Estate planning is important for everyone but especially important for those of us who already have combustible issues in their lives. If we fail to plan when we have unsettled problems, then when we die we are guaranteeing family conflicts and expensive legal battles will flame up.
Often, we know the source of potential drama. But sometimes we are not aware that certain aspects of our financial situations and relationship dynamics are breeding grounds for these conflicts. I call them HotPoints.
HotPoints are unresolved situations in our lives now that might cause problems later. I have included a few of these HotPoints here so you can see how they can help you detect problems which might arise later.
HOT ESTATES: You will need to do some estate planning if…
1. You have been married more than once.
2. Your spouse has been married previously.
3. You have children from a previous marriage or relationship.
4. Your spouse has children from a previous marriage.
5. You have children from more than one relationship.
6. There is a possibility that an unresolved paternity claim exists for you or your spouse.
7. You have an estrangement or alienation from your spouse, child, or parent.
8. Your spouse has an estrangement or alienation from their child or parent.
9. Your spouse does not get along with a child or parent of yours.
10. There are any hard feelings, misunderstandings, jealousies, resentments, or unresolved conflicts between your close family members.
11. You are the primary caretaker or breadwinner for your family.
12. You don’t have any life insurance.
13. You are single.
14. You are unmarried and cohabitate with someone you share assets or children with.
15. You are gay and/or living an alternative lifestyle.
16. You own a business.
17. A family member has fallen prey to creditors, relatives or others with pecuniary or controlling agendas, scam artists, etc.
18. You have any family members who are known to stir up trouble, who are busy bodies, or who always feel like they are being treated unfairly.
19. Any of your beneficiaries or family members are difficult, angry, combative, litigious, suspicious, controlling, naïve, immature, or unintelligent people.
20. You have a child who is a minor or who is over 18 but still needs some parental guidance.
21. You are currently involved in litigation or could be sued in the future.
22. You have or your family has a history of health issues which compromise one’s ability to handle business or personal affairs.
23. You have a secret or aspects of your private life you wish to remain private or controlled.
24. There are any oral understandings about your estate or care that you have with family members but that are unwritten and which you assume will be followed.
25. Your family has real estate that has been passed down from generation to generation without a will or proper probates. Often this is called Heir Property and results in the loss of the land.
26. You have made major changes to your estate or beneficiary designations that your family is unaware of.
27. You have valuable assets in your estate that would be difficult to divide amongst your beneficiaries.
28. Any member of your family will be significantly hurt, disappointed, resentful, or offended by the share of your estate you leave them.
29. You do not actually have sufficient assets to carry out the plan for your estate.
30. You have tried to create a will or an estate plan by yourself.
31. The person you would like to manage your affairs has credit or legal issues.
32. The beneficiary of your life insurance is your estate.
33. The beneficiary of your life insurance is one person but you actually intend them to use the funds for a different person (often your child).