#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 and misunderstandings resulting in a considerable amount of unneeded (and costly) litigation. Many of these problems, and the associated expenses, can be avoid by discussing your estate plan, and its goals, with your family. You are the best, and in many ways, only person to explain your estate planning choices to your family.

#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 on certain roles. By providing alternates, you give your plan additional strength and flexibility to continue to function if the unexpected happens. Image the picture above with roles switched, whose in the bed?

#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 to administer their
trust following their incapacity and after their passing. While it
may seem appropriate to name your oldest child as successor
trustee, you need to carefully consider whether he or she has
the knowledge, time and experience to properly administer
your trust. If you expect a disagreement within your family
about the trust’s administration, you may wish to consider
naming a third-party or professional successor trustee.

Many of the same concerns apply to your Personal
Representative. In addition to understanding the terms of your
will, your personal representative will need to understand the
probate process. Your personal representative also needs to
have the time to meet with attorneys and prepare and submit
required court filings on time. A poorly chosen personal
representative will increase the stress of the probate process,
as well as the time and expense to complete the process.

#6 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Attorney

Not Working with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Many people attempt to save money on estate planning
by getting a do-it-yourself trust agreement online.
Or selecting the attorney who offers the lowest price,
regardless of experience. A better value is to work with an
experienced estate planning attorney who will craft your
estate plan to meet your needs and goals. If your estate
planning documents are not properly drafted, they will
not achieve your objectives. Additionally, an experienced
estate planning attorney will be able to counsel you about
how you can benefit by including a living trust in your
estate plan.

#5 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Not Funding

Not Funding Your Living Trust
Living trusts must be funded to avoid probate and the
need for guardianship. “Funding” a living trust means
completing the process of retitling your assets from
your individual name to the name of your trust. Funding
includes both assets with titles (like real estate) and those
without titles (like household furniture). When the funding
process is not completed, one of the primary benefits
of a living trust, avoiding probate, will be lost since the
unfunded assets are subject to probate.

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#2 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – Will Only

Limiting Estate Planning Documents to a Will

For many people, estate planning begins and ends with
the signing of a will. A will is not an estate plan. A will can,
in suitable situations, be part of an estate plan. In addition
to a will, a complete estate plan should include, at least,
a power of attorney for finances, a power of attorney for
health care and an advanced directive. Wills are, however,
subject to probate. You may want to consider using a
revocable living trust to avoid probate and the need for
guardianship.

#1 of 25 Common Estate Planning Mistakes – No Plan

A properly designed and maintained estate plan can be a very positive legacy. The benefits and services provided by the Legacy Assurance Plan were designed to assist you with avoiding these
common mistakes.

The biggest estate planning mistake is failing to plan. The
result is that if you become incapacitated, your family
will need to petition the cour t for the appointment of a
guardian. When you pass away, your estate will be subject
to probate via your state’s intestacy laws. Intestacy laws
are state statutes that create a will for those who fail to
plan. The statute names one or more family members
as the heir(s) who receive your assets in the amounts /
percentages provided. They are very inflexible and are
unlikely to reflect how you want your estate distributed.
Planning is needed if you want to avoid guardianship,
avoid probate and give specific assets to specific people
or charities.