6 Estate Planning Horror Stories For Halloween

We’re nearing the end of October, and that means spooky season is in full swing! Scary movies are out in theaters, haunted houses are giving tours, and every neighborhood seems to have its own 12-foot skeleton hanging around. But if you really want to give yourself a fright, read on because the Palmer & Slay team has pulled together a list of six estate planning horror stories that are sure to send a shiver down your spine.

Funeral & Burial Information Discovered Too Late 

Some families only discover the funeral and burial instructions their loved one left them when it is too late. People are often buried in the wrong cemetery, buried instead of cremated, buried in the wrong clothes, or denied the type of funeral they wanted because they included their last requests in their will instead of sharing their preferences with their family members while they were still alive. 

On more than one occasion, our clients have said they are afraid their loved one would come back to haunt them because they were not buried where they wished. At Palmer & Slay we always advise clients to make their funeral and burial wishes known instead of including them in a will. 

Zombie Property 

If no one knows for sure what assets you have when you die, you may end up with a bunch of zombie property. These assets outlive their owner and end up causing trouble for heirs who have to chase them down and kill them off. 

To head off this problem, consider consolidating financial accounts and using as few institutions and advisors as possible. Make a list of real estate and other large assets you own. And periodically check the unclaimed property divisions of states where you have lived for stock dividends or forgotten bank account balances. If you find any, file a claim to obtain the property.

Evil Executors 

An estate executor or estate administrator is someone nominated in your estate planning documents or appointed by the court to manage your affairs after you are gone. This person has a legal responsibility to follow your wishes and make good decisions on behalf of your estate and your loved ones who will benefit from it, but that does not prevent executors from running wild. 

Some executors go drunk with power or mad with grief. We have seen cases where administrators cleaned out bank accounts, gifted cars or real estate to themselves, and lied through their teeth to the deceased person’s heirs about what was happening. 

Palmer & Slay drafts estate plans with safeguards in place to prevent estate administrators from running amok. We have also assisted families who want to excommunicate executors who are not following their loved ones’ wishes. 

Missing Documents 

There’s nothing inherently sinister about a misplaced document, but when you can’t find any estate planning documents for a loved one you know had a plan in place, you start to wonder if something fishy is happening. 

Family members quickly turn against one another when estate planning documents go missing and everyone assumes that someone knew what was in them and didn’t like it. We always advise our clients to keep their estate planning documents in a secure but accessible location, and to communicate information about how to access them with trusted family members or friends. 

No Directions Regarding Sentimental Personal Property 

Nothing causes family members to turn against one another faster than an estate plan that fails to stay who should inherit important family heirlooms everyone wants to get their hands on. It is best to come right out and say who gets the candlestick in the library instead of leaving your family to play a game of Clue. Palmer & Slay can help you draft a list of sentimental personal property you hope will end up in the hands of specific loved ones. 

Letting Uncle Sam Decide Who Will Inherit Your Estate 

We can think of few things more scary than the government swooping in, laying claim to all of your assets, then doling them out to only the people it sees fit. But that is exactly what happens under Mississippi law if you die without an estate plan in place. No matter the size of your estate, there is too much at stake to let Uncle Sam dictate your last requests. 

Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones. 

There’s nothing scary about working with the Brandon, Mississippi-based attorneys at Palmer & Slay PLLC to craft an estate plan that reflects your wishes and fits your family’s needs. Our experienced team of estate planning professionals can craft a will and other documents that will protect your family from these and other estate planning horror stories. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting.