If you are like most people, you probably skimmed over your estate planning documents when they were prepared, signed them, and then put them in a file, safe, or drawer somewhere and forgot about them. It might be a good idea to take them out and re-read them.
People often simply rely on the individual who prepared their estate planning documents to prepare them correctly. People are human though and errors can occur. Even a simple typographical error can wreak havoc with your estate plan when it comes time to probate your estate. Imagine, for example, that you intended to bequeath $10,000 to your nephew John, but the relevant estate planning document says that you bequeath $100,000 to John. If you missed this error the first time around, you can easily see how this will change things when your estate is probated. Another commonly missed mistake is blank areas in an estate planning document. Sometimes, the preparer left something blank with the expectation that you would fill in the missing information. If you never really read through the document though, it could be a serious problem. Imagine if that bequest to John left out his name because the preparer did not have John’s full name. You then have an estate planning document that leaves $10,000 to someone, but the probate court doesn’t know to whom.
Dig out those estate planning documents and spend a few hours going over them with a fine toothed comb to make sure that they are accurate, complete, and express your wishes and desires.