As the world shrinks due to increased mobility and interconnectedness, estate planning has become more complex. Now estate planning requires understanding issues that arise when a client owns assets in another country or resides in the U.S. but lacks citizen status. Things change for clients who neither reside in the U.S., nor have U.S. citizenship, but who own U.S. property.
Some individuals create a Revocable Trust, pour-over Will, Property Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Authorization Act and think that those documents alone constitute a complete Estate Plan that will protect their family. While the documents themselves represent a solid beginning, the documents don’t cover every asset or concern. A qualified Estate Planning attorney will consider all and provide advice regarding all the elements necessary for a complete Estate Plan.
With the proliferation of the internet has come a plethora of websites claiming that individuals may take a “Do It Yourself” approach to Estate Planning. While individuals may think that a plan created by one of these companies will meet their needs and save them money, the opposite is true. These plans often fail to contain necessary provisions and usually cost the family more in attorneys’ fees. In addition, a Trusts and Estate practitioner can alert a family to techniques designed to lower the tax burden upon the death of an individual. It’s easy to make costly mistakes if you don’t have an attorney both at the drafting stage and the administration stage of Estate Planning.
Those who take the time to create an Estate Plan usually desire to keep it private and to ensure that no beneficiary can alter the plan after their death. Sometimes, the desire to maintain privacy backfires and produces unanticipated consequences, such as litigation.
When people think about an Estate Plan, they often have tunnel vision and focus on just a few of the many considerations that influence the plan. Most individuals focus on their assets and figuring out to whom they want those assets to pass. While those things matter, thinking about the intended beneficiary and their individual circumstances also matters. Certain types of beneficiaries require additional planning.