This past week, I got a call from a friend. She was getting ready to leave on a vacation the next morning and wanted to talk about the beneficiaries on her life insurance.
I get these sorts of phone calls a couple of times a year. I'm not sure why, but people always seem to start thinking about their estate plans when they are preparing for a vacation.
As my friend and I discussed her beneficiary designation, I learned she had a primary beneficiary named on her life insurance policy, but not a secondary or contingent beneficiary. I told her she should be OK for now and that she should go on her trip and we would take care of this when she got back.
She asked me what would happen if the plane crashed. I told her that wasn't going to happen, but if it did, I would make sure her named beneficiary received the insurance benefits. After a moment of silence, my friend asked me how I was going to do that since her beneficiary was going to be sitting next to her on the plane. Ohhhhh ... now I understand the need to deal with this immediately.
After we hung up, I called the insurance company and obtained a change of beneficiary form. I got a verbal OK from the company they would take a scanned copy of the change of beneficiary form pending receipt of the original. I completed the form and called her to tell her it was OK to stop by and sign it.
That's when she asked me if it would be tough to prepare a trust for her before she left. Let's see; 2:30 in the afternoon and her flight leaves at 8:30 the next morning? Probably going to be a little tough.
What I want you to understand is that it's alright to think about estate planning before leaving on a trip. However, your attorney is going to need a little more than 18 hours to complete the plan. Eighteen days maybe; 18 hours? Not a chance.
Attorneys realize their clients have time constraints and most of them will try their best to be accommodating. It's OK to ask your attorney to have the documents prepared by a certain date.
However, the date should be reasonable. Don't expect your attorney to drop everything he or she is doing to get your estate plan done. Other clients have time constraints also and rushing can lead to mistakes.
So if you are thinking about taking a trip and want to address your estate planning needs, please call your attorney. Just not the day before.