I met with a client recently who really shows an example of having some written estate planning in place is better than nothing. In this case it could be SUBSTANTIALLY better!
Client is in a 2nd marriage, in her 70′s, no kids, but husband does have kids from a previous marriage. They have some assets together and she has significant assets of her own (i.e. “separate property”).
She wants her husband to have the use of some assets but she wants a lot of assets to go to certain charitable organizations that she has named. This is all very doable of course. I sent the first rough draft for her review two years ago. She still has not signed the documents.
Do you think her estate will be distributed as she wants if she doesn’t get these documents signed? Heck no! In fact, being married with no kids her estate will go 100% to her husband and then 100% to HIS kids. She loves him and she likes his kids just fine but do you think she wants his kids to eventually get her whole estate? That’s just not her plan at all.
However, she won’t sign the documents because she is still debating about a few small points. She acknowledges she has made this much more difficult than is needed and she acknowledges that she should just sign something… but she can’t do it. She really wants it to be “perfect.”
Let me say it will NEVER BE PERFECT! Things change all the time. Assets change, family relationships change, and stuff happens! Her husband had a stroke recently. This made it all the more reality.
I feel confident she will sign her documents soon… but I can’t say that for sure. Hopefully she gets it done before it’s too late!