More than half the population have not planned their estate. Estate planning includes important documents such as a last will and testament, a revocable living trust, an irrevocable trust, a special needs trust, a general Durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, advance medical directive, and living will. Keep in mind that a will also designates a guardian and trustee for your minor children.
Successful estate planning evaluates survivorship options on life insurance plans, real estate, bank accounts, and retirement plans.
Given the impact that mistakes can have on you and your family’s financial well-being, family relationships, and medical care, you need to be aware of ways that people compromise the effectiveness of their estate plan or undermine it entirely. In this blog, Olivia Wann, a Tennessee estate planning attorney, highlights some all too frequent mistakes.
Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning
The marketplace is full of do-it-yourself options for estate planning that include software programs, websites, preprinted forms, and self-help books. Unfortunately, without the guidance of a licensed attorney, these do-it-yourself options may not assure your estate is properly handled.
Recently I served a probate client where the decedent created a Revocable Living Trust using an online program. Although the Trust Schedule indicated that the real estate and bank accounts were titled to the Trust, nothing was actually in the Trust thus necessitating probate which is probably what the individual was trying to avoid in the first place.
Estate planning requires careful thought and planning in light of trust law, probate law, tax law, health care law, agency law, real estate law, property ownership law, matrimonial law, and many other legal specialty areas. While a website or stationery store might furnish a form for you to complete, an experienced Tennessee estate planning attorney can confirm that such a document is the best estate planning option for you. This evaluation will depend on your fiscal situation, family relationships, age, health status, exposure to litigation, and many other relevant factors.
Even if you select the right legal documents for your situation, standardized forms sold commercially will may lack the legal insight to assure your personal goals are satisfied. Although these do-it-yourself options might save you a few dollars upfront, it may cost your your estate later on not to mention the frustration among family members and the personal representative.
Reliance on Non-Attorneys
Individuals may look to their friends and family members for advice. Perhaps they have consulted an insurance person or an individual specializing in financial planning. Although you may gather helpful information, consult a licensed attorney who handles estate planning as part of their regular practice of law.
An estate planning attorney will focus not only on potential immediate needs, but look to the future and how your legacy is affected. You will receive the eduation you need to determine if your estate requires more complex planning such as inclusion of an Irrevocable Trust or merely a simple Last Will and Testament.
An estate planning attorney will also discuss the impact of a Medicaid recovery if you should require long term care and how this affects your beneficiaries.
Procrastination in Creating an Estate Plan
If you die intestate, meaning without a will, your estate will be distributed according to state law. This may not be how you intend to distribute your real and personal property particularly without the opportunity to personally select your personal representative.
Perhaps you have an estate plan, but you have recently remarried and your new spouse has children from a previous marriage. Have you considered the impact of devise your entire estate to your spouse and how your children will be affected?
These are areas an experienced estate planning attorney will address whenconsulting with you and your family needs.
Olivia Wann, Attorney at Law, treats each client as an individual by customizing the consultation and services to her each client’s unique situation in life. Call today to create an estate plan that meets your family needs and budget. Call us at (931) 232-4LAW (4529) or visit our website.
NOTE: Reading this article does not constitute legal advice or engage the services of Olivia Wann as an attorney.