By Steven J. Gibbs, Esq.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called “Estate Planning & Freedom With Purpose” which was about finding and doing your estate planning in accordance with your life’s purpose.
Good estate planning is good mental health, and the opposite is also true because poor estate planning creates untold heartache and stress and this leads to many mental health challenges for families.
So with that in mind, the most common examples of poor estate planning and the mental health challenges that often follow are:
1. Old Documents That Are Not Reliable
“Old documents” generally may be any estate planning documents that are more than 5 years old and the age of the documents directly relates to the likelihood of problems. Often, older documents include deceased witnesses or witnesses from locations away from your current state of residence. These documents are often not notarized due to changes in the legal requirements over many years. So if a document isn’t notarized and the witnesses cannot be located, they may not be admissible in probate court and this often leads to huge family conflicts because if a will is not admissible then the entire plan may be in jeopardy.
2. Wrong Family Members Appointed to Key Roles
Sometimes appointing the “favorite” child as the sole trustee or other designated role seems like a great idea. However, what often appears to be a cordial relationship between family members during the parents’ lifetime can turn into chaos after the parents pass and this can result in expensive estate litigation and horrible stress.
3. Poorly Drafted Documents That Are Not Clear
Poorly drafted documents with issues, such as a lack of clarity about who gets certain assets, can lead to significant family conflicts. Many assume that everyone will just “get along” and this is often not the case following a parent’s death. Sometimes the first thing out of a sibling’s mouth is “where is my money”. While the reasons for negative family behaviors are most appropriate for those in the mental health professions, the point is that a well-drafted set of estate documents can eliminate much of this “drama”.
4. No Documents Leading To Confused Family Members
These are the worst kinds of scenarios because no one knows where the assets are or what to do? These situations are generally the most expensive for families because professionals such as lawyers and investigators may need to be hired just to begin to make sense of the mess. Expensive court proceedings may need to be commenced to simply decide where to distribute the assets. Most of the time, no one in the family is happy except for the long lost relative who ends up with the bulk of the estate.
5. No Documents Leading to Expensive Court Proceedings
Often, the problem of “no estate documents” leads to a payday for lawyers. Probate costs are generally increased if there was no plan in place because “additional services” will be required to help the court figure it all out. If the problem is one of disability and not death, expensive guardianship proceedings are often required in order for a family member to assist the ailing parent. Often, simple documents such as a durable power of attorney or guardianship declaration would have avoided the uncertainty and stress faced by families in these situations.
It is worth mentioning a key reason many people fail to create or maintain a clear estate plan and that is the belief that a poorly articulated plan is “simpler”. Unfortunately what often appears to be a simple plan is flawed with error because plans that appear simple may lack the flexibility needed if things happen in a way that was not expected.
So the take away is to pursue good mental health strategies for yourself and your family. A well-prepared estate plan is designed for the sole purpose of bringing order to the chaos mentioned above and fostering harmony and good mental health among family members.
I hope this was in the interest of good mental health and Mental Health Month…and
As always, I hope this is helpful and . . . Until next time…
Steven J. Gibbs, Esq.
Steven Gibbs founded the Gibbs Law Office in January 2009, committed to providing client-centered legal services.
Steve as he would rather be called, is not your typical attorney. If you appreciate the staunch egotistical mannerism of most firms, you will be delighted with Steve’s unpretentious approach to educating and then assisting his client. Instead of giving you his complacent and lofty ideas, he would rather pursue your expectations with professional conversation about resolving your concerns under the Law. It’s your life and it’s his job to make your legal expectations come true while using years of his guidance and knowledge.
Steve was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1999, the Florida Bar in 2007 and was recently admitted to the California bar. Keeping abreast of law changes in these three States, as well as the United States, assists him in all aspects of the types of law the firm practices.
Along his career path, he was an associate attorney for an insurance defense law firm; an in-house real estate negotiator for Target Corporation; and corporate counsel for Civix, LLC and Vice President for North American Properties where he was responsible for various real estate transactions, including legal issues and negotiating unresolved business issues. Prior to opening Gibbs Law Office, PLLC, he was an associate with the firm of Roberts & Engvalson, P.A. where he gained his knowledge of trusts, estate planing and Wills. He opened his own firm in 2008 and now focuses on laws that will enrich the needs of his clients throughout their lives and those of their children. The firm has developed a practice dealing only with Trusts and Estate Planning, Wills, Medicaid Planning, Elder Law, Real Estate, Business Law and Probate.
Quoting from Steve “I decided to practice in areas that families will need as they progress down life’s path. To help them with a solid foundation that will carry them throughout there lives is a rewarding experience for me and my staff.”
Gibbs Law Office
www.gibbslawfl.com . email@example.com