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Estate planning mistakes to avoid

From time to time, we run across interesting pieces discussing what to do and what not to do in regard to estate planning. Generally speaking, these articles give fairly good advice.

We recently saw an article on a Philadelphia news source discussing mistakes to avoid during estate planning. We’ll take a quick look at the list here.

The first point the article made was to avoid selecting the wrong executor. That may be obvious, but what are the implications. For one, the executor will have access to the assets of your estate, as well as other matters. The most important thing is to select somebody you absolutely trust and who either has experience or the astuteness to hire somebody to help them manage administration of the estate.

The second piece of advice is similar: do not select the wrong trustee. Trustees continue to play an active role in trust assets for the term of the trust. Depending on the type of trust you set up, that could be years. The key here is similar-pick somebody you absolutely trust. Courts may remove a trustee in certain circumstances, but the most important thing is to select wisely on the front end.

If you are divorced, don’t forget to change your will to reflect that fact. While in Georgia, a divorce decree automatically voids your will, it is good to be proactive in your estate planning. Irrevocable trusts, however, cannot be altered and must address divorce from the start. An experienced estate planning attorney will know this.

Don’t forget to plan for your non-probate assets, which include any assets that will not pass under your will and which are only in your name. This especially means updating beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. .

Finally-and this point may not apply to everybody-don’t forget to plan for your pets or other beloved animals. Estate planning can include setting up a pet trust. For many this will be irrelevant, but for some it is critical. Ask your estate planning attorney to walk you through the process.

Source: Associated Press, “Funeral planning can save money, heartache,” Tom Murphy, December 7, 2011.