I love October, I love fall, I love Halloween! In that vain, I’ve put together a few estate planning horror stories. While the telling of these stories is light hearted and fun, these unfortunate situations happen all the time! I tell these stories, so you and your loved ones don’t end up in the same heart wrenching situations.
The Tale of the Ex Spouse Revenge
Mr. X was a single dad who had just survived a terrible, high conflict divorce from his ex-wife and mother of his three children. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and Mr. X passed away suddenly, leaving behind a sizable estate. Unfortunately, he hadn’t gotten around to creating a will or trust and died intestate. This left the court to decide who would manage the inheritance left behind for his 3 young children. Since Mr. X passed away without naming anyone to assume that role, who did the court appoint? You guessed it – the kid’s Mother, his ex-wife, arguably the last person in the world he would ever want in charge of his money.
Moral of this story: If you are divorced but have put off creating or updating your estate plan, don’t delay you never know when tragedy could strike!
The Tale of Empty Trust
Mr. & Mrs. Dracula set up a trust with their lawyer for the benefit of their son, Vlad. Unfortunately, their lawyer’s office never gave them the appropriate instructions for how to properly title and transfer their assets into the trust. When their untimely demise came, the trust was empty and their son was left to take the trust to probate court and to pay an attorney to help him get their assets moved into to the trust, which took months.
Moral of the story: Work with an attorney who helps you make sure the trust is properly funded once it is created, or it will not work as it was intended!
The Legend of the Abandoned Heirs
Based on a real life horror story: famous movie director John Singleton had a son and created a will leaving his vast fortune to him. Great! The only problem? Mr. Singleton went on to have six more children with different women, and never updated his will! This left six of his seven children disinherited and left to challenge their inheritance in probate court- which went on for years.
Moral of the story: Update your estate plan with every major change in your life: marriage, birth, divorce, new inheritances, businesses, all of these changes require you to update your will.
The Curse of the Common Law Marriage
Carrie and Norman lived happily together as a couple for many, many years. Suddenly Norman, a motel owner, passed away without a will or trust to pass on his estate to his beloved Carrie. Because Florida does not recognize common law marriage and he died without a will, Carries was disinherited and left without a claim to Norman’s estate.
Moral of the Story: If you are not married, but you want to protect your partner or other non-relatives in the event of your death, you need to create an estate plan.
The final moral of the story: An estate plan is a lasting gift you can leave your loved ones. Upon your death, whether it’s suddenly or not, your family has instructions of how to proceed forward with your assets and affairs. They won’t be left to flounder through probate court while processing their grief.
Contact my office for a free Estate Planning Consultation today so we can get estate planning off your to do list!