If you’ve never worked with an experienced estate planning attorney to put together an estate plan before, you may mistakenly believe that creating an estate plan is something that you can do by yourself. Why should you go to see an estate planning attorney when there are websites that will allow you to draft these documents all without leaving your home? The reality is that there are numerous intricacies and nuances associated with an estate plan, and what’s right for one person may not be right for the next.
Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning Missteps That Could Lead to Disaster
As trusted estate planning attorneys in San Diego, we believe it’s critical to provide our clients with an in depth understanding of errors that they should always avoid. Here are some common examples:
1. Failing to Plan
Lack of planning is by far the biggest estate planning mistake. This can leave your loved ones in turmoil and your estate can end up in probate court for an unspecified amount of time. Creating an estate plan will ensure your assets are handled in the manner that you would want by a person that you trust.
2. Keeping your family in the dark
We get it, talking about end-of-life issues can be a difficult discussion. That said, talking to your family about your wishes can help to reduce the possibility of conflict both in the hospital or care facility and after you pass away. While this may be an uncomfortable conversation, it’s an important one to have.
3. Neglecting to name successor beneficiaries
While naming primary beneficiaries is important, it’s also important that you take the time to name successor beneficiaries in the unfortunate event that your primary beneficiaries pass away before you. For example, properly citing California Probate Code can ensure that a primary beneficiary’s share of your estate passes down to their children if they are deceased. Using the wrong code here or generic language can instead disinherit grandchildren or bring about an unintended result.
4. Creating a will but not other estate planning documents
It’s important to remember that utilizing different types estate planning documents can come into play during your lifetime as things change. For example, a power of attorney appoints a person to make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so. A living will and a medical directive can provide insight to both your family as well as doctors regarding your wishes for your medical care if you’re unable to do so yourself. A Trust can ensure your wishes are adhered to outside of Probate court if your estate meets certain parameters that would lead your family into Court using only a Will. A comprehensive estate plan will always include these documents.
5. Neglecting to set up a trust
In the state of California, a revocable living trust is a powerful estate planning tool that can help you to avoid the probate process all together. If you don’t have a trust in place then your executor and family members must go through the probate courts to administer your will. They will have to wait months before they are able to see a penny from your assets, and years before they can fully distribute everything according to your wishes, assuming no one sparks a fight along the way. In addition to unnecessary time and money, a will leaves all of your family business in the open for the public to see, as Probate court and all documents filed within can be seen by anyone who cares to take a peek. A trust on the other hand ensures privacy amongst your family while they go through a difficult time and carry out your wishes free of the public view.
6. Not updating your estate planning documents often enough
Any experienced estate planning attorney in San Diego will tell you that it’s essential to regularly review your documents. It’s very common for family dynamics to change in the form of a new child being born, a named beneficiary passing away, or an appointed person no longer being a good fit for the assigned role in your Estate Plan. Our firms offer a free review of current estate planning documents to ensure that they are still in line with your current wishes and optimized to the most modern approaches.
7. Leaving your plans in an inaccessible place
Many people make the decision to leave their estate planning documents in a safe deposit box or a lock box in their home. While this may be a practical way to keep these documents protected, you need to ensure that you give your friends or family members a way to access these documents after your death. While getting into a lock box at home may not be such a big hurdle, a safe deposit box at the bank can have us going through Probate just to open the box! As such, we generally advise all of our clients to never keep their original documents in a safe deposit box. A safe place at home for the originals and a digital backup held with your attorney is usually a safer plan to avoid any headache or confusion.
Schedule An Appointment Today with our Estate Planning Attorneys in San Diego
As knowledgeable estate planning attorneys in San Diego, the team at Jenkins & Jenkins, Estate Planning Attorneys will ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of any of these mistakes. We work with every client on a personal level to ensure that their documents clearly indicate the wishes that they have for their legacy. Reach out to us today and book your obligation-free consultation.
Testimonial from Debbie, Satisfied Estate Planning Client
I had the experience of working with Michael at Jenkins & Jenkins. He was great to work with and helped me with a trust probate I was handling. He answered all my questions and put my mind at ease as to the best way to deal with the issues. I would highly recommend him for your trust needs!