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Organizing an estate plan to avoid confusion

Louisiana fans of Stan Lee might know that near the end of his life, the comic book artist had several issues with his estate and the people around him. Among them were his claim that $1.4 million was missing from his account and an accusation that his daughter was befriending men who tried to take advantage of him. He took back the latter accusation even though he had signed a notarized document making the claim.

People do not need to be as wealthy as Stan Lee to need an estate plan. Everyone needs certain documents, such as documents that make arrangements in cases of becoming incapacitated. As people get older, they might be more vulnerable to being influenced by others, or loved ones might believe they were influenced. This is one reason why it can be important to plan effectively and discuss with a professional how incapacity might be ascertained.

There are other issues that estate owners may want to discuss with a professional as well. Among these are whether a trust is appropriate, who will be chosen to manage the estate and how often the estate plan should be reviewed. Planners might also want to talk to family members.

This conversation with loved ones can help them understand the intention of the estate plan and may make conflict less likely. It can be particularly important to talk about the estate plan to those who will have a role in it. People should be aware of the roles they are being asked to perform and understand what their duties will be. For example, someone who is appointed to make medical decisions in cases of incapacitation should understand the estate owner's health care wishes. In addition, being a trustee may be a significant responsibility that requires some financial expertise. A lawyer could help a client make wise estate planning choices.

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