Once you have an estate plan, it’s important that you do not do anything to inadvertently overrule that plan. If you have taken the time to make a careful estate plan, you need to make sure that you do not sign any documents later that detract from that plan. People often get into trouble with this by signing something given to them by a financial institution.
In a typical scenario, an elderly person will put a child’s name on bank accounts as a way of allowing that child to handle the day to day finances for the parent. Whenever you make changes to your bank account, the bank hands you long legal documents to sign, which very few people actually read. By default what happens in that case is that the parent has just made that bank account automatically go to the child when the parent passes away. This creates a problem if you have more than one child and they were all supposed to receive an equal inheritance.
Before signing any financial documents make sure that they do not conflict with the goals in your estate plan. A better way to handle the above example would have been for the parent to get a General Durable Power of Attorney instead of a joint bank account. Talk to your estate planning attorney about how to avoid overruling your own estate plan.
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