Many wise persons have said that if you want to uplevel your life, you always need to take responsibility. You should not blame others for your unhappiness or frustrations. How you react to something that happens in your life is what defines you, you are not defined by what has happened to you. I live by this and consider myself an action-taker. We encourage our clients to ask as many questions as they want; we want to make sure they understand their documents and how the process works. We also encourage our clients to work with their financial advisor after they execute their documents with us.
Many times, our clients have been working with a financial advisor for years before they come to us. But after an estate plan is established, the clients’ assets and the legal documents need to work together. There is usually a beneficiary form that needs to be updated as part of the estate planning process. Failure to update a form or follow your attorney’s homework assignments can cause an asset to unnecessarily have to go through probate. Although this is not the end of the world, it’s a huge headache for the client, especially because they are grieving the loss of a loved one.
I had lovely clients contact our office during the pandemic to get their estate plan in order. They had been working with a financial advisor for years, and the advisor had given them all the beneficiary forms to fill out prior to my involvement. The clients assumed that all the forms had been taken care of with their advisor, and my legal documents helped to make sure their real estate would avoid probate.
After the husband had passed away, it was discovered that one account with the financial advisor did not have any beneficiary on it. Not even his own wife. The wife was quite distraught over the loss of her husband, and the thought of having to go through the probate process was too overwhelming for her. I spoke with the financial advisor, and he did not see a problem with having to open up a probate matter. He did not empathize with the wife and just threw up his hands and said the deceased husband chose not to name a beneficiary. This is not typical behavior of the financial advisors who I work with. I was very disheartened by his lack of professionalism.
However, what I learned from this experience is that I should take responsibility for what I could have done. I should have asked permission to speak with the advisor as soon as their plan was complete. I should have reached out directly to explain our recommendations for updating beneficiary forms so that he would be alerted to the fact that a trust was now involved. I also encourage clients to look at their legal documents and beneficiary forms to make sure they are updated to what is currently going on with their lives. I learned a lot from that once experience and am thankful that I will be able to better serve my clients going forward as a result.
Please contact our office at email@example.com or at 508.532.8689 if you have questions about your beneficiary designation forms! We want to make sure nothing falls through the cracks when it comes to estate planning!
Copyright © 2023 Ladimer Law Office PC
209 West Central Street
Natick, MA 01760
Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.