I’m a licensed Fairfax County Estate Planning attorney, and I chose this particular area of the law because I’m passionate about helping people in our community preserve their legacies. Far too often, people contact me when they are confronted with very difficult circumstances that could have been avoided through the implementation of the appropriate estate planning techniques.
The do-it-yourself estate planning downloads and worksheets that you can buy online are a major part of the problem. People tend to put the matter of estate planning on the back burner, and when they finally decide to act, they look for a so-called “easy answer.” Unfortunately, when people act without the appropriate legal assistance, things are not always so easy on the survivors that they leave behind.
The matter of estate planning can seem to be a simple one on the surface, and this makes the DIY option sound like a good idea. You list your property, you name beneficiaries to inherit it, and that’s the end of the story. In fact, this is actually a gross over-simplification. There are many subtleties that most people simply do not think about, and one of them is the importance of alternate beneficiaries.
When you are creating your inheritance list, you have certain expectations with regard to how long your heirs will live. This makes sense, but no one has a crystal ball. It is quite possible that a beneficiary, or multiple beneficiaries, could predecease you, even if they are younger than you are. To account for this, when you are planning your estate, you should name alternate or contingency beneficiaries who would be next in line to inherit.
It is wise to add alternate beneficiaries when you are originally drawing up your estate plan, but your initial plan is not set in stone. You have the right to revise your estate plan at any time, so you can amend your plan to add a contingency beneficiary or beneficiaries after the fact. Plus, even if you don’t have any specific changes in mind, Estate Planning attorneys such as myself recommend regular estate plan reviews every couple of years, because life circumstances can and do change. Things within your own life can evolve, and changes to relevant laws can also necessitate estate plan updates.
Estate Planning can be emotionally difficult. We are well aware of this, and we do everything possible to make our clients feel at ease from the outset. If you would like to discuss alternate beneficiaries or any other matter with an Estate Planning attorney, now is the time to take action. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 571-328-5795.