Common Estate Planning Mistakes: Part 2

estate planning mistakesHere are four more common estate planning mistakes you need to avoid. Feel free to share this information with anyone who may not have a plan in place or would benefit from checking over their current plan.

1. Not Having a Coordinated Estate Plan.

It can be difficult to coordinate multiple beneficiary designations and titles properly. Often times, when estate plans are not properly coordinated, things get clouded and one person can end up inheriting more or less than intended due to some technicality.

One easy way to coordinate all assets into one plan is to make a trust the owner and beneficiary of as many assets as possible with instructions in the trust document. This ensures that each beneficiary will receive the correct proportionate amount of the estate, regardless of the value of an individual asset. The trust can also include your instructions for what happens if a beneficiary is no longer living at the time, giving you as much control as possible.

2. Not Funding a Trust.

A trust can only control the funds that it contains. No matter how well written or clearly instructive a document is, it won’t control anything until the trust is funded.

3. Not Titling New Assets in the Trust’s Name.

It is not unusual for people to forget to add new assets to their trusts. If you are transferring assets or updating your plan, you should take the opportunity to take stock of anything you may have acquired after the last record of your assets. As stated above, a trust can only control the assets that are placed into it. New assets must be titled in the name of the trust so they can be part of your complete, coordinated plan.

4. Not Using a Qualified Attorney.

Estate planning is not something that should be left to a kit or online program. A simple mistake or omission can incur great consequences. We understand the complexities of the terms and legal requirements in California. Unfortunately, we have seen the results of proper and improper planning, and we urge you to hire an experienced attorney first. We can guide and assist you in making smart decisions about your estate, including guardian selection, how to provide for a child or elderly parent with special needs, and how to protect an inheritance from creditors and irresponsible spending.

If you need help with your estate planning, please contact our office. We can help you create the plan you desire or update an existing plan. Give us a call and we will be happy to help by answering any questions you may have.

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