Five Estate Planning Errors to Avoid

Experienced estate planning lawyers help people navigate a number of complex issues including those involving time and money. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer can help you avoid substantial estate planning errors that will set you and your beneficiaries back in time and money.

The following are just a few of the more common pitfalls that you should avoid when planning your estate.

Failure to Name a Beneficiary

Designating a person as a beneficiary is one of the best ways to avoid probate and ensure that an asset is directly paid to a specific person. Many states, including California, permit people to name beneficiaries on documents like life insurance policies or retirement accounts as well as bank accounts.

Failure to appoint a beneficiary for each type of estate planning document can lead to a number of challenges following a person’s death.

Drafting Your Own Will

Many people attempt to save on the costs of hiring an estate planning lawyer by drafting their own wills. These individuals often rely on documents they find on the internet to create estate planning documents.

When it comes time to probate a will following a person’s death, DIY wills can sometimes end up costing an estate much more than if a person had paid for an estate planning lawyer at the outset. In some cases, DIY wills are declared invalid, which means that a person’s wishes are not carried out at all.

Adding Joint Owners to Bank Accounts Without Fully Considering the Possibilities

Adding a child’s name to your bank account is one method of letting a child have quick and ready access to the account. In many cases involving small accountos, this arrangement can work. It is important to understand, however, that a child will be viewed as the owner of any account on which his or her name appears, which can lead to adverse results.  

If a person’s will does not clearly state how this account should be handled, this can also create a number of complications.

Not Adequately Funding a Trust

If a person has a trust, it is important to remember to fund it. When a trust is properly funded, assets in the trust will avoid the probate process. If a person’s trust is not adequately funded at the time of death, these assets will then go through the probate process, which can mean undue taxes.

Selecting the Wrong Co-Fiduciaries

It is critical for every parent who engages in estate planning to realize that their children have strengths and weaknesses. If children are not able to work together, it is a bad idea to make them mutually responsible for making financial or health care decisions for you.

Instead, it is a wise idea for you and your family to select one person or two individuals, provided they work well together, to make decisions in case something happens to you.

Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

Attorney Melanie Tavare has helped many people navigate the estate planning process. She understands the unique challenges that arises with each estate and will make sure that your estate plan takes all of these obstacles into consideration.

Contact attorney Tavare to schedule a free case evaluation.