Things should be simple. I have a three-year old, and I am fortunate enough to be able see the world through his eyes – simple. His world consists of wheels on a bus going round and round, when you are happy, clap your hands and the cows on the farm say, “Moo” – E I E I O.
We want our estate plan to be simple too. But what does that really mean? I think we mean that we want our plan to be easy to administer when the time comes. We do not want to be an undue burden on our loved ones – the people we have selected to be the administrators/trustees/executors of our estate.
We want our plan to be simple.
If my son was drafting a plan, he might write, “Mommy and Daddy are in charge. Mommy is to get Piggy, and Daddy is to get my trucks.”
This is a great plan, in a simple world. Unfortunately, we do not live in a simple world. There are many variables and many unknowns as we move our way along life’s path.
In my son’s plan, what happens if “Piggy” is replaced? Does Mommy get the replacement? Do Mommy & Daddy have to agree on everything, or can they act independently? What happens if they don’t agree on a course of action?
In my son’s simplicity, he created a lot of complexity!
As an estate planning attorney, my job is not to keep the page count low. My job is to achieve the actual goal of making it as easy as possible for your loved ones to work through your estate when the time comes.
This means that a well drafted estate plan contemplates as many of the potential variables as possible, and builds in the flexibility to handle those instances that were not contemplated. It is a complicated process on our end to make it as “simple” as possible on your end! That is an important part of the value in an estate plan.
I hope my son’s simplistic world view lasts as long as possible. But this means he should not be drafting an estate plan any time soon – That’s daddy’s job!
Contributed by MH Estate Planning Attorney James P. Plitz
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