25 Estate Planning Mistakes
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25 Estate Planning Mistakes

A correctly written and well-maintained estate plan can be a hugely positive legacy. The benefits and services provided by Ogborne Law were designed to help you with avoiding these common estate planning mistakes.

1. Not Creating an Estate Plan

One of the biggest mistakes in estate planning is not planning. The outcome is that if you become incapacitated, your family will be required to petition the court for the naming of a guardian. When the time comes that you pass away, your estate is going to be put through probate though the state you live in intestacy laws. Intestacy laws are state regulations that establish a will for those that don’t plan. The regulation names one or more members of the family as the heir(s) that get your assets in the amounts and/or percentages provided. They are very uncompromising and are doubtful to consider how you want your estate allocated. Planning is required when you want to bypass guardianship, bypass probate and distribute specific assets to specific individuals or charities.

2. Restricting Estate Planning Documents to a Will

For a lot of individuals, estate planning starts and concludes with the signing of a individuals will. Wills are not estate plans. A will may, in appropriate situations, be a part of an estate plan. Besides a will, a complete estate plan should include, at a minimum, a power of attorney for financial reasons, a power of attorney for healthcare and a declaration of intent. Wills are, nevertheless, subject to probate. You might want to think about utilizing a revocable living trust to bypass probate and the requirement for guardianship.

3. Restricting Estate Planning Documents to a Living Trust

A living trust is just a part of a complete estate plan. Besides your trust, your legal documents should comprise of, at a minimum, a pour-over will, a power of attorney for financial reasons, a power of attorney for healthcare and a declaration of intent. Estate planning also comprises of financial planning and account beneficiary examination. For instance, the beneficiary appointed on your financial and/or retirement accounts are part of the estate plan. These beneficiary appointments are required to be carefully consistent with the conditions of your legal documents.

4. Failing to Plan for Incapacitation

Estate planning comprises of a lot more than just establishing the distribution of your property at your passing. It comprises of planning for your physical care and administration of your property at your incapacity. Planning for incapacity comprises of powers of attorney for healthcare and finances and a declaration of intent. It may also comprise of a revocable living trust. If you don’t plan for incapacity, for instance if your estate plan consists of only a will, your family is going to be required to petition the court for the naming of a guardian should you become incapacitated.

5. Failing to Fund Your Living Trust

Living trusts are required be funded to prevent probate and the requirement for guardianship. “Funding” your living trust means concluding the process of re-titling your assets from your specific name into that of your appointed trust. Funding comprises of both assets that have titles (such as real estate) and those that don’t have titles (such as household furniture). When the funding process isn’t concluded, one of the essential benefits of a living trust, preventing probate, is going to be lost because the unfunded assets will be subject to probate.

6. Failure to Work with a Proficient Estate Planning Attorney

A lot of individual tries to save themselves money on estate planning by obtaining a DIY trust agreement online. Or choosing an attorney that offers the lowest price, regardless of proficiency. A worthier value is to work alongside a proficient estate planning attorney that can create your estate plan to fulfill your needs and goals. When your estate planning documentation is not properly created, they will not reach your goals. In addition, a proficient estate planning attorney is going to be able to advise you on how you may benefit by including a living trust in the estate plan.

7. Naming an Unsuitable Successor Trustee / Personal Representative

Your correctly created and fully financed living trust might not reach your objectives when your successor trustee fails to comprehend its conditions. A lot of individuals name one or more of their adult children as their successor trustee devoid of fully thinking about whether they will be more suitable to administer their trust after their incapacitation and following their passing. Whereas it might seem appropriate to name your oldest child as your successor trustee, you should think carefully about whether or not they have the knowledge, time, and knowledge to properly administer your trust. When you expect a challenge inside your family about the trust’s administration, you might want to think about naming a 3rd party or qualified successor trustee.

A lot of the same challenges applies to your Personal Representative. In addition to comprehending the conditions of your will, they going to need to understand the probate process. Your personal representative will also be required to have the time to meet with attorneys and develop and submit necessary court filings in a timely manner. A wrongly chosen personal representative is going to increase the stress of the probate process, in addition to the time and expense to finish the process.

8. The Failure to Name More Than One Successor Trustee or Personal Representative

When planning your estate its all about “what ifs?” Your plan needs to comprise of designated reserves or alternatives for all key individuals involved, including a successor trustee or personal representative. Many estate plans underperform since individuals make assumptions about the order of death and availability of individuals to take on specific roles. By offering alternates, you give your plan added strength and adaptability to keep functioning when the unexpected happens.

