One of the most important parts of life is to learn from the mistakes we make so that we can avoid making those same errors again. It is also important to share information with family members and friends so that they can learn from our mistakes, too, and likewise avoid taking those same missteps.
In that spirit, we offer the advice recently offered by an estate planning attorney who is determined to help clients and others avoid the errors she has seen over the years.
The first mistake she lists is probably the most important to avoid: doing nothing. That is, the worst estate planning error of all is made by those who don’t make an estate plan.
Some might believe they earn or own too little to bother with an estate plan. The lawyer quoted in the article makes it clear that everyone benefits from deciding how their estate will be handled. Those who benefit most of all include homeowners, married people and parents.
Mistake #2: treating all of your kids exactly the same. The estate planning attorney says that while this might seem like a fair approach, “there is no law that says you have to treat your kids exactly the same and that everybody’s column has to be equal penny to penny at the end of the day when everything settles out.”
Mistake #3: adding the names of your children and their spouses to the title of your property. The attorney said this can be “a terrible gift” with significant tax considerations for your offspring. Don’t do this without talking to an estate planning pro first.
Mistake #4: copying your neighbor’s estate plan. She says there is no one-size-fits-all estate plan. While you might have similar surface characteristics with a neighbor, friend or family member, you will undoubtedly have important differences as well over matters such as health care directives, charitable giving, asset protection and asset distribution.
Discuss these matters and more with a qualified Broward County estate planning attorney.