Estate Planning Do’s and Don’ts
Estate planning is important.
Estate planning is complicated.
Estate planning is difficult.
Estate planning takes time and careful consideration.
At KLG Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys, we understand that the task of preparing a comprehensive estate plan can feel incredibly daunting. Our mission has always been to make that process as easy as possible. Here are the top three Estate Planning Do’s and the top three Estate Planning Don’ts to get you started on this critical task:
Top 3 Estate Planning Do’s
- Seek out and engage the services of an experienced estate planning attorney. Of course, we’re biased here. However, we believe that creating an estate plan that serves as you intended is an often underestimated, but incredibly complex task. Our legal team consists of experts with years of experience and know-how. We help clients develop and modify solid estate plans year after year.
- Update your estate plan after major life changes. Don’t allow your well-built estate plan to stagnate. If you experience a major life event like divorce, a new child or the death of a named beneficiary, you need to revisit and potentially revise your estate plan. Don’t make the mistake of putting this off. Keep your estate plan up-to-date.
- Carefully consider who you select to be your estate’s Personal Representative. Your personal representative will have a lot of responsibility thrust upon them after your death. Making a poor choice like selecting someone who struggles with financial decisions, is not reasonable or doesn’t understand their role and responsibilities can have catastrophic impacts on your estate. If you don’t have a family member or close friend you trust to fulfill this role, you also have the option to select an independent third party. Remember, your primary goal is to protect your estate, not placate family members.
Top 3 Estate Planning Don’ts
- Create a trust, but don’t fund it. Funding a trust involves transitioning the ownership of assets to the trust or a designated beneficiary. Only if a trust is properly funded will it be allowed to avoid the probate process after your death and avoid estate taxes (if it was designed to do so). If you worked with an experienced estate attorney to create your trust, they can help provide guidance on how to fund your trust in adherence with the objectives of your estate plan.
- Name your minor children as beneficiaries. Naming a minor child as a beneficiary may seem like the right thing, but it actually creates quite a mess. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a minor (anyone under the age of 18) is not legally allowed to own an asset. Because of this stipulation, a conservator would then need to be appointed to receive the asset or property on behalf of your child. That’s likely not what you would have intended, and the financial implications of the process can be devastating. Instead, consider placing your assets in a trust for your minor children.
- Assume the co-fiduciaries you name will get along. Dealing with the death or serious illness of a parent can be a heavyweight on a child. If you’ve selected multiple children to handle your estate or serve as your power of attorney, you might be creating an even heavier weight to bear. Are your children able to work together effectively, even in difficult times? Consider this question carefully. If they ultimately can’t work together, they’ll end up costing your estate more and taking longer than necessary to fulfill their responsibilities.
Contact our team at KLG Estate Planning & Probate Attorneys. We can help you navigate these top three Do’s and avoid the top three Don’ts as you create your comprehensive estate plan.