Most of us think, “thick stack of legal papers”? Ugh! “No, thank you!” But when it comes to estate planning, it’s just the opposite. You see, legal problems in estates are often caused not by bad estate planning, but by Failure-To-Plan (“FTP”), even in estates where the person or couple thought they’d done everything right.
FTP is insidious and you don’t even know if you have it because it’s invisible! It’s the absence of a clause your estate plan needs after you’re gone and can’t add the clause anymore. It’s the missing Asset Protection Trust for the divorcing child. It’s the Special Needs Trust that they intended to get to but kept putting off because they couldn’t bear to truly face how serious their son’s mental illness was.
Avoidance of FTP is why our estate planning documents are so thick and why we include so many of them. I’ve heard clients say, I can’t even count how many times, “I just want a simple plan.” Sometimes I respond, “When? Simple now? Or Simple later?” There are exceptions, of course, but in general: the easier it is to plan now, the harder it will be to administer later.