McDonald Warner - Probate, Elder Law, & Special Needs

Common mistakes in estate planning

Arizona residents should take steps to avoid certain mistakes when developing their estate plans. Situations in which people pass away with inadequate estate plans can lead to conflicts among remaining loved ones that have to be resolved in court.

Not providing enough information in an estate plan is a common mistake. One should provide their executor and surviving loved ones with an updated and comprehensive list of their assets and how to access them. The list should include access information such as passwords and usernames for bank accounts, mutual fund holdings, brokerage accounts and more.

Another estate planning issue that can cause complications is not having beneficiaries specified. If there are no beneficiaries listed for annuity contracts, insurance policies or retirement accounts, it may be necessary for surviving loved ones to go court to see to it that the wishes of the decedent are honored.

In some cases, simply stating in a will that someone is to receive an asset, such as a mutual fund, is not enough. For the intended beneficiaries to receive certain assets without any hassles, their names have to be listed with the fund company or on the policy.

It's also very important to make sure that estate plans are regularly reviewed and updated. Many life events, such as divorce, can change a person's preferences regarding where assets should go.

An attorney who practices estate planning law may assess the assets and goals of a client before recommending which legal devices should be used. In addition, clients could be advised of the necessity of using living wills as well as health care and financial powers of attorney.

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