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Estate Planning

Jun 26, 2017 02:48PM ● By Daniel DuRee

Top Five Estate Planning Oversights

By Daniel DuRee

This month we celebrate our independence by eating chili dogs in the park and watching fireworks while the “Star Spangled Banner” plays. After your sunburn heals, exercise your freedom to protect yourself, your family, and your assets from the long arm of the state and their probate courts with proper estate planning.

The following are the top five most common estate-planning oversights we encounter. When you are ready, we are here to make sure you and your family are protected.

1.     More than $150,000 Held Outside of a Trust

In California, if you have more than $150,000 in gross assets held outside a living trust, at least part of your estate will likely be subject to probate. That’s expensive and time consuming for your heirs. It is also easily avoidable by setting up and properly funding a living trust.

2.     Minor Children with no Guardians Nominated

If you do not properly nominate guardians for minor children in a will (separate from a trust), a judge will decide who will raise your children if you are gone. Nobody wants a judge to make that decision without their input.

3.     Incomplete Beneficiary Forms

Although most people have a first beneficiary on their retirement accounts and life insurance policies, most do not have secondary or “contingent” beneficiaries. Many beneficiary forms are also outdated and do not reflect current wishes.

4.     Healthcare Wishes are Not Spelled Out

Almost never does a client walk through the door without a strong opinion regarding their end of life care. Document those wishes and appoint someone to carry them out with an advance healthcare directive.  

5.     No Planning in Case of Incapacity

In California, if you are incapacitated without proper planning, you will be subject to a guardianship, which is a court oversight of your personal, healthcare, and financial matters. You can appoint someone to handle these issues with the proper documents and avoid having a judge make final decisions for you.

While these are common oversights, with a fairly minimal amount of effort and the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, you can protect yourself, the people you love, and your hard-earned assets by setting up a proper estate plan. If you have questions or would like to start the process, we are happy to help.