I recently read in the media that Prince died without a will, according to his sister. In such a case that someone dies intestate, a probate court takes over to distribute the deceased’s property, which could greatly differ from what the deceased would have wanted.
Prince’s situation serves as a reminder that estate planning is important for everyone. Even if you feel like you don’t have a lot of money or don’t have children or a spouse, you probably have an opinion of how your assets should be used.
In addition to creating proper estate planning documents, the above situation highlights the importance of getting copies of any estate planning documents to the right people to prevent delays at the very times for which they were created.
Estate planning documents aren’t just something you can create and set aside.
Besides to your attorney and executor of your estate, you’ll want to make sure your financial advisor has copies of your estate planning documents, especially if any documents have been updated to reflect your current wishes.
For instance, I had a client who was very diligent about updating his estate planning documents. After realizing that his previous Power of Attorney (POA) only gave his spouse the ability to act on his behalf after two doctors gave notice that he was incapacitated, he updated his POA to reflect his desire that his spouse would able to make decisions immediately in the event he was unable to act on his own.
We did not receive an updated copy and thus were also unable to forward the updates to our custodian. Unfortunately, there came a time when our client became incapacitated and his spouse needed to act as his POA. Since the custodian did not have the updated copy on file, it followed the guidelines stated in the previous POA and asked for two doctor’s notes before honoring her request.
You can imagine the frustration our client’s spouse experienced during an already emotional situation. Fortunately, we were able to resolve the situation, but it would have been better for everyone if the correct document had been on file in the first place.
As Mike wrote a few weeks back, Legacy clients have access to the eMoney vault, which provides a place to store important files, including estate planning documents.
By alerting us that an updated document has been uploaded to the vault, we can make sure the information has been relayed to the appropriate parties to avoid a problem if the documents need to be used.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the vault or finding an estate planning professional to help get your affairs in order, let your financial advisor know so we can make sure you find the help you need.