Spoiler Alert: You may need to think again!
This is a true story. In 1993, Mr. Moore signed his Will and checked estate planning off of his to-do list. I can picture the smile on his face as he left his lawyer’s office, never to return. For a man who never married and had no children, Mr. Moore put in place his perfect plan – a Will that created a trust to care for his mother for life, if she survived him. At his mother’s death, if there was any property left the Will provided some small cash gifts for distant relatives and left everything else to two charities. It seemed like a good plan.
It was what he wanted. It was loving. It seemed clear to him. But Moore’s plan fell prey to the passage of time, a lack of attention, and the changes in his life. His was the perfect plan . . . if his mother had lived.
Mrs. Moore died in 2003. Mr. Moore lived nine more years, apparently unaware that there was a fatal flaw hidden in his plan. What was the flaw? His Will failed to give any instructions about what he wanted if he outlived his mother. He had nine years to review his plan, identify the problem, and express his wishes.
In 2012, Mr. Moore passed away. His executor filed his Will with a probate court in 2013. But this was no simple probate case. The executor had to ask the court to interpret the Will, asking for direction on what to do with nearly $1 million in property in the absence of any instructions in the document. Did the gift intended for his mother fail and his estate pass under state law? Or was the trust he tried to create for his mother still valid, even though she wasn’t alive to benefit?
Nearly six years later, the estate has spent more than $150,000 in legal fees and administrative expenses. An heir was discovered, who claimed the right to inherit since Moore’s mother failed to survive her son.
There is no end in sight. The case is now mired in the appellate courts, and the executor still does not have any direction from the courts on how to distribute the dwindling remains of his estate.
The fix would have been so easy. If Mr. Moore’s Will had simply said, “If my mother does not survive me, then I give my property to . . .”, all doubt would have been removed. But it didn’t.
Three Lessons from the Moore Estate:
- If your Will or Trust is more than five years old, make an appointment today to review your plan with an attorney who focuses on estate planning every day, like Joe Breshears. An estate planning attorney will ask all of the “what-if” questions that need to be answered to uncover and correct any gaps in your current plan.
- Make plans to review your plan with your attorney at least every other year. We know your plan will need to protect you and provide for your loved ones someday. The challenge in planning for the future is recognizing all the things that we cannot know. We don’t know when someday will come. We don’t know whether someday will involve disability or death. We can’t know how your loved ones will be doing when that time comes. I can’t begin to predict what the law will be someday. The only way to be sure your plan will work when you need it is to keep it current as you go.
- Beware lawyers who say “Sure, we do that, too.” You don’t want your primary care doctor operating on your heart. You don’t want an orthopedic surgeon diagnosing an infectious disease. In the same way, you should not want a lawyer that focuses on personal injury, criminal defense, or real estate drafting your estate plan.
Breshears Law exists to help people plan to govern the future according to their rules, not the government’s rules. We want to serve as your guide to avoid the inherent cost, delay, and uncertainty in the government’s plan for your estate. We empower our clients to make great, fully-informed decisions about their family’s future.Breshears Law firm is located in the Shops at Clearfork, Fort Worth, Texas
To schedule time to consult with Joe, simply:
- Call (817) 500-0155
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- Click here Book Time with Joe and you will be taken directly to Joe’s calendar. Select Initial Meeting or Vision Meeting and choose the time that works best for you.
We want to help. It begins by getting to know you and listening to your wants, needs, and goals. Schedule your estate planning consult today!