It is important to plan for the ideal future, but to also have contingencies in place if (and when) the story deviates from the desired narrative. This is where estate planning comes in – it enables individuals and couples to plan for such eventualities as death as well as such potential issues as illness and incapacitation. While many assume that estate planning is for families with complex estates, it can be useful to nearly every family for avoiding potential legal issues, unnecessary expenses and other important matters.
It was about a year ago that we outlined three common estate planning mistakes. These were:
- Forgetting key elements
- Failing to update the estate plan regularly
- Keeping estate plans a secret
Other mistakes to avoid
There are other matters to consider when creating or updating an estate plan. These include:
- Not planning for disability: Unless someone has already cared for a disabled individual, disability is not an issue many will contemplate. It is important to do this because it can have a major impact on finances, the care for the family, or healthcare decisions made on your behalf. This can be handled through a living trust or appointing a power of attorney.
- Not gifting money: Gifting is a simple way to move up to $14,000 per spouse to others without the gift being taxed. Not only can this have a positive impact on their lives, but it can also reduce your tax obligation.
- Putting a child’s name on the deed: Gifts worth more than $14,000 are taxable, so it better to pass the home through inheritance.
- Choosing an executor who is wrong for the job: They may be a blood relation, but they may not be comfortable making financial decisions, handling paperwork or are unable to take the time to address the many obligations involved.
- Procrastinating: Estate planning is easy to put off until it is too late. This leaves families to deal with a lot of stress even as they go through the mourning process.
Start by meeting with an estate planning lawyer
Sitting down with a knowledgeable estate law attorney here in Florida is the beginning of a process that is both meaningful and liberating. An attorney with experience in this area can guide clients through the decision-making process and provide options that fit their goals. They can also offer a variety of services to the family as it goes through probate and addresses other matters. It all adds up to peace of mind for the client as well as their family.