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Estate Planning Mistakes

estate planning mistakes

You feel ready to plan your estate, but you have a lot to learn to create a thorough strategy. For instance, what estate planning mistakes should you look out for? Estate planning helps you take care of your family members and loved ones after your death–your estate planning beneficiaries. Are you familiar with common estate planning mistakes that may jeopardize your efforts?

Our leading Albany estate planning lawyers offer tips for avoiding estate planning landmines. Learn from others’ slip-ups rather than make your own. 

Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

Not Keeping Your Estate Plan Current

Once you have an estate plan in place, look over it occasionally to ensure it meets your current desires. If you move away from New York, your plan must account for your new state’s estate planning laws. A marriage, birth, death, or divorce may necessitate a change. Understand how each state’s estate tax laws will affect your plan.

Not Having a Legitimate Estate Plan

Whatever plan you have for your estate, put your desires in a trust or simple will. Writing your desires on a piece of paper or relating them to a loved one does not keep state succession laws from deciding where your assets go if you die without creating legal estate documents.

Failing to Plan for Minor Heirs and Children

Estate planning for new parents is extremely important. If you have minor children, ensure that your estate plan accounts for their care should you or the other parent die or become incapacitated unexpectedly. Leave detailed instructions for how you want to spend the money you leave minor beneficiaries during your incapacity planning.

Those instructions go to the guardian, the person you want to care for and raise your children if you cannot. Regardless if you designate a close friend or relative as guardian, discuss your decision with the person to ensure that she or he accepts the role. 

Failing to Plan for Long-Term Care or Disability

As you age, you may become disabled or require long-term care in a nursing home. If either scenario happens, you could become buried under a tide of unexpected debt. Plan for incapacitation, disability, and long-term care while creating your estate plan as part of your executor checklist.

Not Accounting for Income Taxes

Speak with a financial professional about assets you wish to leave that may incur income taxes for your loved ones. For example, an inherited retirement account may have required minimum distributions, which may affect a beneficiary’s taxes. Consider shifting a standard IRA into a Roth IRA. 

Going About Asset Ownership the Wrong Way

Do you own properties jointly with your spouse? Joint real estate ownership offers transferring and creditor safeguards, making shifting asset ownership more efficient after a spouse’s death. If you own a business, consider appointing a business successor.

Meet an estate planning professional to determine the most favorable way to deed real estate property and sidestep gift tax liabilities. 

In the coming years, review your estate plan for costly mistakes. A lack of knowledge or preparation may cost you and your beneficiaries and heirs more than you realize. From time to time, consider an estate plan review.

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