1. FAILING TO PLAN. The surest way to mess up your estate, allow the courts and attorneys to eat up your legacy, is to fail to do any planning. While it is not the most fun thing to do or spend your money on, it is absolutely critical that you take the time and take care of your family.
2. NOT REVIEWING THE PLAN. My rule of thumb for everyone who has taken the time to set up their Living Trust and Estate Plan is to come see me at least every 5 years! I offer a free consultation to review your documents. We can then determine if they still do what you are hoping they will do, see if there are any changes that need to be made, update things like beneficiaries, successor trustees, special bequests, etc.
I have found so many people thought their documents said something when, in fact, they were drafted incorrectly by another attorney and now we can fix it. Perhaps there was a life change that they did not consider where an amendment would be needed. There are times when the people they chose as successor trustee or powers of attorney are now too old or incapacitated to serve and need some updating. It is critical to have your plan reviewed!!
3. DOING IT YOURSELF. “Saving” money is often the most efficient way to cost you more in the long run. Have you heard of “good money chasing bad?” Your estate and the legacy you leave is not worth saving a few dollars by trying to draft legal documents yourself. Going to these quick, non-personal, already done legal document establishments is about as good as doing it yourself. Most trust litigation attorneys love those that try as those are the ones that will end up in litigation. The problems created by going the cheap route will normally not be handled by the one creating the documents, instead it will be shouldered by the person’s family.
4. FAILING TO FUND THE LIVING TRUST. Creating a Living Trust is like creating a bucket. The bucket is empty until you put something inside of it. To keep assets outside of probate, they need to be placed inside of the bucket (with some exceptions).
5. NOT PLANNING FOR DISABILITY. The Living Trust is not the only document that needs to be drafted to take care of your Estate Planning needs. You need to consider and draft the proper documents to plan for disability. As such, Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directives and other documents need to be discussed and properly drafted.
April 2015 by Donald W. Flaig, Esq.