Four Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate Planning

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently published an informative article entitled Four Estate Planning Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them).  Although the article is geared toward CPAs for counseling their clients, I recommend it as reading for all, as I see these problems everyday.  The four mistakes featured are:

1. Outdated or Unsigned Estate Planning Documents (i.e., if they have a plan at all, most people‘s plans are either outdated or inadequate).
2. Lack of Coordination between the Estate Planning Documents, Titling of Assets and Apportionment of Estate Taxes.
3. Lack of Understanding That a Transfer of $1 Is a Gift (i.e., that transfers (typically of real property) for less than adequate consideration constitute a gift).
4. Life Is a Movie, Not a Snapshot (i.e., that estate planning should be viewed as a process rather than a one-time transaction).
The conclusion provides a good summary of the article:  “For most of us, the crystal ball of planning does not go more than five years. Families change, health changes, tax law changes and the law changes. The goal is to get the client on the path and to keep him or her there through all of the phases of life. Helping the client through each phase and encouraging the planning as part of the ongoing relationship between the CPA and the client is a very valuable service to the client and their family.”
Thanks to Jonathan Mintz of WealthCounsel, LLC for sharing the article and his comments.
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