Jeff Fouts: “Jeff Fouts, estate planning attorney here. You’ve heard me say that 65 percent of all people in America die without any estate plan whatsoever, and that’s a very alarming figure, but then you can maybe say to yourself, ‘Well, Jeff, that means that 35 percent of the people do have an estate plan – a will or a trust.’
That is correct, and you may say, ‘Well, Jeff, I’m one of those people that do have an estate plan, so I’ve got everything I need in place.’ Here is something that’s very serious.
You may have an estate plan, but be very careful that it doesn’t give you a false sense of security, because estate plans normally fall into basically two different categories.
There’s the category over here may be very simplistic. Don’t misunderstand, I like simple. We do simple estate plans as a firm, we do. We like simple, if we can do it, but there is an issue with simple that you need to go into with your eyes open. That is, simple has no protection whatsoever, usually. None.
That takes us to these estate plans that are over on this side maybe, because estate plans really only fall into two major groups, simple or overly complex, that’s it.
These that are over here, maybe they were done back when the estate tax was raging, and maybe there’s an A-B trust, a credit shelter trust, a bypass trust, a family trust, a marital trust, etc.
What happens with these plans over here, the ones that are more complicated, is that these will inadvertently have a dire effects on the surviving spouse when the first spouse dies. The surviving spouse may very well find out that their ability to access money, have full control and things like that, is limited.
It comes as a shock to people. They don’t really expect that, because everybody thinks that their estate plan is going to do whatever it is their estate plan is going to do.
In all candor, it really doesn’t matter whether your estate plan has a burgundy binder or if it’s blue, leatherette, black, or whatever it is. Where it has a slip cover, whether you’ve got it at the Cobb Galleria near Marietta or Smyrna, or whether you’ve got it at Alpharetta, near Roswell. It really doesn’t matter. All estate plans fall in those two main groups, simple or overly complicated – chocolate or vanilla.
What most people find out once they talk with us is that there’s other flavors of ice cream other than just chocolate or vanilla. There’s 31 flavors of ice cream as someone famously said.
What most of my clients end up doing, once they find out there’s lots of flavors beyond chocolate and vanilla, is they end up picking something else right here in the middle, maybe some strawberry, maybe some vanilla with peaches in it, or pecans or something.”