What is an Estate Plan?

An Estate plan is essentially several legal documents brought together to guide nominated persons through decisions you have made about the end of your life. In specific terms, a Will, a Living Will and a Power of Attorney all need to be incorporated into the Estate plan. Trust documents may also be included in cases where they are needed.

The most detailed document is likely to be your Will. How you would like your assets to be distributed and details of specific gifts you wish to make, should all be mentioned in here. It should also contain details about how you wish to make provision for your funeral expenses and Inheritance Tax payment.

Children under 18 of course need to be provided for, both financially and in terms of appointing guardians. In this instance, the creation of an additional Trust document, may be appropriate.

Living Wills are a newer but valuable addition to the Estate plan. In here, should you become unable to think or communicate clearly at some point in the future, you are able to specify how you would prefer to be looked after and if you would choose for medical staff to prolong your life, should you suffer from a terminal illness or severe injury. Not something any of us enjoy thinking about but nevertheless a very important issue for your loved ones.

Finally, Power of Attorney. Again this document relates to your actual lifetime rather than post-death, and refers to a scenario where you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The Power of Attorney will dedicate a named individual to organise all of your financial and legal dealings.

At first glance, it appears that Estate planning is a long and complicated process, dealing with many issues none of us care to dwell on. However, an experienced probate practitioner and Will Writer will be able to guide you through the whole process relatively quickly, leaving no stone unturned. They will also be able to advise you on the most efficient ways of preparing for your death and dividing your Estate, to minimise Inheritance Tax and other related costs.

Common Estate Planning Mistakes and Tips to Avoid Them – Don’t Lose Your Assets!

Make certain your estate is protected and liability is minimal. Learn these basic steps to be protect your assets and reduce your liability. · Neglecting to provide trust provisions for minor children as beneficiaries of a will.

Not updating your plan when you move to another state or change marital status. Having a will, but neglecting the other important documents such as a durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will and HIPAA authorization.
Expecting that jointly owned bank accounts or other property will automatically pass under the terms of your will. · Not realizing that beneficiary arrangements and designations supersede a will for life insurance and retirement accounts.
Neglecting to update beneficiaries for life insurance and retirement after divorce or death of a beneficiary.
Neglecting to naming successor fiduciaries and personal representatives (executor) in your will or trust.
Not informing your family and personal representative (executor) the physical location of your estate planning documents.
Neglecting to keep your estate plan upgraded and renewed on a timely basis. · Having a living trust, but failing to fund it.
Altering, writing or marking on the original documents in an attempt to change a name or other information without witnesses or proper documentation.
Not seeking proper legal counsel in setting up your estate planning trust or other documents.

These mistakes only apply to those who have attempted to put in place estate planning; most people have made the mistake of not planning at all and are guilty of the error of omission. As with all important decisions, seek competent legal and tax advice. An attorney experienced in estate planning issues can be of great assistance in regards to your personal situation. If possible obtaining a second opinion makes good sense.