#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 and veterinary care. In many states, your plan can include a separate “pet trust” to provide financial support for your pet after your incapacity or death. Planning for a pet is especially important if you have an exotic or unusual pet.

#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.

#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.

#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.