The Dirty Dozen – 12 Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate Planning

As Halloween approaches, here’s another reason to be scared – failure to do proper estate planning.  Make sure you have not committed any of these common mistakes that I see all too often:

1. No trust provisions for minor children as beneficiaries of a will.

2. Not updating your plan when you move to another state.

3. Having a will, but neglecting the other important documents (durable power of attorney, health care care power of attorney, living will and HIPAA authorization).

4. Expecting that jointly owned bank accounts or other property will pass under the terms of your will.

5. Expecting that life insurance and retirement accounts will pass under the terms of your will (the beneficiary designation controls).

6. Not naming successor fiduciaries (executor, agent under powers of attorney, etc.)

7. Failure to update beneficiary designations for life insurance and retirement after divorce, death of a beneficiary, etc.

8. Not informing your family/executor were you have stored your original estate planning documents.

9. Not reviewing and updating your plan every few years to take into account changes in your situation and applicable laws.

10. Having a living trust, but failing to transfer your bank and brokerage accounts, certain real estate, etc. to the trust to obtain the advantages of avoiding probate.

11. Writing or marking on the original documents in an attempt to change a name or other information.

12. Not having an estate planning attorney help you complete your plan – isn’t your family and your property important enough to spend the money to have your plan done correctly?

The really frightening thing is that these mistakes only apply to those who have attempted to do some estate planning;  most people have made the ultimate mistake of not planning at all.

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