Estate planning mistakes aren’t uncommon and they could wind up complicating the probate process for those that you leave behind. Working with a reputable and experienced probate attorney can help you to avoid making these mistakes. As the top probate attorney in St Petersburg, Florida, attorney Matthew Weidner often counsels his clients on how to avoid these mistakes and today, he’s sharing a few of the most commonly seen errors with you!
Estate Planning Mistakes: 6 Big Mistakes You Could Be Making
1. Only Planning For Death
The average person who thinks about estate planning thinks about their death – “who will get what when I die” etc. Unfortunately, most people don’t stop to think about what will happen if they become incapacitated or disabled for a long period.
Good estate planning means planning for every eventuality and that means putting a living will in place as well as a last will and testament. Your living will should include the appointment of someone to handle your medical decisions and your financial decisions as well as appoint someone to serve as the guardian of your children.
2. Not Choosing or Choosing the Wrong Executor For Your Estate
When you fail to choose an executor for your estate, you leave to the probate court to choose one for you. This means that your estate executor may be someone who doesn’t have the best interests of your family and friends in mind. It also means that your executor could be completely unfamiliar with what you may have wanted when it comes to determining what your last wishes may have been.
Choosing the wrong executor for your will can be just as devastating because the wrong person could wind up stealing from your estate or simply not acting in the best interest of your family. If this unscrupulous executor is not called out on their actions, they could wind up stealing a large chunk of your estate for self profit and leave your family with very little.
3. Changing the Name on Your Home Deed to Your Child’s Name
Putting your child’s name on the deed to your home may seem like a good way to pass on your largest possession to your heirs, but it’s actually a terrible idea. When you pass on a property in this way, you end up leaving your child with a very large tax bill. Instead of taking a chance that could leave your loved ones with a bill that they can’t afford, create an estate plan that passes the property on as an inheritance.
When you change the name on your deed to that of your child, it’s important to know that it’s considered to be a gift. Only $14,000 of a gift is tax-free. This means that anything you give that has a value of over $14,000, is taxable. So, your children wind up owing money that they may not have in the first place! Using inheritance is the best way to avoid this problem from happening and your probate attorney can help you to put this in place.
4. Not Regularly Updating Your Will
Another common mistake that people make when trying to plan their estate without the assistance of a professional, is to write a single estate plan and fail to update that plan. Estate planning is the best way to plan for your future no matter what it may bring, but it’s also the best way for you to pass on items from your estate to people who they would mean most to. Sometimes, however, things change – we lose touch with people, we grow or shrink our estate,- and we wind up having to make additional changes to our estate plan. Failing to make those changes under the supervision of a probate attorney and making them yourself can also cause a number of problems – especially in the state of Florida where it’s necessary to have multiple witnesses present in order for a will to be considered valid.
5. Not Making Use of a Life Insurance Trust
A life insurance trust is a trust that is set up so that the trust acts as the owner of the life insurance policies. This means that proceeds from life insurance policies are not subjected to estate taxes and that your beneficiaries do not have to wait long periods to receive payouts from life insurance policies
6. Putting Off Estate Planning
Perhaps one of the most commonly made mistakes when it comes to estate planning is to procrastinate planning until it’s too late. No one likes to think about the what if’s and the nitty-gritty details that are often required when making an estate plan, but putting off the estate planning process can cause problems much worse than these! Putting off your estate planning process can result in your not having time to make that plan after all should some sudden event leave you incapacitated or dead. Without that plan in place, there is no way for any of your beneficiaries or the probate court to know what your last wishes were or how you want your estate to be distributed and to whom those assets should be transferred.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be as torturous as many people would have you believe it to be. With a reputable and knowledgeable probate attorney on your side, estate planning can be more of a “plug and play” experience as opposed to a real struggle that drags out over weeks or even months!
Need Help Avoiding Those Estate Planning Mistakes?
If you live in St. Petersburg and you need help avoiding those estate planning mistakes, attorney Matthew Weidner can help. Just call the offices of Weidner Law today at 727-954-8752 to see how attorney Weidner can help you today!