Lost and Found: Not What You Want in an Estate Plan

by | Apr 9, 2012 | Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

Lost: 1 Guitar

It was the  park police calling, “Someone found your guitar at Washington Park.”

A few Sundays ago Michelle and I took the kids to the park. While we were there I played the guitar and we sang together. When we were done, I carried my guitar and books to the car. But I had to drop them suddenly when Cole took off in the opposite direction towards the road. I ran after Cole, caught up with him and strapped him in the carseat. Then we all took off — leaving the guitar behind! What things have you forgotten in the midst of the chaos of life?

Lost: 1 Certificate of Deposit

It’s just very easy to forget things sometimes. One planning tool that sounds simple and straightforward is “Payable on Death” (or POD). This is where you can leave your bank accounts to someone at your death. By filling out a form now, the bank will cut a check later to the person you named. Easy, right? But, it’s also risky.

Suppose Grandma has 4 grandkids. She has 4 CD’s at the bank and decides to leave one for each grandchild using a POD. Well, as time passes, she develops dementia and another grandkid is born. In her last months, one of the CD’s is cashed in and used for medical expenses. When she dies she has 3 CD’s left but 5 grandchildren.

Someone is then faced with the difficult task of telling the left out grandchildren, “Sorry, your grandmother didn’t leave anything for you in her plan. If she had a CD for you previously, it must have been spent.” Unlike with my guitar, the grandkids’ CD could not be recovered.

To make matters worse, multiple POD’s can easily get out of whack later. Are there better options than using a POD? One alternative is a Living Trust. Grandma could have stated in her Living Trust (had she had one) that “each grandchild shall receive $10,000” and then the CD’s could be placed in a trust. Regardless of what happened to any specific CD, none of the grandkids would have been left out.

Our FREE Getting Started With Wills & Trusts workshop is a great first step toward making sure you have a plan that works for your loved ones. At this 1-hour workshop you’ll learn about how we work, whether Edwards Group is right for you and the key steps in our unique process. We’ll even talk about how fees are calculated. Call us at 217-726-9200 to RSVP or get more information. There is no cost or obligation for attending!

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