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.
Despite knowing that they should have an estate plan, many individuals look for shortcuts to creating an Estate Plan. They rely upon advice from seemingly well-intentioned individuals that if avoiding probate is their main goal and they don’t have a taxable estate, they need not seek out an attorney to create an Estate Plan. While options exist to avoid probate, probate avoidance is just one of many considerations in creating an Estate Plan.
When a famous individual dies, it’s always interesting to see how they set up their estate, if they bothered to undertake estate planning at all. These cases provide great lessons for Estate Planning practitioners both about what to do, as well as about what to avoid. In some cases, even when celebrities take the time to set up a proper estate plan, things go wrong. Paul Newman’s estate represents one such situation. Read on to learn more.