9. Failure to Discuss Your Estate Plan with a Successor Trustee or Personal Representative

You might want to keep your estate plan private, but that is probably a bad idea. Lacking communication is a common cause of estate plans failing. Living trusts and wills are drafted in technical legal terminology. Your successor trustee or personal representative might not be able to dictate your intention and their responsibilities from reading the documents by themselves. By discussing what you want to your designated successor it increases the likelihood of your estate being successfully managed.

10. Failure to Discuss Your Estate Plan with Your Family

A lot of individuals make the vital mistake of not talking about their estate planning, and why specific decisions were made, with their family before their passing. Communication is especially necessary when your plan includes unequal asset allocations among your children. Failure of communicating usually ends up causing hurt feelings and difference of opinion resulting in a significant amount of unnecessary (and costly) legal action. A lot of these issues, and the related costs, could be prevented by discussing your estate plan, and its objectives, with your family. You are, in a lot of ways, the only person that can clarify your estate planning decisions to your family.

11. Disregarding Your Digital Assets

More and more, individuals are living a lot more of their lives in the online world. Nevertheless, a lot of estate plans neglect to include directions concerning their digital assets. A lot of bank accounts, social media accounts and e-mail accounts are assets having financial or sentimental worth in which can only be accessed online. Your power of attorney, successor trustee or personal representative is going to require certain authority and information to access and administer your digital assets. You are required to indicate which accounts need be closed, removed and relocated. Your successor trustee or personal representative is going to require a extensive and up-dated list of all your digital accounts comprising of usernames, passwords and security questions for accessing your online accounts. Not having this information, it won’t be possible to manage your digital estate, causing possible financial loss and emotional misfortune.

12. Failure to Up-date Beneficiary Designations

Retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities each prevent probate with a designated beneficiary for each of the accounts. These beneficiary designations are going to overrule any contradictory instructions in a will or trust. These accounts may represent a considerable percentage of an estate and is required to be unified with other facets of your estate plan. A typical mistake is the failure to bring up-date these beneficiaries concerning life events, resulting in funds being allocated contrary to your intentions. The beneficiary designations on all accounts are required to be regularly reviewed, and up-dated as necessitated, to reflect changed situations and life events to stay unified with your estate plan.

13. Failure to Carry Out Periodic Reviews of Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is not an unchanging process. You cannot place your estate plan on the back burner and expect everything to work out. Estate plans require to be maintained. Every eight teen to twenty-four months you should review your estate plan’s legal documentation and the beneficiary designations of your financial accounts to verify that all is in order and properly unified. Frequent reviews also provide the chance to establish if your needs, situation or laws have changed following the last review.

14. Failing to Up-date Your Estate Plan to Indicate Life Events

Estate planning is affected by life events (divorces, marriages, passing away of family members, birth of family members, significant changes in health, serious illness diagnosis, change in financial situations) and is required to be revised correspondingly. Following a life event, you should go over your estate plan, not excluding your trust agreement, to establish what needs to be modified to reflect the change. One benefit of a revocable trust is that it can be modified to reflect changed situations after a life event.

15. Not Remembering Your Pet

Your estate plan can include conditions for your pet. Regrettably, a lot of pets end up living the rest of their lives in animal shelters following their owner’s passing since there was no plan in place. You can make arrangements for your pet by naming an individual that are going to have custody and provide them with funding to help pay for pet food and veterinary care. In a lot of states, your arrangement may include an individual “pet trust” to help with funding for your pet following your incapacity or passing. Planning for a pet is particularly important when you have an exotic or unique pet.

16. Failure to Think About Using an Irrevocable Trust

Revocable living trusts are created to bypass probate. They could also exclude the need to have a guardian appointed should you become incapacitated. They don’t, nevertheless, safeguard assets from creditors or protect them from Medicaid’s spend down process. Irrevocable trusts, on the other hand, when correctly drafted and funded, can accomplish both. when either one of those goals is part of your estate planning objectives, you should talk with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney about including an irrevocable trust in your estate plan.

17. Failure to Plan for Long-Term Care

As individuals are living longer, the number of people that spend time in nursing homes continually increases. With costs getting close to $10,000 annually, a nursing home stay could decimate your estate and financial plan. Still a lot of individuals fail to plan for this increasingly probable event. The outcome is that you will be forced to use just about all of your assets to pay for your nursing home care until you are qualified for Medicaid (typically known as Medicare spend down). Several financial planning options are available to exploit your financial resources for covering your long-term care costs. A lot of estate planning options are available to safeguard assets from the Medicaid spend down.

