Author: Steve Fine

#16 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Irrevocable

Failing to Consider Using an Irrevocable Trust Revocable living trusts are designed to avoid probate. They can also eliminate the need to have a guardian appointed if you become incapacitated. They do not, however, protect assets from creditors or shield them from the Medicaid spend down process. Irrevocable trusts, however, if properly drafted and funded, can do both. If either of those […]

#15 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Pets

Forgetting About Man’s Best Friend Your estate plan can include provisions for your pet. Sadly, many pets end up living out their lives in shelters after their owner’s death because no plan was in place. You can plan for your pet by designating someone who will have custody and providing them with financial support to pay for the pet’s food […]

#14 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Life Events

Not Updating Your Estate Plan to Reflect Life Events Estate planning is impacted by life events (divorce, marriage, death of family member, birth of family member, substantial change in health, diagnosis of serious illness, change in financial circumstances) and needs to be revised accordingly. After a life event, you need to review your estate plan, including your trust agreement, to […]

#13 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Plan Reviews

Not Conducting Periodic Reviews of Your Estate Plan Estate planning is not a static process. You cannot place your estate plan on a shelf and expect everything to work out. Estate plans require maintenance. Every 18- 24 months you need to review your estate plan’s legal documents and the beneficiary designations on your financial accounts […]

#12 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Designations

Failing to Update Beneficiary Designations Retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities all avoid probate with a designated beneficiary for each account. These beneficiary designations will override any contrary instructions in a will or trust. These accounts can represent a substantial portion of an estate and need to be coordinated with other aspects of your estate […]

#11 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Digital Assets

Neglecting Your Digital Assets Increasingly, people are living more and more of their lives in the virtual / digital / online world. However, many estate plans fail to include directions regarding these digital assets. Many bank accounts, social media and email accounts are assets with financial or sentimental value which can only be accessed online. […]

#10 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Not Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your Family Many people make the critical error of not discussing their estate planning, and why certain choices were made, with their family prior to their passing. Communication is especially important when your plan includes unequal asset distributions among your children. A failure to communicate often causes hurt feelings […]

#9 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Discussion

Not Discussing Your Estate Plan with Successor Trustee / Personal Representative You may wish to keep your estate plan confidential, but that is likely a mistake. A lack of communication is a frequent cause of estate plan failure. Living trusts and wills are written in technical legal language. Your successor trustee / personal representative may […]

#8 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Alternates

Failing to Name More Than One Successor Trustee / Personal Representative Estate planning is about “what if?” Your plan should include designated backups / alternatives for all of the key players, including successor trustee / personal representative. Estate plans fail because people make presumptions about the order of death and availability of people to take […]

#7 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Trustee/Representative

Naming the Wrong Successor Trustee / Personal Representative Your properly drafted and fully funded living trust may not achieve your goals if your successor trustee fails to follow (or understand) its provisions. Many people name one or more of their adult children as successor trustee without fully considering whether he or she is best suited […]