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Consistency crucial across all estate planning documents

In previous blog posts, we have discussed the importance of regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan to reflect any changes in your wishes, family or financial situation. This ensures your plan is updated and reflective of current circumstances.

However, problems can arise if you update some documents and not others. When your plans are not consistent, then your loved ones can be left to fight over your estate and what they believe you truly wanted. Complications can also arise when outdated documents take legal precedent over other more current documents. This is the very situation facing Alan Thicke's children and widow.

According to reports, Thicke had in place a living trust he signed in 2016. Among other things, the trust specified that his three sons would own a family ranch equally, though his widow would be allowed to continue living there as long as she took over the expenses and mortgage payments. 

However, he also had in place a prenuptial agreement from 2005. In that agreement, Thicke lists the ranch as separate property and leaves just five acres of the 11-acre ranch to his wife.

This discrepancy has contributed to the failure of the parties to negotiate a resolution to the late actor's estate. There have been accusations that Thicke's widow is attempting to invalidate the prenup so that she can have rights to a larger portion of the estate; she in turn has accused Thicke's sons of sensationalizing and publicizing the painful, private situation.

The case will now be up to the courts to resolve, but it serves as a good reminder of why it is so critical to be consistent across all your estate planning documents

To avoid similar contentious battles, you would be wise to examine thoroughly all legal documentation relevant to your estate regularly. This includes trusts, wills, beneficiary designations and prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Doing so can help you identify and resolve inconsistencies before they create or exacerbate strained familial relationships.

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