Making decisions ahead of time is always easier and simpler than waiting for an emergency. Unfortunately, many people scramble to get their decisions documented when faced with significant illness or only months to live. Estate planning is a process that is put on the back-burner. What happens when you delay too long and your time runs out?
Last-minute planning is necessary when there is no plan in place or a change to an existing plan needs to be made. It’s a situation you can probably picture. The primary issue with last-minute planning is often capacity. Did the person executing the will have the required capacity? Oftentimes a person in their final illness requires heavy medication which affects their ability to make decisions or to communicate their wishes effectively. Sometimes last-minute planning is further complicated because the person has difficulty physically signing legal documents.
Even if a client has “communicated” their wishes, a delay in the execution of the documents for whatever reason can be disastrous. In these situations, despite everyone “knowing” what the person wanted a month ago, there’s no way of telling if that’s what they want in their final moments.
When a person creating a will lacks the required capacity, its validity may be challenged by those negatively affected by the change. These challenges are made in the probate court and dealing with them can quickly become expensive, time consuming and divisive. For these reasons, we always urge clients to have a plan in place before this situation arises. If you would like to make sure that the right people inherit your estate, please make an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys at AlerStallings.
Putting together a plan now ensures that the decisions are documented and a plan has been clearly laid out for after your passing. If you are facing a last minute planning situation, we can still help, but spending a little time with an attorney ahead of time would certainly increase the likelihood your wishes are honored.