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  • Writer's pictureMatt Devitt

7 Common Estate Planning Mistakes:

Estate planning, when done correctly and with the assistance of an experienced attorney, is a great way to help your family during difficult times, avoid the expense and time of probate, ensure your assets are disbursed to you wishes, and most importantly helping to maintain family harmony.

Mistake 1: Not Using and Estate Planning Attorney

Building wealth requires decades of early morning and late nights with a lot of hard work in between. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney to help guide you through the complexities of the process helps to ensure that costly mistakes are not made thereby protecting your estate and making sure your wishes are honored.

Mistake 2: Not Communicating with Your Family (Being Too Private)

While discussing your estate plan with your powers of attorney, personal representative, trustee, or family is not an easy conversation. However, an estate plan should not be viewed as a rare artifact that gets tucked away in a safe and never shared.

In order for your plan to be fully be implemented and executed to your exacting wishes, you must be willing to have conversations with the folks that you have named in your powers of attorney (financial and health care), as well as, the folks who will be administering your estate.

Mistake 3: Choosing the Wrong People to Help with Your Estate

Choosing who will manage your finances or health care decisions when you are no longer able to is a big decision. This requires a lot of thought and understanding of who in your inner circle would be best equipped to handle the individual tasks.

Trustworthiness, organization, proximity, and good understanding of finances are generally individuals who would make the best estate planning team. If you do not have implicit trust in the individual today, they are not the right person to appoint.

Mistake 4: Not Updating Your Estate Plan

Estate plans are not like fine wines and do not get better with age. Laws and family circumstances change frequently, and it is important that estate plans are reviewed and updated every 3 to 5 years.

Mistake 5: Not Funding Your Trust

While not every estate plan requires a revocable trust, for those that do trust funding is an important step.

Funding a revocable living trust in technical terms is the process of taking assets that are titled to the individual trustmakers name, or in joint names with others, and retitling them into the name of the trustmakers trust. If this step is not done, assets often times will need to be probated and the wishes of your estate plan are not honored.

A good estate planning attorney will have reviewed each of your assets in great detail and provided an individuated trust planning plan for you.

Mistake 6: Ensuring the Documents are in Place

Many trees are sacrificed during the estate planning process and we do create pages and pages of documents which all have an individual purpose. Some of these documents will be placed in a safe area to only be accessed by our personal representative or trustee after your passing. However, others like a patient advocate form should be provided to your primary healthcare provider immediately.

Also, if your financial power of attorney doesn’t have access to the durable power of attorney after your become incapacitated your child or other family friend may have to go through the difficult and time consuming process of a guardianship proceeding which we hope the judge then makes the right decision for your financial and personal care.

Mistake 7: Procrastination

There will never be the right time to create an estate plan. Time pressures have hit a fevered pitch and it is important to work with estate planning attorneys who understand who the client is. This means look for attorneys who have offer flexible hours, in home visits, and virtual visits. Convenience is the new currency and it is important that your attorney understands that as well.

A bit about usMatt Devitt Law is a full service estate planning law firm located in Livonia, MI. In addition to estate planning we also provide legal counsel for small businesses and off a full suite of real estate legal services as well.

We work with our surrounding communities including Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Novi, Farmington Hills, and beyond. Our focus is on providing pragmatic value based solutions for your estate planning, small business, and real-estate legal needs. Give Matt a call (734) 335-0713 for a free consult. We are also proud to offer full estate planning services virtually when requested.

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