A few days ago, I finished reviewing and approving my third Will & Testament. I have revised my Will three times - at 25, 42 and 50. Just part of the normal process we all need to go through. We all have the same worries about taking care of our family. Reviewing a Will also means reading related documents. I have a few partnerships and trusts plus my medical and financial Power of Attorney forms. Creating these documents occurred at different times. Finally, all of these documents have to be in sync. 211 pages. Ugh! However, the review focus of a Will & Testament plus related documents hinges on more than tax and legal stuff. We all need to consider our assets, philosophy of our money and our family. Not easy.
As a co-founder of Wealth Advisors Trust Company, I hold myself accountable to the best estate planning practices. We all learn by sharing processes, successes, and failures.
I delayed the Will & Testament review by 11 months. Rather than delay any further, after XMAS 2017, I set aside 4 hours of reading and thinking time. It took a while to frame out the review process but also the end result. The trickiest part revolved around the philosophy of my assets and my family. Any Will & Testament needs to provide enough guidance without too many restrictions. A tough balance. Nevertheless, examples exist all around us of horror stories from over or under planning a Will. The photo below shows a rough sketch of my approach to analyze my current Will and related documents. Notwithstanding this analysis, it needed to be communicated to my estate planning attorney.
Attorney's of all sorts love words. Some are economical with their words like John Steinbeck and other are verbose like Charles Dickens. I try to mimic John Steinbeck. This provides two advantages. Firstly, the attorney spends less time and money understanding your goals, questions, observations. Secondly, you force yourself to provide clear and thoughtful guidance, questions etc. to the attorney. I have found this provides a great outcome. It works for me. Naturally, everybody has their own style. As an illustration, below shows the rough example of the email to my attorney. It provided all the Will & Testament analysis, questions, issues etc.
One phone call for 15 minutes. A one-hour meeting. Consequently, new documents arrived about two weeks later.
People who are not familiar with this stuff can still follow the rough pattern and process. Nevertheless, the key point for everyone rests on reading ALL the documents. Above all, be aware and honest that you will follow every step in the Will & Testament plus related documents. If you don't, they may not work as intended.
I have set-up a task on Salesforce.com to review it again at 57 unless something big changes. This cobbler's kids do have shoes. I hope this helps shed some light on very real and personal issues we must deal with.