6 End of Year Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

If you finally wrote your estate plan in 2019, you likely know just how difficult it can be to sit down and write an estate plan. Even after creating these documents, there are still several  obstacles that can occur and prevent you from achieving your estate planning goals. As a result, this article takes a brief look at some of the estate planning mistakes that you should be careful to avoid as the year comes to an end.


# 1 – Not Understanding Your Estate Plan


Some people don’t both to read and review the terms of estate planning documents after they’ve been created by an attorney. Other people let their spouses take care of estate planning and merely sign where is necessary. Not knowing the terms of what you are signing can lead to many serious estate planning challenges. While you need not be able to call up estate planning laws by code number, you should still understand the basics of how your estate plan will work.


# 2 – Not Updating Beneficiary Plans


The terms of a will determine who will receive what and when. While wills control how most assets are transferred, other types of assets like retirement accounts and life insurance policies transfer according to the terms of beneficiary designations. It is not enough to have wills in place, you must also make sure that your beneficiary designations are appropriate and what you intend.


# 3 – Failing to Adequately Fund Trusts


There are many reasons why people choose to create trusts including that trusts often need not pass probate, which saves costs and time. Trusts must be properly funded with assets, though. If you do not place the proper asset in a trust, it will be unable to achieve your goals.


# 4 – Assets Are Not Properly Titled


How assets are titled can play a substantial role in deciding the outcome of your estate. If you own property as a joint tenant, assets will pass to the other property owner following your death. Once, making sure that assets are properly titled, you should then continuously review them. Major changes in your situation or new regulations could have a substantial effect on an existing title.


# 5 – Not Reviewing Your Plan


Estate plans are best thought of as “living documents”, which means that you should be prepared to review these documents after major life events like births and divorces. Also, rather than let your estate planning documents sit somewhere that you never touch them, you should review these documents on a routine basis to avoid any errors.


# 6 – Not Coordinator Estate Planning Documents


 There are several parts in estate plans including trusts, wills, healthcare power of attorney, and life insurance policies. You should not treat each of these documents as they exist individually but instead should utilize estate planning documents together to achieve your goals.


Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

One of the best ways to avoid making mistakes that jeopardize the outcome of your estate plan is to speak with an estate planning attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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