Spring vacation season approaches and people are beginning to plan on how to overfill suitcases with swimsuits, sunglasses and beach accessories. As families make arrangements to fly somewhere distant together, dark thoughts sometimes cross the sunny landscape.

“What if the plane goes down with all of us aboard? Do I have a current Will? If so, does it reflect my current situation?”

It is always good to remember the time tested adage of “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”  Flying has become much safer in recent years. However, even as far-fetched as worrying about a crash may seem, it provides ample reason to draft a Will or update an existing one.  The very important subject of estate planning tends to fade into the background around vacation time in favor of more immediate concerns involving being away from work and family life.

There are some very basic estate planning elements to keep in mind that may help reduce unnecessary anxiety during much deserved time for relaxation.

The first thing is to take the opportunity to determine where the original Will is kept and identify who knows where to find it when needed.  

Consider updating certain aspects to the Will.  Be sure the Will reflects the newest estate laws and is capable of taking full advantage of current estate tax exemptions. Evaluate whether the personal representatives, trustees and guardians for children are still trusted individuals for those roles. As parents gain a better sense of how their children handle responsibilities, many consider updating the ages at which minor beneficiaries have complete access to inherited assets as they mature into adults.

It is important to name any relatives or charitable organizations as back-up beneficiaries of the estate. Tragedies are often sad reminders of lapses in effective planning. Many families travel with their entire family. Individuals should consider what they would like to see happen to their assets should an accident claim the lives of an entire family and there are no immediate relatives left to inherit the assets.  

Although the laws of intestacy provide a hierarchy of beneficiaries for people who die without a Will, or who are not survived by any named beneficiaries under a Will, the persons who will end up with assets under intestacy are chosen by the Maryland Orphans’ Court.  Instead of having one’s assets decided by a probate court, discuss creating or updating an estate plan with a lawyer. 

Accidents are unpredictable and tragedies occur everyday, whether on vacation or not. Effective planning can minimize the damages.  Hindsight is not necessarily 20/20 in the case of estate planning because there is no ability to rewind and create a Last Will and Testament after the unimaginable occurs.  “Now” is always the best time to put together an effective estate plan.

The estate planning attorneys of Bowie-Jensen, LLC are accustomed to getting it done before the boarding call.  For more information about creating a Will or estate plan please contact Jay Merwin at Bowie-Jensen, LLC.