My wife and I are off to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for vacation before the summer days slip away. I’ve left instructions with my capable staff on when and how to contact me if needed, with any luck they will be able to get by just fine without me for a couple of weeks. It would be horribly irresponsible of me to not just show up on Monday morning without telling them or my clients that I will be away.
But what if I don’t come back? What if I choke on a lobster tail or have the big one whilst trolling for trout on Lake Winamasake? Well, all of you that were counting on me to help you with your estate plan are just going to have find help or a referral from my staff. And let’s be clear: you, like me and everyone else, are going to die.
You really have to come to grips with this concept before you make out your estate plan because death is not the last thing you will ever do. Distribution of assets is the true final act, and since you’re not going to be around to do it, you need your own capable staff to carry out your business.
That staff is your estate plan. Your will covers the “what” and “to whom” of asset allocation, and any trusts you create handle the “when” and “how.”
Once death occurs, planning pays off for your heirs if done right. Other than state law, your estate plan is the only roadmap a probate judge, or your trust attorney can use to settle your estate. And state laws don’t discriminate based on your spendthrift kids, your no-good brother, or your favorite niece.
Hopefully, I will eventually return safe and sound to my office in September and be available to settle any unresolved issues that came up during my vacation.
If I don’t come back, at least I know my own estate plan is complete. If yours isn’t, get to it before that banana peel trips you up!