The Problem with Prefabricated Estate Plans

From the desk of Del Mar, San Diego Estate Planning Lawyer, Kristina Hess

Prefabricated Estate Plans

A lot of San Diego companies are now offering prefabricated estate plans to their employees.  Alternatively, San Diego companies are offering legal insurance that will cover a basic will and then you pay additional fees for a California living trust.  It’s also true that the military has offered such services through on-base legal counsel offices for quite some time.  If you have such a prefabricated, one-size-fits-all plan, you might be surprised to learn that your planning might not be as comprehensive as you might imagine.

Better Than Nothing

The reality is that having a plan is generally better than not having a plan.  Think about the issues that planning can solve in advance.  Passing on assets without the need for intervention by a San Diego Probate Court, seamless transfer of guardianship rights for your children, and knowing that your wishes will be followed with respect to medical treatment in the event that you are incapacitated.  Having a plan in place can help you sleep at night, because you’ll know that your loved ones will be cared for emotionally and financially and that they’ll know you made the tough choices with respect to your own medical care, rather than laying that burden on their shoulders.

So in general, having any sort of plan is typically better than not having a plan at all.  That’s exactly why many employers and the military offer free, prefabricated plans.  It gives our soldiers and other employees an opportunity to put a plan in place, which is much more than can be said for the majority of people in our country.

But Not Good Enough

If you have an employer provided or military estate plan, what you really need to do is ask whether it is good enough for you and your family.  Does it fully serve your needs, and is it customized to your unique situation?  Was it drafted with care specifically for you by a person who has made it their mission to get the details of estate planning right?  Our firm focuses on estate planning clients, so I can tell you from experience that no two clients are alike.  There is a lot on the line, and you probably should at least take a hard look at the planning you’ve been given to see if it really does address all of your needs.

In many cases, employer provided estate plans are “administered” by people who really don’t understand the intricacies of estate planning.  That means that they might not even know what questions to ask and what areas to address, not to mention what areas could be of particular concern to you.

Get It Reviewed

It is important to have your plan reviewed to make sure it meets your needs and adjusts to changing tax laws.  In addition, every plan should be reviewed at a minimum of every three years.  The law may change, your fiduciaries may change (the people you have selected to manage your assets if you are not here), or the law may have changed.

Create a legacy that lasts!

Kristina Hess

San Diego Estate Planning lawyer