The building blocks of an estate plan are the Last Will & Testament, financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and various kinds of Trusts. Based on a client’s instructions, the attorney typically creates drafts for the client’s review and approval. Once the client and attorney are in sync about all of the provisions and the language needed to accomplish the client’s wishes, the final documents are prepared. The client signs these in the presence of a notary and two witnesses (At our office, an attorney is always one of the witnesses.) In most cases, the client goes home with their original signed estate plan documents; sometimes the client leaves them with the attorney or with a trusted third party for safekeeping.
Then what happens? The years fly by. People sometimes forget where they put their documents. Perhaps they downsized, and boxed up & discarded lots of “old papers.” Perhaps they moved and they have stacks of boxes sitting in the attic or basement. Perhaps somebody came in to “help clean up” and inadvertently discarded important papers.
It’s a good idea to periodically pull out and review your estate plan because it may need updating due to life’s changes. Other posts have gone into this topic in greater depth. Another good reason to look for your estate plan Is to simply make sure you still have the documents in a place where they can be found if needed! If you discover that your documents are misplaced or lost, you might want to call your attorney and arrange to sign a replacement set of documents. Why?
A lost document creates a legal problem that often requires court intervention to solve. If there is no Power of Attorney and you’ve become incapacitated, somebody may need to file a court action to have a Guardian appointed. If you pass away and your Will cannot be found, the estate may end up as “intestate” (“no Will”). This means that State laws — rather than you– specify who the inheritors will be. There might be other court remedies, but all of that is beyond the scope of this post. Point is, you want to make sure you know where your estate plan is located, and you want to make sure that your Agent under Power of Attorney as well as your Executor can get ahold of those documents when the time comes.
Call us to review, update or replace your estate plan ………… 732-382-6070