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Tips for Making Sure Your Estate Plan is Carried Out

Posted on in Estate Planning

CA estate lawyerIn estate litigation, there is a problem known as the “worst evidence rule.” When there is any legal dispute over a trust, will, living will, or power of attorney, the only person who is guaranteed to know what these documents mean is generally either dead or incapacitated. In neither event can the individual who executed the document hop up on the witness stand and clear things up - nor can they guide others to where they have placed these important documents. This is why it is critical that all estate and incapacity planning documents are well in order before any precipitating event kicks them into effect. One of the best ways to make sure the plan you put time and money into creating will be enforced is to work with an attorney and follow their advice.

How Can I Make Sure My Estate and Incapacity Plans Are Enforced?

There are a few steps you can take to increase the likelihood that the plan you made is going to be carried out. For starters, make sure that your documents are very clear. Using precise, unambiguous language is extremely important. A good attorney will know how to write out these documents in a way that prevents confusion.

It is also a good idea to spread the word about what you have done. If you make a will or trust and then shove it in a closet - or worse, a locked safe - without telling anyone, you run the risk that your loved ones will assume that you are intestate and proceed accordingly. It could take months for anyone to find your testamentary documents - at which point you have created more of a mess than anything.

That said, be careful in who you tell. If there is anyone in your family who might have a motive to not follow your plan - for example, a disinherited adult child - it may be best to leave your documents with a neutral party, like a neighbor or friend.

When it comes to incapacity planning documents, you should always talk with the person named in your health care power of attorney. Make sure they are on the same page and would be willing to carry out your wishes as you have instructed. Give them a copy so they have it on hand in case of emergency. Make sure the hospital you use has a copy of your living will and POA. If you live in a skilled nursing facility or senior living center, they should also have copies.

If you choose not to be resuscitated or have other “heroic measures” performed, instruct your loved ones to post your living will or DNR in several prominent locations where emergency responders would be sure to see it. Over your bed is a good spot. You do not want them to find it after they have already taken these extreme life-preserving measures.

Call a California Estate Planning Attorney

Working with a law firm, like Law Office of David Schechet is one of the best ways to make sure that your estate and incapacity plans are well-written and enforceable. Our skilled L.A. estate planning lawyers can offer further advice to help you raise the chances that your wishes will be carried out. Call 800-282-4731 for a free consultation.




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