Common mistakes in estate planning, P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at a recent article discussing common mistakes in estate planning. As we noted, among the most common are: selecting an improper trustee, executor, or guardian; improper beneficiary selection; poor distribution of personal property; and failing to elect powers of attorney.

As the author of the article notes, at the heart of each of these mistakes is failure to plan and failure to review one's plan before finalizing it.

Failure to plan properly can take many forms. One common form is to simply fail to have basic estate planning documents in place. In fact, as many as 50 percent of Americans don't even have a will. This is surprising, as wills are easy to set up and can allow you to avoid a number of problems later on.

Procrastination is one major reason for failing to plan. Doing do puts you at risk for a number not being able to pass your assets in the way you would want, causing family stress and relationship problem, and setting up your estate for lawsuits down the road.

The other aspect of failing to plan is failing to review your plan. And that includes wills and trusts which that may already be in place. It is important to review these when updating your estate plan, as the passage of time can change many circumstances on which a will is based. Failure to do so could create unnecessary complications down the road.

Working with a qualified attorney is the first step most people take in setting up an airtight estate plan. An experienced attorney will be able to give you this kind of advice and ensure you are on the right track. The larger and more complicated the estate, the more important this is. Keep these things in mind as you think about your own estate plan.

Source: Online Athens, "Hewitt: Avoid common estate planning mistakes," Webster Hewitt, November 13, 2011.

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