Everyone likes a good surprise from time to time. There are some situations where a surprise can be welcome. An estate plan is not one of these situations. A surprise in an estate plan can lead to difficulties and difficulties can cost your estate money.
A surprise in planning an estate is anything out of the ordinary that would be unexpected or cause hurt feelings among loved ones and as an unintended result lead to increased probate and lawyer fees. Costing your estate extra money is not good because it is your potential heirs that will suffer as a result. It is simple to only think of short term motivations when making an estate strategies, this can often be detrimental in the long run. While it may not cost you any money while you are alive to have a surprise in your estate plan, it can cost your potential heirs money and time in costly and lengthy estate litigation. How to prevent surprises in an estate plan is simple. If there is any part of the estate strategy that can cause disagreement or is controversial such as children receiving uneven shares are being disinherited altogether, do not keep this a secret to those that might not be happy with your estate plan. Secrets combined with money are the worst kind of surprise for someone that is expecting one result and is forced into another one.
The most common estate challenger is a child that expected an inheritance and was disappointed. This disappointment leads to hurt feelings, anger and costly estate litigation that wastes everyone time and money. There is a way to prevent all of this from happening if one is set on doing something in their plan that could be problematic. Tell that person that has the potential of having their feelings hurt in person or write them a letter so that they know in advance and there is a record that they knew in advance. Their feelings may be hurt, but it may prevent an estate challenge down the line. Estate challenges can be messy and strain family relationships in further so it is a good idea to keep everything out in the open and be up front with your potential heirs. It is ultimately more important and valuable to keep a family together than it is to leave money or things behind. It is the legacy and memories that should be preserved and not feelings of anger due to a surprise.
Evan Guthrie Law Firm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of South Carolina. The Evan Guthrie Law Firm practices in the areas of estate planning probate personal injury and divorce and family law. For further information visit his website at http://www.ekglaw.com. Evan Guthrie Law Firm 164 Market Street Suite 362 Charleston SC 29401 843-926-3813
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