Everybody's estate plan is a different, to one degree or another. Many people have specific, unique or peculiar goals they'd like to accomplish through the legacy they leave behind. By obtaining a detailed and comprehensive estate plan, you can take full advantage of the law's opportunity allowing to control your legacy and make sure that all of your planning objectives, both great and small, ordinary and unusual, are achieved.
We all have our quirks — those little peculiarities that make each of us unique. Our quirks can play a role in many things that we do, including, sometimes, how we go about planning our estates. Some of us may have rather ordinary estate planning goals, such as splitting assets between one's immediate family and/or closest friends. Other people have goals that are more… unique.
The man who invented the Pringles potato chip can left instructions that, as part of his final arrangements, he should be cremated and part of his ashes should be buried… inside a Pringles can. An aristocrat from Portugal who died in 2007 had an unusual plan, not for his final arrangements, but for the distribution of his assets. He had no spouse and no children but lots of wealth. The aristocrat underwent the proper procedural steps such that, when he died, his wealth went to… 70 strangers whose names he selected from a telephone book.
A wealthy 19th Century man from Ohio decided to leave much of his estate for the benefits of animals. Specifically, according to a 2013 report in the Naples, Florida, newspaper, his plan called for his wealth to be put toward the creation of a house for cats that was "complete with dormitories, an infirmary, a rectory, rat holes, roofs for climbing and areas for 'conversation.'" There was even an auditorium where the cats could listen to live accordion music. Famed 1960s signer Janis Joplin had a much less elaborate but decidedly unusual estate planning goal: her plan set aside the sum of $2,500 for a rousing funeral party - a "final gesture of appreciation and farewell."
Chances are, your estate planning goals aren't as exotic as a resort home for felines or leaving your wealth to strangers you've chosen at random. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible that your planning goals do include some highly personalized elements. Maybe you have some very particular asset distributions you want to make to specific beneficiaries. Perhaps you want your family to have the bulk of your wealth, but you want your mail carrier to have your collection of "joy buzzers" because you know he's a huge aficionado of novelty toys.
Alternately, maybe you have specific and detailed desires for your final arrangements. Some people just want to express their wishes for where they will be buried and/or who will deliver the eulogy. Other people desire to script almost everything from eulogies to pall bearers to music to… nearly everything associated with their funeral and final arrangements.
Whatever your specific or unusual goals are, your comprehensive and detailed estate plan is the way to make sure those objectives are carried out. With a detailed will or will and revocable living trust, you can take control of your legacy and ensure that, even if you have very unusual estate planning goals you want to accomplish, those goals can be realized.
Your plan helps you in two ways: it expresses your intentions and helps prevent your loved ones being left "in the dark." Sometimes, the loved ones you leave behind may fail to do exactly what you want, not because they reject your wishes, but because they don't know exactly what your preferences are. With your plan, you can save them the stress that often comes with uncertainty. Your passing will be difficult for them. It will be even more so if they have to guess what your estate planning preferences were.
Your plan also avoids the perils of intestacy. If you leave no plan, then the law will simply look for your closest legal relatives (meaning, typically, a spouse and/or children) and divide everything you own amongst them. If your desires deviate from that cookie-cutter type approach in any way, then you need a plan. Your plan can ensure that you not only provide for your spouse and/or kids, but that all of your goals relative to all of your assets can be realized, even if those objectives are unique or unusual.