Are Any of These Mistakes Lurking in Your Estate Plan?

By Melissa A. Register Posted in Core Estate Planning

Common estate planning mistakes can derail your overall wealth plan. Addressing these errors is essential to ensure your wealth is managed properly during your incapacity or after your death.  Here are some of the most frequent issues we come across in our practice.

Outdated estate plan. “I already signed estate planning documents…a long time ago.” Does it reflect your current circumstances, goals, and needs? A comprehensive review ensures that your estate plan reflects your current situation, desires, and needs.

Failure to consider financial predators. If your surviving spouse is victimized by financial predators – something increasingly common as the population ages – your family may discover too late that your legacy is gone. A well-crafted plan can ensure family money stays in and benefits the family.

Lack of attention to your children’s possible future divorces or lawsuits. It’s not nice to think about, but if your children divorce or are sued at some point in the future, their inheritance may be decimated and end up in the hands of those you never intended. A trust can help protect your legacy and your children’s inheritance.

IRA funds wasted. Retirement account beneficiaries could receive these account funds in a lump sum, creating the potential for an unexpected tax bill. A standalone retirement trust (sometimes called an IRA or conduit trust) can protect these funds while still providing for your beneficiaries.

Lack of Healthcare and Disability Planning. Most deaths occur in hospitals or other institutions. Patients may be incapacitated to the point where they can no longer communicate their healthcare wishes. Living Wills and Healthcare Powers of Attorney can identify healthcare proxy decision-makers, specify wishes for end-of-life care, and provide a formal plan to control financial and property matters.

HIPAA privacy lockout. If incapacity leaves you unable to communicate, family members may not be able to access your medical records because of HIPAA privacy rules. Executing a HIPAA authorization ensures access to medical information.

Family feuds over sentimental items. This problem can be avoided with a Personal Property Memorandum, which can account for tangible items like artwork, family heirlooms, and jewelry. In addition to the financial assets, your plan should include careful consideration of important family items.

Lack of attention to digital assets. Without a plan for digital assets and social media, you may lose critical documents, photos, memories, and family records.

Lack of attention to the conscious transfer of family values. Comprehensive estate planning can include family meetings, a family mission statement, and custom planning for children.

Chaotic record-keeping. Good planning is essential to make sure your heirs do not spend months or years trying to make sense of what you left behind. A comprehensive estate plan provides you with a framework for maintaining your vital legal and financial records.

If any of these mistakes feel familiar, please contact us to discuss!


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