Common estate planning mistakes

You met with an attorney and made an estate plan years ago, so you have the peace of mind that your assets are protected and your loved ones will be provided for according to your wishes if anything should happen to you. However, if you have made one of these common mistakes with your estate plan, you might not be as prepared for the future as you think you are.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes That Can Undermine Your Wishes

In our experience working with clients in Ohio, we find that people typically make the following mistakes:

  1. Thinking a will is enough. A simple Last Will and Testament—especially one you got for little or no cost—does not provide many protections to your estate or your family after you are gone. Your family will still have to deal with probate court, your estate will be public, your bank accounts will be frozen until probate is complete, and your family will have to abide by the court's timeline to get their inheritance.
  2. Not having a comprehensive estate plan. An effective estate plan consists of a set of essential documents including powers of attorney, a HIPAA release, a will, a document appointing a funeral representative, and possibly trusts to hold assets. If you don't have all of these in place, your plan is incomplete.
  3. Not updating your estate plan. Even if you have all of the documents mentioned above, you will still have to revisit them periodically to update important information. Beneficiaries may have died, you may have divorced and remarried, minor children may have come of age, and you may have significantly more property or assets to protect. All of these changes need to be accounted for in your estate plan.
  4. Designating co-executors. You might think you are being fair and even-handed by appointing your two children as co-executors of your estate, but we have seen more conflict and delays caused by this setup than almost anything else. We recommend having a discussion with potential executors and choosing one as the primary and one or two more people as back-ups rather than co-executors.
  5. Failing to fund trusts. A trust is a tool for holding assets in a beneficiary's name so that he or she will get the money or property according to your instructions. These assets avoid probate and can also avoid taxation. However, if you don't actually place the assets into the trust before you die, it is worthless. This is a common mistake people make.

Trust Littlejohn Law, LLC to Assess and Correct Your Estate Plan

Just like a car, an estate plan needs regular care and maintenance. If it's been a while since you reviewed your estate plan, now is as good a time as any to schedule an appointment with Ed and his team to go over your plan. Whether we helped you draft your original plan or not, we are here to help you make sure you have avoided the deadly mistakes that place an undue burden on loved ones after your passing. Fill out the contact form on this page to get in touch with us today.


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