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Reasons to avoid last minute estate planning

12/2/2014 | Kaplin Stewart Blog

When considering how to structure one’s final wishes, there are a number of valid reasons to take care of such matters long before the needs arises. That said, many in Pennsylvania will postpone the creation of an estate planning package far too long, under the assumption that there will always be time to address these matters. In reality, however, time is something that none of has has any control over, and the events that define our lives often play out without our active participation. When it comes to estate planning, waiting to the last minute can lead to a poor outcome for those left behind.

Consider, for example, an individual who is unexpectedly diagnosed with a terminal illness. Upon hearing such news, the normal course of one’s life will be immediately and forever altered. Attention will turn to making important medical decisions, as well as organizing end-of-life care. Most importantly, spending time with loved ones will become a top priority. For those who have to add estate planning to this list, an added level of stress will result.

As with all significant decisions, incorporating a high degree of stress and pressure is not the best way to create an estate plan that meets an individual’s goals. It is easy to become wrapped up in the moment and make choices that are not rational or fully thought out. In addition, going through medical procedures and taking various medications can also have an impact on one’s decision-making.

This leads to a final concern surrounding last-minute estate planning. When a plan has been thrown together at the last minute, after a Pennsylvania resident learns that his or her time is short, it becomes easy to challenge those decisions. If there are heirs who are likely to disagree with one’s final wishes or individuals who are left out of an inheritance, drafting a last minute estate plan opens the door to significant legal challenges. If there is any indication that there will be objections to one’s estate plan, creating the required documents before there is a serious medical condition will fortify one’s wishes against a legal attack.

Source:, “Last minute estate planning“, Eric Gullotta, Nov. 27, 2014