Avoid These Costly Estate Planning Mistakes (Part 1)

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It’s a task no one really wants to sit down to, but estate planning is an extremely important undertaking that we all must take responsibility for, so that our family and loved ones know our intentions should we become incapacitated, or should we pass away.

Having a clear and specific estate plan (also known as last will and testament or simply “will”) in place guarantees that your wishes shall be honored in a variety of possible outcomes that may or may not come to fruition. During such a stressful times, clear direction about your wishes is a gift you will give your loved ones.

With that being said, there are some mistakes you can make when setting up your estate plan that are preventable.

  • Lack of planning – Having no plan whatsoever is the biggest mistake you can make. If you don’t have a will in place, set up an appointment with your NJ estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
  • Wearing blinders – Some people go into the estate planning process intending to plan for their loved ones after they pass on. Period. End of story. It’s important to look at all of the potential outcomes that your estate planner presents you with, so that your family will be prepared no matter what happens to you. (permanent disability, mental incapacity, etc)
  • Going it alone – There are people out there who feel they can handle writing up their own will. It’s true that not all cases will need the help of an attorney, but most people have difficulty looking at the big picture when it involves their own future demise. An experienced estate planning attorney in New Jersey is practiced and knows exactly what questions to ask you, and has all of the paperwork that covers any and all possible scenarios, like assigning Power of Attorney, and creating a Health Care Directive, should you become unable to make decisions on your own behalf.
  • Forgotten passwords – It often goes unnoticed that your spouse or closest family members may not have access to your online accounts when you pass away or become unable to make decisions. This can leave your beneficiaries unable to access some valuable accounts and benefits. Including a list of all of your online financial information, including the passwords, should be shared with your estate planner.
  • Non-documentation of jointly owned property – Your estate planning attorney will know the ins and outs of tax implications of jointly-held property, and how they apply to the death of one of the parties. A solid estate plan will help your family members from enduring a tax nightmare, and will help them avoid double taxation on the property.
  • Choosing the wrong executor – The executor of your estate must be able to collect all of your assets, pay off any of your debts, and then discharge any remaining funds to your heir(s). This is a very important responsibility, and one that requires a person who has no conflict of interest. It may seem simple to assign an executor, but an attorney can help you choose an unbiased third party.

These are only several of the very easy-to-make mistakes that can occur during the planning of your estate. If you’d like more information on how to set up your own estate plan with the help of a professional, contact George Veitengruber today.

To learn more about what mistakes to avoid during the estate planning process, stay tuned next week for Part 2.


8 Responses to Avoid These Costly Estate Planning Mistakes (Part 1)

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