Articles Posted in Wills

As estate planning professionals, we encounter a number of situations and are very familiar with the most common types of estate planning errors that people make.

No matter if these mistakes are the result of laziness or lack of care, errors in estate planning have the potential to create a number of substantial obstacles. For example, if a will is declared invalid, your estate might be administered in a way that does not conform with your wishes.

Hopefully by reviewing some of the most common types of estate planning mistakes in this article, you will be able to avoid them.

If you are a parent with a special needs trust, you likely understand how critical it is to prepare for the future. After all, these trusts make sure that a child continues to receive financial support in case you die or become incapacitated. These trusts are also particularly helpful because directly transferring assets to a special needs child outside of a trust can result in the discontinuation of government benefits.

Deciding the amount of funds to place in a trust, however, can be difficult. That’s why this article reviews some of the important details you should consider when funding a special needs trust.

# 1 – Housing Costs

Three people in Ohio were recently convicted on multiple charges related to a scheme associated with creating and probating a fake will that left the entirety of a $2.2 million estate to a beneficiary and revoked an earlier will the deceased person had executed in 1993. In an additional twist, the person who forged the deceased individual’s signature on the fraudulent will acted as a government information after his request for $50,000 to remain silent was denied.

This plot was discovered following a series of 171 withdrawals for less than $10,000 which caught the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. A trial resulted which saw forensic witnesses who examined the signature on the will. As a result of this conviction, the three individuals will not face jail time.

The Overwhelming Rate at which Estate Planning Fraud Occurs

Many investors focus on amassing as large a savings as possible, but some also want to create an estate plans to make sure that these assets are passed on to loved ones.

By following some proven strategies, it is possible to reduce the amount of associated estate taxes. The biggest mistake that investors make when estate planning is failing to understand the rules. If accounts are not properly created, there are a number of unwanted events that can occur.

As a result, if you are an investor who is interested in passing on your assets, you should make sure to follow the recommended tips below.

Electronic wills have the option of providing a variety of important benefits to individuals who are interested in the estate planning process. Considering the tendency of many individuals to delay issues related to estate planning, electronic wills provide individuals with an opportunity to quickly create a legal document that decides how their assets should be divided following their death.

Weaknesses in Electronic Wills

There are some dangers that exist in using an electronic will, which must be addressed before these wills are capable of being used before individuals. A skilled estate planning attorney, however, is often able to help individuals navigate these various issues which include the following:

Tax preparation is one of the most important considerations when creating an estate plan. Whenever a person or business creates an estate plan, there are multiple types of taxes to avoid – inheritance taxes, estate taxes, and income taxes, to name a few. Without a proper estate plan, these taxes can eat into a large portion of the estate.

Here are several common estate planning strategies that could reduce your tax liability:

  1. Marital Transfers. If both spouses in the marriage are American citizens, then lifetime gifts or bequests at death between them not be subject to estate taxes.

Planning your estate is an extremely important process and should be taken very seriously in order to avoid hassles or any extra delay that could come with passing your estate through probate or otherwise transferring assets to loved ones and friends. With proper planning and attention to detail, most folks can avoid some of the most common estate planning mistakes and avoid any costly and prolonged probate process.

One of the most common estate planning mistakes is adding a friend or younger family member’s name to a joint account as a matter of practicality to make accessing the deceased’s bank account after passing away to pay for funeral costs and other bills. While this may seem like a good idea to some, the reality is that this can create confusion over the deceased’s intentions and may complicate probate. A better alternative is to give a trusted  individual power of attorney to make financial decisions if incapacitated and a prepay for funeral expenses.

Instead of leaving assets to heirs in a will outright, individuals should consider setting up a trust for these assets to pass onto upon the grantor’s death. This way the heir does not take on unwanted wealth to his or her name and complicate tax considerations or Medicaid planning. This can also shield the assets from creditors who may go after the wealth to recoup debts incurred by the heir.

Comprehensive estate planning should be a continuing process. It is important to review your estate plan periodically, especially after major life events occur. An experienced estate planning attorney that helps you review your comprehensive estate plan as part of their service can make sure that you address changing needs and circumstances. The following can also provide a framework for you to start thinking about what to look for when reviewing your estate plan.

Start with Your Will

This is often a good place to start in creating your estate plan and in reviewing it. As time goes on, you are likely to experience a number of changes. Your family may grow to include additional beneficiaries. You are also likely to acquire a number of different assets. An effective Will will take all of this into consideration and include detailed instructions for distributing the assets within it.

In today’s day and age, identity theft is all too common a problem. In fact, the news is often filled with horror stories related to identity theft. Identity theft is a serious problem that can wreak havoc on your life, and it can also have a significant impact on your estate plan. The following information can help you start to understand the potential effects of identity theft on your estate plan.

Access to Private Information

Wills, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, and other estate planning documents contain very personal information. Not only do some documents have your social security number, but they could also contain other sensitive financial information, too. It is extremely important to safeguard these documents to prevent such information from slipping into the wrong hands. For instance, if someone were to gain access to this type of personal information they could potentially open up credit cards in the name of the deceased individual or even file a final tax return in their name before heirs have a chance to do so.

Nobody likes thinking about serious illness, especially a serious illness that could lead to death. Unfortunately, such illnesses can cause massive financial difficulties for friends and loved ones which can in turn significantly deplete the assets you had been planning to leave to your heirs. The moral of the story is that, no matter your age, it is never too early to start planning for the potential need for end-of-life care. The following tips are adapted from a recent article on this topic found in USA Today, and they may provide you with some important concepts to consider when thinking about healthcare issues.

Be Explicit About Your Wishes

Telling people in passing how you hope to be cared for in case of serious illness is important, but it isn’t necessarily always enough. It is important to write down your wishes and be explicit about how you wish your health care to be handled. You should also work with your estate planning attorney to create documents such as health care proxy nominations and/or a living will that express your healthcare wishes in detail.

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