Common Estate Planning Mistakes

A recent study in the United States discovered that far less than half of all Americans have a written estate plan. Sadder still is the fact that most of those written estate plans won’t accomplish what the client intended. There are three mistakes common to poorly written estate plans. If you already have or are now putting together an estate plan, please take steps to avoid the following pitfalls.

The first error, frequently made, is failing to focus on how the assets you leave will affect your heirs. Can you be sure you would approve of the way yours heirs will handle your inheritance? If you’re not, the time to prevent disasters from happening is now, while you are still alive. Once you’re gone, it’s too late.

Another mistake is failing to plan for your own incapacity. Where will you live if you become disabled? Who will take care of you? Who will pay the bills? Can you regain control of your estate should you be returned to full capacity? You can help prevent confusion by writing your instructions and appointing fiduciaries to implement those instructions at the appropriate time.

A third, very common mistake is assuming that all is well because you have a will or have everything owned jointly. In both cases, you are unwittingly giving control to a probate judge. A will guarantees probate. Joint ownership may avoid probate at the first death, but may unduly complicate the estate at the second death. For example, what about a remarriage where all of the assets go to your new spouse and then to his or her children, with none going to your biological children?

All of these problems are easily avoided with a properly crafted estate plan. Call Idaho Estate Planning at 208-939-7658 and let’s work together to design an estate plan that does exactly what you want.

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