Dear Stefanie:
       Can you give a practical example of an estate going to the wrong people? I have heard stories about this, but wonder how can that happen when you have a trust?

– Baffled on Baldwin

Dear Baffled:
       It is frustrating for me to see a large portion of a person’s life savings possibly go to unintended beneficiaries. I have a case brought to me by the brother of a woman who recently died. Let’s call her Anne.
       I had never met Anne before she passed. Anne had a revocable trust, but it hadn’t been reviewed in years and the attorney’s work was less than stellar.
       Anne had no kids. She named her many siblings as beneficiaries. However, one sister’s name was omitted from the trust, even though she had a close relationship with her. Was it intended or an oversight?
To make matters worse, the trust drafting was poor. It said if a sibling died before her (all but two had), the share would be divided amongst that sibling’s “family.” This language is too imprecise. What does “family” mean – children? Grandchildren? Spouse?
       Now we might need to leave out the omitted sister AND give funds to more remote family members than she may have intended. Get your documents reviewed!

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