18. Failure to Plan for End-of-Life Issues

End-of-Life Planning is required so you can maintain management of your person. One of the fears a lot of people share is a slow passing with their life being mechanically and artificially elongated after an accident or other medical matters. You can stay away from this fate with correct planning. The conventional treatment for medical personnel is to give the required treatment to keep the patient living, even if recovery is impossible. Part of estate planning, no matter age, is planning for your health care and medical treatments at your end-of-life, if you are no longer able to impart your desires. You should decide and convey what treatments you want (and possibly don’t want) to receive when you reach the end of your life, before to those plans are needed.

19. Placing a Child’s Name on a Deed

A general estate planning approach, and possible expensive mistake, is placing your children on the deed to your home as co-owners having rights of survivorship. Whereas this step avoids probate, it also has unfavorable tax results. Because your children got part of the home’s value as a gift, they’ll owe more capital gains taxation from its sale than if they had taken it as an inheritance instead. The home also comes to be vulnerable to the obligations and debts of the new co-owner, your son or daughter, including those resulting from divorce. In a lot of states, creditors can push the sale of the home to acquire the child’s portion.

20. Using a Conventional Estate Plan for a Blended Family

Your estate plan should be appropriate for your family. Still, as demonstrated in state intestacy laws, “default” estate planning comes with a clear prejudice towards conventional families. For instance, estate plans for couples that are married, particularly online “DIY kits” usually follow the “all to spouse” standard at the passing of first spouse. Nevertheless, as an increasing number of families are becoming more complex, including children from previous relationships, separate assets, and other disparities, sometimes make that type of an estate plan a bad match. By working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney, your plan can be created to match the actual structure of your family.

21. Treating Beneficiaries Equally, Rather than Fairly

A lot of parents feel bound to split their estate equally between their children. And a lot of children believe they should be treated equally. Regardless, this kind of equal allocation at death may be unequal for several reasons. The children might have considerably separate financial means. The parents might have provided more for one of children than the others. One child might have given more care or assistance than another. When parents do choose to offer for an unequal allocation, it’s vital that they discuss that choice with their children to avoid any emotional distress, and costly legal action, following their passing away.

22. Failure to Coordinate Financial Accounts with Legal Documentation

When discussing estate planning, a lot of individuals only think about legal documentation such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney. Nonetheless, estate plans comprise of 2 separate, but associated, factors: legal documentation and financial accounts. The allocation conditions in these factors need to be coordinated, meaning that each of them reflects the same objective for the administration and allocation of assets. In a lot of estates, the worth of the financial accounts will be a considerable fraction of the estate’s worth. A lot of these accounts, such as retirement accounts, annuities and/or life insurance, will have beneficiary designations so they don’t pass under either a will or trust. Consequently, these beneficiary designations are required to be coordinated with the asset allocation conditions of the will or trust, so that the overall asset allocation matches your intended objective.

23. Failure to Conduct Sufficient Financial Planning

A well-written estate plan may fail if no assets are left over to be administered or allocated. An typically-forgotten aspect of estate planning is financial planning to make sure enough income and assets are available to fulfill your lifetime requirements. Your plan should include guaranteed resources of lifetime income to fulfill your living costs. Along your living costs, your financial plan should address things such as home repairs, healthcare, and health insurance. You should plan to take advantage of your existing assets to cover the cost for your long-term care. With couples that are married, it should address the alternative of any income lost at pass of first spouse.

24. Failure to Read Actual Estate Plan Legal Documentation

The only way to guarantee that your trust, your will, powers of attorney and declaration of intent do what you wish is to read the actual documentation. When you don’t understand something, you may look for an explanation from your attorney. When you need to modify it, you can change the documentation. In addition, how are you able to clarify and detail your estate plan to your successor trustee, your personal legal representative and family members when you have never even read it?

25. Failure to Keep Records

A living trust is just one aspect of a total estate plan. In addition to your trust, your legal documents need to include, at a minimum, a pour-over will, a power of attorney for financial reasons, a power of attorney for healthcare and a declaration of intent. Estate planning also includes financial planning and account beneficiary assessment. For instance, the beneficiary designations on your retirement and financial accounts are parts of your overall estate plan. Such beneficiary designations are required to be carefully integrated with the conditions of your legal documentation.


  1. 25 common estate planning mistakes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://legacyassuranceplan.com/estate-planning-mistakes/

Arizona Family Law

Naming guardians in your will can be part of your estate plan. You may think you’re too young or don’t have enough money to justify the expense, but if you have children, you have priceless assets. There are many considerations when naming guardians for your kids. However, the process doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

There’s nothing better than the peace of mind you will have knowing you’ve protected your family at a time when they need it most. Let us help. Schedule a consultation or contact Ogborne Law, PLC of Arizona today.

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