Three common estate planning mistakes many people make
Comprehensive estate planning is crucial to protecting your loved ones.
Estate planning is not something that many people spend a lot of time thinking about. It is something that many struggle with, and leaves people reluctant to actually take the first steps toward getting a plan in place. Unfortunately, this is just one of the common mistakes that can leave families in a difficult position after a loved one becomes incapacitated or passes away. This article highlights some of the most common mistakes concerning estate planning in California.
Thinking you do not need an estate plan
Some individuals think that they do not have the assets they need to create an estate plan. They think that they are just starting out in life, and therefore they have nothing to protect. This is absolutely not true.
If you have a job, you probably have some retirement assets. If you own a home, you have assets that you need to be transferred out of your name after you pass away. If you have children, you need to make sure that you appoint a guardian for them. If you do not have a will or a trust, this property will pass according to the State of California laws on intestate succession, meaning it could go to unintended beneficiaries and have unintended consequences.
You also need to make sure that you have a valid durable power of attorney for financial matters and a n advance health care directive. These documents are critical to assist your loved ones in managing your assets and health care if you can not.
Not updating your current plan
Families change over time. You may get married, divorced, remarried or decide to have children. Some of the beneficiaries you list in your will or trust may pass away before you. If you experience any of these events, it is crucial that you revisit your current estate plan to make sure that it remains up-to-date.
If you do not make changes, it is possible that some of the people you want to receive assets may be excluded by the old documents. This can cause serious problems, and may result in challenges to the documents that you have in place. This could lead to your property being tied up in legal proceedings for a substantial amount of time after you pass away, which could place a significant strain upon your family. If your current plan documents do not provide for a durable power of attorney, it might be necessary to file an action for a conservatorship over your assets. This legal proceeding is very costly and time consuming and usually 100% avoidable.
Failing to speak to an experienced estate planning attorney
The rise of do-it-yourself forms on the Internet has led many individuals to complete estate plans using these services. These forms are very basic in nature, and the wills and trusts created by these documents often leave families in a difficult position when their loved one passes away. Some of these documents do not meet California law.
Each person’s estate plan will need to be tailored to their specific needs. These forms do not take these concerns into consideration. If you are considering creating an estate plan, you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to be sure that you have a comprehensive plan in place that is reflective of your final wishes.
Your attorney will be able to provide you with the detailed information you need as you move forward. You will receive answers for all of your questions, and you will be able to be sure that the plan you create will protect your assets and help your family when you pass away or become incapacitated .