Estate planning mistakes are made all the time and usually this is because the financial advisor/accountant/attorney has overlooked important issues. We have chosen to highlight five very common mistakes in this blog series. All of these mistakes are easy to avoid, as long as you and your trusted advisors know how to recognize them!
It is important to also consult with an attorney in your State in order to review whether or not these issues pertain to you. In any case, it is recommended to ask your estate planning attorney what the most common mistakes they encounter on a regular basis are, and bring up these issues with them for discussion.
Mistake 1 – Not having an estate plan.
Many people believe that as long as they hold title as joint tenants that this is all that is necessary. As we know, one of the major issues in many States is to avoid probate. This will obviously vary depending upon your estate, but in most cases, it is a lengthy process to go through probate and often it is wise to avoid it.
Holding title as joint tenants usually avoids probate – but only upon the first death! If, for example, a married couple holds title as joint tenants, and the husband passed away, then the wife would automatically inherit his half. However, in the event that they had three children, and the mother passed away, the children would usually have to go through probate in order to transfer the title of that asset over to them.
I know some advisors recommend their clients to put their children on as joint owners after the husband would pass away. However, this is also a potential problem due to step-up in basis considerations, and very often, liability or control issues!
This is only one of the various common mistakes. Again, please make sure that you consult a competent estate planning attorney to make sure everything in your estate is in order and fits perfectly with your individual situation!
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