The most common mistake of an estate plan is simply not having one.  Many people think they are under the threshold to need an estate plan.   However, getting your estate documents in order is useful even if you don’t have a need for estate tax planning.  Making sure you have a Will, a Living Will, a Healthcare Power of Attorney, a Financial Power of Attorney and a Testamentary Trust is a staple of every good financial plan.

The second most common mistake is knowing who the beneficiaries of your accounts are and how your assets are titled.  If you have suitable beneficiary information listed on your accounts, the assets will flow to them quickly and without hesitation.  However, if they are not listed correctly, they will circumvent your Will and assets will be given directly to the individual listed.  For example, if you opened an IRA years ago with your ex-spouse listed as your beneficiary, will receive the assets.  Not your new spouse and adult children.

Along those same lines, often times people forget to update their estate plan and will overlook personal and financial changes.  Children grow up, businesses develop and change, accounts grow to significant amounts, trustee relationships change, etc.  All these instances result in updates that need to be made to a sound financial and estate plan.

Do you own out of state real estate?  It ideally should be owed by a trust.  Otherwise that property is subject to ancillary probate which means a probate estate in that state must be opened and it must coordinate with the original state law of the decedent’s estate.  Sound confusing?  It is, which is why having the property held in trust simplifies the situation for the heirs of the property.

Lastly, often times clients come to us with their estate documents and have no idea what any of it actually means.  Estate planning can be complicated and confusing.  Make sure you engage an attorney you trust that can help you walk through the process to accomplish your wishes and have it reviewed by your trusted financial planner.

Securities, Investment Advisory and Financial Planning Services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC, Member SIPC, 12 Cadillac Drive, Suite 440, Brentwood, TN  37027 (615) 309-6300.  Continuum Planning Partners is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or it affiliated companies. Neither MML Investors Services, LLC nor its representatives provide tax/legal services.  CRN201711-197562

Continuum Planning Partners Post Author
Abby Spaulding, CFP®

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