The Last Step of Your Estate Planning

Often the difference between a faulty estate plan and success lies in a breakdown of communication.

It does not matter how much forethought you put into distributing your assets, or how expensive it was to draft your will or trust if the people bound by these documents do not know what they contain, or potentially that they even exist.

It may be uncomfortable, but it is important to have conversations about certain important topics with those you will be relying upon to manage your affairs.

Most important is the location of your originally signed documents so they can be used when needed.

Whether it is a shoebox at the foot of your bed, in a safe deposit box, or at your attorney’s office/local Register of Wills through the Orphan’s Court, it is crucial your family and/or named agents no where they can find your last will & testament, health care directive, and/or power of attorney should they be needed.

In order to prevent unpleasant surprises during an already trying time, it can also be useful to discuss the contents of these documents.

You may not want to tell someone they will not be receiving an asset, that someone other than them will make your medical decisions if you are unable to, or you have made a decision they do not approve of, but in many cases being proactive is beneficial. If nothing else, these conversations allow for a thorough examination of your estate plan and determination if it meets your wishes and whether those involved can fulfill their assigned roles.

Knowing who prepared your documents can help with the previous two concerns.

If an original will cannot be located it may be in the office of the attorney who prepared it, they may have filed it with the Register of Wills, and in the worst case they should have a copy made on the date of its signing, which if a petition and consent paperwork is filed, can be used for the probate process. The attorney who prepared the documents should also be able to clarify any seemingly ambiguous terms or questions loved ones may have.

The key to preventing these breakdowns in communication, as in most things estate-planning lies in just that, planning.

Taking a smaller action now can almost always save a much larger effort later, for questions about making an estate plan, talking to your family about your decisions, or any other Elder Law matter, contact Abraham & Bauer today.

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Planning ahead is a gift to your loved ones!