Do You Still Have a Last Minute Vacation Estate Plan?

It’s that time of the year again – time for estate planning attorneys to slap together a few quickie, last minute estate plans that are signed in a hurry right before mom, dad and the kids head out for summer vacation. While I’m sure that statistically speaking the odds of dying while you’re on vacation aren’t any different from the odds of dying when you’re not, for many the family vacation is the tipping point for deciding to get their final affairs in order.

Don’t get me wrong – I really do believe that anything that motivates someone to put together an estate plan is a good thing. But what I find to be the biggest problem with a last minute vacation estate plan is that in many cases the plan is viewed as a “stop gap plan” to cover the bare minimum and will be updated to a more comprehensive plan when the family returns from vacation. And then low and behold, the quickie plan is thrown in a drawer where it sits for years and is never updated, and when the time comes to use the plan it fails miserably.

I have one favor to ask – when you return from summer vacation, please pull your estate planning documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and see if they still make sense for you and your family.  If the documents were signed in a hurry right before you went on vacation, then chances are they will be out of touch with your current personal and financial situations.  Of course, the same goes for any estate planning documents that are more than a few years old, since significant changes have been made to federal estate tax laws since 2010 and the plan that made perfect sense in 2010 may create a mess in 2014.  The same goes for state estate taxes – there have been lots of changes recently to those laws too.  Thus, there’s no time like the present to get your estate plan up to date.

Photo: Old Savannah Cotton Exchange, Savannah, GA (can you guess where I went on vacation?)

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