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Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate planning encompasses many legal areas including laying out wishes for future medical care, choosing a guardian for minor children, and determining how to distribute assets after death. When an individual dies without a comprehensive plan, the determination regarding the above decisions will be made by a court of law. Unfortunately, there are many common estate planning mistakes that occur if an estate is not handled correctly. These mistakes are often only discovered too late, after a person has passed away. If you are interested in creating or updating your estate plan, contact the experienced California estate planning attorneys at Von Rock Law at 866-720-0195.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #1 – Failing To Create an Estate Plan

Procrastination and failing to plan and prepare an estate plan is the first and most crucial mistake. A life-altering event could happen at any moment, causing either death or a person to become incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own behalf. When a comprehensive estate plan is in place, a person’s medical decisions and instructions for handling finances are clearly articulated. Additionally, an estate plan relieves a great deal of stress for families that are already dealing with the sudden loss or severe injury of a loved one.

According to the California Office of the Attorney General, the state of California will make those critical decisions when people die without proper estate planning documents to provide instructions and final wishes. It is a complex and time-consuming process that leaves essential decisions about the distribution of money and other assets to the court.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #2 – Selecting the Wrong People To Carry Out the Estate

A significant aspect of estate planning is selecting the best people to fill important roles. Choosing the right executor of the estate, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney, trustees, or guardians to carry out their legal obligations is an important decision. Visiting with an experienced estate planning attorney at Von Rock Law can help you understand the implications of all of these roles, and help you determine which people would best carry out your wishes.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #3 – Forgetting to Address Healthcare Issues

Another common mistake in estate planning is forgetting to include future healthcare wishes. Many people think that estate planning only addresses guardianship of minor children and the distribution of assets. However, a comprehensive estate plan should also address situations involving incapacitation or injury, either on a temporary or permanent basis. An estate plan should also specifically identify healthcare wishes through a living will, and appoint a healthcare power of attorney to a trusted family member or friend. Additionally, an estate plan should attempt to work in tandem with government medical programs in California in order to protect both the health and finances of a person. Forgetting to address healthcare issues is a common mistake in estate planning that can result in catastrophic consequences.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #4 – Failing to Update the Estate Plan

Carefully prepared estate planning documents provide many protections and are often long-lasting. However, regular review and updating are crucial for even the most well-planned and prepared estate documents. Life is constantly changing, and when there are new developments, the estate plan must reflect them. Some of the most common life events that warrant updating the estate plan include:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • The birth of a child
  • A significant purchase
  • Selling of property
  • Death of an heir
  • Changes in guardians, trustees, powers of attorney, or personal representatives
  • Children turning 18

There are many reasons to update an estate plan; the above is only a select few. Any significant life changes should warrant a look at your estate plan.

Common Estate Planning Mistake #5 – Creating an Estate Plan Without Legal Guidance

The internet has made do-it-yourself legal document drafting and services more common in recent years. Many decide to take on estate planning without speaking to a legal professional. Countless websites advertise low-cost legal services and documents conforming to federal and state laws.

According to the American Bar Association, replacing the guidance of an estate planning attorney with a legal website could possibly have many negative consequences. The websites promise quality, legally binding documents, and effective services. Yet, they commonly fail to meet state regulations. Several states have even filed lawsuits asserting that online legal service companies were engaging in unlawful practices. 

When people see online legal documents and service companies’ guarantees, they believe their affairs are in order and accordance with the law. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and people who trust them to help with estate planning face many adverse repercussions. A seasoned estate planning attorney at Von Rock Law can help answer specific questions about estate planning mistakes and how to avoid them.

Consider Visiting with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today

Failing to prepare for the future and create a comprehensive estate plan can have countless negative effects. Additionally, a mistake could undermine your intentions, leaving your legacy’s future in the hands of a judge. Working with an experienced and compassionate estate planning attorney to prepare your estate planning documents can give you peace of mind knowing your wishes will be carried out following your death. Further, an estate plan can also clearly identify what your wishes are in the event of your incapacitation. If you are interested in learning more, and creating an estate plan, consider contacting the dedicated California estate planning attorneys at Von Rock Law at 866-720-0195.

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