Don’t let creativity in your estate plan create problems

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2020 | Will and Trust Contests

Your estate plan is a valuable tool that should align with your beliefs and reflect your wishes. And as such, a person should be able to design their plan accordingly.

However, utilizing creative solutions and taking non-traditional approaches to these matters could ultimately cause more problems if you are not careful.

Understanding the case for tradition

People pursue traditional estate planning solutions for several reasons. Some people want the reassurance of a plan that will be effective and free from challenges. Some do not have unconventional wishes they wish to address. Other people feel that a traditional process will be the easiest. A traditional plan can certainly be a good fit for people in these situations.

That said, there are numerous reasons why someone would want to get creative with their estate plan.

When creativity counts

A person may pursue non-traditional planning solutions if they have unusual assets to protect, complicated beneficiary relationships or specific wishes that do not necessarily align with traditional legal solutions.

Under these circumstances, a person can pursue creative measures that allow them to design an estate plan that is right for them.

Tips for balancing creativity with enforceability

If you are too unconventional or inventive with your estate plan, you could wind up making it unenforceable.

For instance, when it comes to creating a will in California, taking the traditional written approach will be best. Anything else, including a video recording, could be subject to challenge in court and ultimately set aside.

There are also people who get things like “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoos instead of having an advance care directive. Creative as this may be, it is not the same as a legal document. There is no guarantee someone will see it before administering medical attention, and someone could rightfully question when they got the tattoo and whether it truly reflects their wishes.

Finally, leaving overly imaginative or unorthodox wishes can make it impossible or uncomfortable for others to fulfill them. This could happen if you put too many conditions on trust payments or request that your remains be launched into space, for instance.

There is nothing wrong with being creative with an estate plan. However, it is crucial to do so within the legal boundaries and in a way that does not create unnecessary conflict.