounts upon the client’s demise. While there certainly are ways to accomplish what the client wanted to do, the son’s name was added to every bank account and the trust name was removed. The son was later sued and his creditors came after not only the son’s own money, but the money in the accounts that were technically owned by the client, and supposed to be owned by the trust. This was definitely what the client did not want to have happen.
We take pride in helping our clients create an estate plan that is specifically tailored to their unique situation. We also take pride in the relationship that we have with our clients that allows them to call, email, or visit us whenever they have a question about their estate plan. We want to help our clients maintain what they are seeking to do with their estate without their luggage arriving at a destination a thousand miles away. That is our job and we take pride in doing it.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, powers of attorney, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.