How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes
Not having a will seems to always top the list estate planning errors, but many people are already aware of the implications of dying without one. Florida probate code on intestate succession applies, which takes the handling of your estate out of your hands – so administration proceeds according to a set of strict rules rather than your wishes. Instead of reiterating this point, it’s important to take a look at other mistakes, which can have adverse consequences that you may not expect. By working with a Dade City estate planning attorney, you can avoid other common pitfalls, including:
- Failing to Plan for Disability or Incapacity: It’s almost as important to make arrangements for incapacity as it is to execute a will. In Florida, you can create a Designation of a Health Care Surrogate to make medical decisions if you’re unable due to incapacity; a Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent to manage your assets under such circumstances. Without these essential documents, someone would need to go to court to be appointed to act on your behalf.
- Unintended Consequences with Joint Accounts and Assets: When you open a bank or investment account, you may be asked whether you choose to name a beneficiary to receive the funds upon death. In other situations, you may hold an account jointly with another person. The advantage is that these assets aren’t subject to the probate process, but many people don’t realize that they pass to the designated beneficiary by operation of law. By consulting with an estate planning lawyer, you can avoid unintended results with pay-on-death or joint tenancy accounts.
- Neglecting to Revisit Your Plan: Certain life events necessitate a review of your estate plan, such as birth of a child, marriage, death of a beneficiary, or divorce. You may also want to revisit the arrangement if you experience major changes in your net worth, so you can incorporate tax planning for estate and gift taxes.
- Attempting to “DIY” Your Estate Plan: There are countless websites that offer free or low-cost estate planning documents. The ads promise that you can fill out the forms for your state, execute them according to the instructions, and you’re set. The problem is that the documents are “one size fits all,” so they don’t take into account your specific family and financial circumstances.
- Withholding Information from Your Attorney: Full disclosure is essential for establishing an effective estate plan that aligns with your intentions. Meeting your goals isn’t possible if you don’t share critical details regarding your financial situation, family relationships, and areas of potential conflict upon your death.
Trust a Dade City Estate Planning Lawyer to Avoid Critical Mistakes
At the Law Office of Laurie R. Chane, it’s our goal to advise you on a wide range of estate planning options and steer clear of errors that can lead to an unfavorable outcome. For more information, please call 352-567-0055 or visit us online to set up a free consultation at our office in Dade City, FL.