3 Little-Known Factors That Could Disrupt Your Estate Plan

If you have estate planning documents in place such a last will and testament, durable power of attorney, trust and Advance Directive for Health Care, congrats! You’ve taken a big step toward achieving peace of mind and easing the burden on loved ones after you are gone. Unfortunately, however, your work doesn’t end whenever you sign your name on the dotted line. In order to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your family is taken care of, it is important to review your documents every couple years with a knowledgable attorney. Here are three things to look for so that your estate plan stays on track:

  1. Is your trust fully funded? Contrary to popular belief, just forming a trust does not avoid probate. Rather, you must re-title all of your property and assets in the name of the trust. Most people put their house in the trust. But what about other assets? Make sure any sizable bank accounts have been transferred to the trust. Also check to see if the beneficiary designations on your life insurance policies and retirement accounts have been updated to reflect that you have a trust. Finally, given the abundance of energy here in Oklahoma, it is vital to confirm that you executed mineral deeds conveying any oil gas interests you own to your trust.
  2. Do you have successors named for your attorney in fact and health care proxy? If the person you have named as your attorney in fact or health care proxy dies or is otherwise unable to serve and you have not designated a successor, a court could end up making the decision for you. This could lead to a delay in critical decisions regarding your medical treatment and finances in the event you become incapacitated.
  3. Have you explained your estate plan to your family? While you don’t have to give every detail, you need to make your family aware about the general contours of your estate plan, where to locate your documents and how to get in touch with your attorney if something happens to you.

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