Having an updated estate plan is fundamental to being a serious and caring human, but a surprising number of humans fail to make the time to plan.
Why you ask would someone invest so much time, energy and resources in their family and career but fail to take a few hours to protect their family and assets - especially when it can be a very easy process.
Maybe it's the perception that estate planning is expensive, time consuming and painful. Well, it can be, but it doesn't have to be. BTW we make it simple.
I can't tell you why so many people fail to have an updated living trust estate plan, but I can tell you that the consequence of not having an updated living trust estate plan can be disastrous.
The Estate of Chicago's Albert Beaver, Attorney and Inventor of Pizza Pot Pie
Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a story about the estate of Albert Beaver, Jr., the founder of Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., a beloved pizza pot pie restaurant in Lincoln Park, Chicago. In 1972, Beaver, a lawyer and jazz trumpeter, bought a burned out three story building across the street from where the infamous 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre took place. He restored the building, moved his law office into the second floor and started serving his unique upside down pizzas from the first floor. I don't know about his law practice, but his pizza pot pies became famous and his restaurant an institution, even profiled on the Food Network.
But then, in 2015, he died, and the nightmare began.
Beaver's daughter, Amy, tried to gather his estate planning documents and his business records, but they were gone. Beaver's longtime employee, Shabbir Chagpar, had taken Beaver's computer and files and claimed he was the rightful owner of the restaurant.
During the negotiations between Chagpar and Beaver's children, Chagpar died. But before he died, he assigned his rights to Beaver's estate to another restaurant employee, Catherine Gallanis. But wait, there's more. Enter Beaver's fourth wife, Barbara Beaver, who is also making a claim to Beaver's estate.
More than seven years after Beaver's death, lawsuits are grinding away in Illinois and Wisconsin to determine the rightful owner to the building and the restaurant. There is an old will that may or may not be valid and questionable documents from the 1980s showing Beaver assigned his interest to Chagpar, and not to his children. What a mess.
The 30 Year Old Will
Jim signed a simple will in 1993 leaving his estate to his wife and his child. Years later, after he and his wife have had three more children, they divorced. Fast forward to today, he is mentally incapacitated following a recent ski accident and stroke. He is scheduled be moved to hospice for his final days.
Because he is mentally incapacitated, he can't create a living trust estate plan to leave his estate to his four children. He will die with a $5 million estate and a 30 year old will. His children and ex-wife, and whoever else crawls out of the woodwork, will fight over his estate in probate for what could be many years, and the only winners will be the probate attorneys. He had 30 years to update his estate plan and didn't.
The nightmare that Beaver and Jim left their family could have been easily avoided if they spent a few hours to prepare a living trust estate plan.