My first exposure to estate planning was after the birth of my oldest child.
We went to see a well-respected estate planner in town who asked us a few questions, sent us on our way, and called us back a few weeks later to hand us our completed estate planning documents. He didn’t really explain what he was doing or why, and didn’t say anything to us about the need to review these documents over time to make sure they still made sense for us. We paid him several thousand dollars, took our documents home, stuck them on a shelf, mentally checked “estate planning” off our list, and we never gave our plan a second thought.
Years later, when I decided to make the shift from a litigation practice to estate planning, I pulled my estate plan out and took a look at it with more knowledgeable eyes. I was shocked to realize my plan would not have kept my kids from a public and painful transition involving the probate court. In addition, my plan was will based, which meant that there was nothing in place to protect my kids or my assets if I became incapacitated. In retrospect, this plan would not have functioned at all in the way I would have wanted it to.