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4 Estate Planning Mistakes That Can Cost You

There are many benefits to estate planning. A carefully designed estate plan ensures that all assets are passed to the creator’s intended beneficiaries and is key to preventing any family conflicts, bitterness, or complications.

Estate planning can be complex, which is why it makes sense to hire an estate planning attorney in Santa Rosa. Your attorney will help you identify and use estate planning tools to avoid probate. They will revisit and update your plan at regular intervals to ensure it reflects your current situation should it change.

When it comes to estate planning, even a seemingly minor mistake can prove to be a costly error in the future. Your wishes may be left unfulfilled or your beneficiaries may find themselves saddled with tax liabilities.

Here are some common estate planning mistakes to avoid.  

Beneficiary Problems 

Failing to name beneficiaries or not updating beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies could prove detrimental for your loved ones down the line. Failing to update beneficiary designations could mean that your assets get passed on to an incidental beneficiary rather than your intended one.

Another common estate planning mistake is failing to name successor beneficiaries. A successor beneficiary receives the death benefits of a life insurance policy if the primary beneficiary passes away first.  

Failure to Update the Estate Plan 

You cannot create your estate plan and forget it. Revisit your estate plan and make necessary changes to ensure it stays relevant after major life events such as a death, birth, divorce, or marriage.

Review your plan whenever there is a change in your net worth, job status, or if you move to a different state or the overall composition of your estate plan changes. Update your estate documents to ensure your assets are dispersed according to your wishes.  

Not Updating Asset Ownership 

You might own some assets in your name and others jointly with your children or spouse/partner. Some assets may be in trusts or limited partnerships.

It is important to review your asset ownership whenever your situation changes or the federal or state government brings about changes to existing law or introduces a new law. Make sure your existing plan is relevant and does not add unnecessary costs and complexity.

Failure to Update Powers of Attorney

Your estate plan should include at least two powers of attorney. One for financial matters and the other for medical care. Whenever your healthcare wishes or your financial situation changes, revisit your powers of attorney to adjust them.

Johnston Thomas Law is a team of seasoned estate planning attorneys in Santa Rosa. We are committed to protecting the best interests of our clients and will create an effective estate plan to communicate your wishes, outlining how you want your assets distributed. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call (707) 545-6542.

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