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  • Writer's pictureBrian A. Raphan, Esq.

Do I need to revise my Will as the result of the Solar Eclipse?


Solar Eclipse Viewing

Despite the excitement and importance surrounding the Solar Eclipse the answer is obviously no. Now that we got out of the way, here are a few easy reasons you should have a well-considered Estate Plan or consider revising it:

 

1. A "Good" Legacy: A "good legacy" is not only about leaving money. It is also about leaving "peace and harmony.” Your Estate Plan should ensure you set up your beneficiaries to succeed relationally, and avoid litigation and disputes with one another. A parent who leaves a bad Estate Plan likely to result in litigation may rip the family apart and may want to reconsider their plan. Litigation is expensive, as is the emotional cost of litigation. Both of these costs can also overshadow the real loss at hand – your death. Do you want the memory of "you" to be, "Remember, that mess over mom or dad's estate….”. Obviously no.

 

2. Protecting Your Residence: Your residence (or its contents) may hold sentimental value and represent the life you have built with your family. By including it in your Will, you can ensure that it remains within your family lineage and it is passed down to your chosen beneficiaries. Or, you can direct your Executor to sell your residence and divide the proceeds to avoid disputes.

 

3. Avoiding Family Conflict: Without a clear plan in place, disagreements and conflicts among family members can arise. Putting your wishes in writing can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure your loved ones understand your intentions. Sometimes, discussing your wishes with your family is also advisable. For example, if you are certain your children will fight over your estate (perhaps you are disinheriting one child), it may be better if you are part of the discussion rather than just leaving the "mess" for them.

 

4. Second Marriages: If you have children from a previous marriage, it may be important to consider their financial well-being and the well-being of your “new” spouse. By specifying in your Will how your assets, including your house, should be distributed, you can ensure that your children receive their fair share of your estate. Perhaps you leave your estate in trust for your spouse so he or she is well provided for during his or her lifetime, but upon their death, the trust assets pass to your children rather than your spouse's children, or even remote relatives of your spouse. You can also consider leaving a “Life-Estate” to your spouse so they can remain in the marital home for their lifetime, but upon their death, that home "automatically" passes in accordance with your wishes as you say.

 

5. Maintaining Control: Creating a Trust, either as a stand-alone document or as part of your Will, can allow you to retain control over the distribution of your assets for generations. You can specify who receives what and under what conditions, ensuring that your wishes are carried out precisely as you intended.

  

Remember, estate planning is not just about finances; it is about ensuring that your loved ones (sometimes family, sometimes friends) are taken care of and that your legacy lives on. By keeping your Estate Plan up to date with your wishes, you can provide peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones, knowing that your wishes will be honored long after you're gone.

The Legacy that nobody wants, is a bad plan, that leaves misery, litigation, and lots of legal fees. Plan right, while you can. There’s plenty of time before the next solar eclipse.


Regards,

Brian A. Raphan, Esq

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