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Charting Futures For More Than 30 Years

How creative can I be when estate planning?

To make your estate plan look the way you want it to look, you may want to get a little creative. Perhaps you plan to add conditions to trust payouts or take a non-traditional approach to how you express your end-of-life wishes.

However, before you do any of this, it is crucial to consider the benefits and drawbacks of creativity in estate planning.

Benefits of tailoring your plan

Every person’s estate and wishes look different; what works for one person may not work for another. Thus, tailoring your estate plan to your needs can be quite valuable. You need not confine yourself to a template or cookie-cutter approach to areas like property division or end-of-life care.

Those who are creative with their planning can accomplish various tasks like:

    • Creating a trust to fulfill specific objectives
    • Motivating heirs to use their trust funds responsibly
    • Addressing the needs of non-traditional family
    • Honoring loved ones with donations or foundations
    • Taking advantage of tax incentives
    • Making it easier for beneficiaries to receive property

Getting creative with your planning strategies can allow you to control your future and your legacy.

When creativity goes too far

It is crucial to understand that creativity can cause more problems than it solves, particularly if the solutions are confusing or unenforceable.

For instance, you might have non-traditional wishes for your funeral or what you want to happen to your remains when you are gone. To some extent, this could be appropriate, but if it becomes too complicated or tedious, your loved ones may not be able to fulfill your wishes.

Similarly, if you get too creative with elements like conditions of a trust payout or property distribution, beneficiaries could contest your will or trust to have it set aside.

It is also important to note that including any illegal clauses can make estate planning documents unenforceable per state laws. Unlawful clauses could be anything from requesting that your beneficiary break the law to clauses that other states do not enforce.

Careful creativity

While individuals can – and often should – get creative with their estate plans to ensure they are accurate reflections of their wishes, it is crucial to do so carefully.

To avoid crossing the line from unconventional to unenforceable, individuals can find it helpful to work with an attorney experienced in this area.