5 Common Estate Planning Errors In California

On behalf of Louis Pacella, Attorney at Law posted in Wills on Thursday, June 6, 2013

People in Southern California want their estate plan to reflect their wishes and be executed smoothly and with minimal costs when the time comes. But despite their best intentions, there are mistakes that are commonly made in creating a will or trust that can lead to family strife later on.

Though not every change in circumstances or conflict is foreseeable, most errors that can lead to an unwanted result are fixable. Here are some common estate planning errors too many people make:

  • Forgetting important documents. Besides the will or trust, you may need asset ownership forms, beneficiary designation and medical directives. Omission of any of these may cause disputes after you die.
  • Not keeping beneficiaries up to date. Besides the estate planning instruments, many people have accounts such as a retirement plan or life insurance policy that names a beneficiary. But if you forget to change the beneficiary after a divorce or falling-out, he or she could still the named beneficiary when it comes time to pay out.
  • Keeping the documents too secure. Obviously, these important papers need to be kept in a safe place, but you do not want them to be impossible to find or they may not be honored. One option is to store them online with an Internet document storage service. They let you upload your will and trust in PDF form and keep them secure.
  • Leaving the revocable living trust empty. A revocable living trust can be a great tool to avoid probate and enjoy other benefits, but you actually have to move assets into the trust for it to work. Seems obvious, but some people never get around to actually filling out the paperwork.

Source: LifeHealthPro, “10 steps for avoiding estate planning mistakes,” Ed McCarthy, June 6, 2013