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Having an Estate Strategy is more than just a simple plan with some documents to support it…it is about fulfilling the wishes of the person creating it even after they have passed away. Unfortunately, most “estate plans” don’t always accomplish this like an Estate Strategy does…take the situation of Martha and her family.

Martha was a very successful individual and had been her entire adult life. She worked hard to provide for her two children during her working years so she could leave them something substantial when she was gone. Martha’s husband passed away several years ago and unfortunately didn’t have a will or estate plan in place. Martha wanted to make sure this didn’t happen to her and her kids when she was no longer around. It was her mission and she was very determined to make sure she left all that she could to her children for benefit of her children and their children.

Martha had one daughter, Amanda, who was happily married. She was pregnant with her first of three children when Martha first established her estate plan. She also had a son, Jonathan, who was a successful stock broker. Martha set up her initial plan with both of them sharing in her estate when she was gone.

In establishing her trust and estate plans, Martha had no cause for concern that the money she intended to leave her children would fall into the hands of a “predator”.

Seven years after Martha established her plan she passed away. Unfortunately, at the time of her passing, here daughter, Amanda, found herself embattled in a bitter and contentious divorce. It wasn’t a good situation for her and her soon to be ex-husband was being very difficult and wanted as much as he could get.

When Martha created her estate plan years ago, never in her wildest imagination did she think her daughter would be getting divorced. Because she didn’t plan for this contingency, Martha made no provisions to keep her hard-earned money out of the hands of Amanda’s ex-spouse should the two divorce. The “Predator” had arrived and was now in living color in the middle of their lives.

Amanda’s soon-to-be ex-husband was trying to stake a claim to some of her mother’s assets. Since there wasn’t any specific planning put in place to eliminate this issue from happening, Amanda will have to hire legal counsel to protect the monies. This could ultimately end up costing her everything her mother had intended to leave to her. A sad outcome and definitely not what Martha had ever wanted to happen.

Clearly this wasn’t the scenario Martha envisioned when she completed her estate and trust planning 7 years ago. But these are the exact types of circumstances that can be eliminated when someone puts together an Estate Strategy. The Strategy thinks through most of the situations that “could occur” and allows us to put together the proper plan and documents to effectively execute the wishes desired from the strategy.

Unfortunately, documents don’t just accomplish this and fix the problem. It’s how someone can construct the different scenarios in the Estate Strategy that allow legal documents to work the way they need to work. If Martha had put an Estate Strategy in place, this wouldn’t have been an issue as it would have been one of the possible scenarios that could have been handled.

Do you have an Estate Strategy in place? If not, it’s not too late. Start with understanding your Risks…determine your own Risk level by taking our complimentary Risk Assessment Profile. It’s easy…and it’s free. And it’s an excellent place to start the process.

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