Why Do Estate Plans Fail and Not Work as Intended? The Answer Lies Below …

June 15, 2019

Authored by: Stephen R. Elville, Esq. — Elville and Associates, P.C. — 443-393-7696, steve@elvilleassociates.com, @elvilleassoc

What’s been on my mind for the past several weeks is an image – actually two separate scenes – perhaps it is a sequence. It happened about four months ago. Two couples came into my office during the same week to discuss their estate planning. These couples were totally unrelated, and their planning needs were not extraordinary. So why do they linger in my imagination? They had several things in common related to estate planning, but two things in particular. Can you guess what they were? I’ll bet you an ice cream cone that you can’t. Ready? While both couples had existing estate plans and had engaged in estate planning many years earlier – the existing plans were revocable trusts – (1) neither couple had heard from their respective estate planning attorneys for 16 and 18 years respectively; and (2) neither revocable trust plan contained any of the respective couples’ assets. In other words, both of these mature couples had implemented revocable trust-based estate plans and then had not heard from their estate planning law firm since the time of execution (nearly two decades), and both trusts were unfunded (assets were not properly aligned). Therefore, but for these couples having the intuitive awareness to seek assistance from a new law firm, both plans were 100% on track to fail. Can you imagine? Yes, plan failure can and does happen, as these examples illustrate.
Yet, there is no reason for this kind of risk in estate planning. Risk in estate planning can be minimized and controlled through a compassionate and caring process, client education, and continuing maintenance and updating. Furthermore, choosing the right estate planning firm and service model is critical to your estate planning and to your family. For more information about the estate planning process and what to look for in an estate planning, elder law, or special needs planning attorney, please contact Jeffrey Stauffer at jeff@elvilleassociates.com, or Mary Guay Kramer at mary@elvilleassociates.com. #elvilleeeducation