At the end of the day, a key goal of any estate plan is to make sure that the client’s estate is distributed to the persons that they intended. Most of the time, those persons are their children and their grandchildren. However, in the absence of an irrevocable credit shelter trust that is established at the death of one spouse, the survivor would be able to amend the entire trust and, at their death, leave it to anyone. This includes leaving the estate to a new and sometimes significantly younger spouse!
Ever since the Terri Schiavo case, the public has become increasingly aware of the need for advance health care directives. In fact, it’s one of the first topics that many of my clients raise during our first meeting about drafting their estate plan. Most do not want to be placed on life support when they are in a persistent vegetative state and the advance health care directive is typically designed to prevent just that scenario. However, what good is the document if nobody knows that it exists?