I was recently speaking with a couple from Brentwood, Tennessee following one of my educational events and during our discussion this husband and wife couple indicated that they had their estate planning documents put together about 15 years ago. In addition, they also informed me that they had all the other estate legal documents drafted and completed as well including their Power of Attorney for Financial Matters, Health Care Power of Attorney, and Living Will. However, as I continued to have a discussion with this family, I uncovered that these 15 year-old documents may no longer meet their needs.
There are really 4 main reasons why it’s imperative to have back-up guardians, executors, and agents named in your estate planning documents:
- Families Rarely Update Their Estate Legal Documents as they Should
The fact of reality is that although you should update your estate legal documents after major life changes and significant law changes, few people in fact do so. Therefore, when you execute your estate legal documents it is important to have back-up executors, trustees, guardians, and agents named. If the executor, agent, trustee, and guardian that you named in your estate legal documents is either deceased or otherwise unwilling or able to serve, all your estate legal planning will turn out to be for nothing. In this situation, your family would be left with no other alternative but to pursue an action in court to have another individual appointed. Therefore, it is not only important that you update these documents regularly, but it is also important that you have back-ups named in the event that the person you named is no longer alive or otherwise does not want to serve.
- Naming a Back-Up Ensures That Your Wishes Will be Followed Without Any Unnecessary Court Intervention and Government Intrusion
As state above, if the trusted family member that you named as executor, trustee, agent, and guardian is not alive or otherwise unable to serve when you die or incapacitated, then your family will be required to go through a court process to have someone named to serve as executor, trustee, agent, and guardian. For this reason alone, you should have back-up executors, trustees, agents, and guardians named in the event that the trusted family member that you did name is either deceased or otherwise unable to serve.
- You Plan Was to Avoid Probate and Make The Estate Settlement Process Simple For Your Loved Ones – Make Sure This Occurs
However, perhaps the most important reason is to ensure that your estate passes outside probate and the estate settlement process is completely simple for your loved ones. In the event that your executor and successor trustees of your trust predecease you or are otherwise unable to serve, then the carefully drafted revocable trust that you put in place will have to require court intervention in order to name a successor trustee to administer the trust in the event there is a dispute among your family. This would lead to additional costs and delay that otherwise would not have had to occur.
If you have questions about estate planning and avoiding nursing home poverty, please reach out to me before you go see any other lawyer or make any other decision on your estate planning so I can send you our free legal report, Estate Planning inTennessee, which goes over all the common questions about probate in Tennessee. Also, if you would like to learn more about estate planning and probate in an educational environment, please reserve a spot at one of our upcoming live educational events or webinars that we have scheduled this month.