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Common Estate Planning Mistakes


Does your estate plan contain any costly mistakes?

Not Avoiding Probate- Assets that go to others through a will must go through the probate process. Probate is costly, time-consuming and a very public process. Depending on the size of the estate to probate, it can cost $5,000 to $25,000 or more in attorney fees. It disrupts the management of estate assets and leaves beneficiaries uncertain when they will receive inheritances and how much they will ultimately receive. It leaves your estate open to public viewing through court filings. I can help you minimize or eliminate the impact of the probate process.

Relying Only Upon A Will- A complete estate plan is more than just a will. A will does not cover assets that are transferred by operation of law such as annuities, life insurance, retirement accounts, jointly-owned property and other property with designated beneficiaries. In addition, a will doesn’t replace a power of attorney and advanced health care directive. With these documents, you give one or more people the power to make decisions regarding your assets or medical care when you can’t. Without these documents, the court must appoint someone for you. That can cost money and take time. Also, doctors may take actions you did not want.

Not Knowing Limitations Of A Power Of Attorney- a power of attorney for property management is a necessary estate planning tool, but there may be more work to do after you execute it. Does it include all the powers you want to delegate to your attorney-in-fact? Some institutions want a copy of the POA in their files before the agent takes authority. Others may want it executed in the last year, that it’s periodically reaffirmed, or that it has certain language.

Other Common Mistakes- it may not be a good idea to leave assets outright to beneficiaries, especially if they have credit problems, marital issues, or substance or gambling problems. Another common problem is not fully funding your living trust. People often forget to transfer title of their assets to the trust. For those with large estates, missing out on the “portability” of a spouse’s tax exemption can be extremely costly. Lastly, leaving a disorganized estate can lead to lost or misplaced assets that can end up in the hands of the State of California.

I can help you avoid very costly estate planning mistakes. Contact me by phone at 415.235.9162 or email at joe@joebartonlaw.com to set up a complimentary estate planning review and consultation. Convenient evening and weekend appointments are available!


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