So you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule and made a wise investment into an Orange County estate plan.    Now what?  Do you still need to think about end-of-life planning or can you check this off your “to-do” list for good?

Well contrary to popular belief, having an Orange County estate plan does not guarantee that your wishes will be honored in a court of law following your death.  In fact, there are a number of mistakes well-meaning people make that can cause their once iron-clad documents to fail at the end of their life.

To help you avoid this, I want to discuss the 3 things you should NEVER do with your estate plan over the course of your life.  These 3 tips will help to ensure your estate plan stands the test of time and that your wishes are honored when death or incapacity occurs:

1.       Write on it– The last thing you want to do is write directly on your estate planning documents if you need to make a change.  It’s so easy to forget to initial a change or replace whatever it is that you crossed out in the right way so it is upheld by the courts.  As you can imagine, DIY changes can open your estate plan to a whole host of problems, including the unintentional disinheritance of a loved one or questions about your true wishes in a court of law.  Therefore, if you require a change to your documents, call your estate planning attorney ASAP for help.

2.       Neglect it– There are a number of life changes that require you to update your estate plan over the years including the birth of a child, purchase or sale of real estate, acquisition of new assets, changes to life insurance policies, changes in your health care wishes, etc.  Not making such essential updates as your life and the law changes over time is the number one reason perfectly good estate plans fail when families need them the most.   If you’re not working with an attorney who provides automatic updates to your plan at certain points in time, then make it your business to keep your estate plan updated through the years.

3.       Keep it a secret– We’ve all heard stories of secret wills emerging or documents suddenly missing following a person’s death.  The number one reason why this happens is simply because people fail to tell their loved ones what documents they have in place and where they can find them when death or incapacity occurs.  To avoid this problem, I always advise my clients to keep their loved ones in the loop as to where their documents are and what they say.  That way there is no “mystery” as to what you ultimately want to take place following your passing.

Of course if you are reading this brief checklist and realize that you’ve committed one of the above mistakes, it’s important that you meet with an estate planning attorney in Orange County as soon as possible to get things straightened out.  You certainly don’t want to take the chance of something happening to you without the most updated documentation in place.

If you’d like to meet with me, your neighborhood Orange County estate planning attorney, please feel free to call our office at (949) 260-1400 or fill out the form on this page to schedule a complimentary appointment.