The most common estate planning mistake may surprise you. “The mistake actually isn’t part of the will and trust,” said Dan Prebish, head of life services events at Wells Fargo Advisors, based in St. Louis. “It actually has to do with beneficiary designation.” Prebish said people sometimes fail to designate who will gain control of various assets upon one’s death. “It’s not uncommon to find that someone still had their ex-spouse named,” as the one to receive control of the asset, he added.
According to thestreet.com’s article, “How to Avoid the Most Common Estate Planning Mistake,” addressing and fixing one of the most common estate planning mistakes is relatively simple.
When you change the beneficiary on a retirement account, the update can be as easy as filling out a form. But it’s the communication with your heirs that’s key, especially since estate planning isn’t the most enjoyable topic to discuss.
Surprises are what cause hurt feelings and even litigation. As a result, you need to figure out a way to explain the estate planning changes to your children or heirs. The starting point to any successful estate plan is a will, which is a legal document that details which heirs are to receive which assets or properties you own.
Online programs can be helpful, but user error is typically how things go wrong when drafting wills without the help of an attorney.
Another factor is taxes. A person who has a total estate of less than $5.45 million in 2016 won’t pay any federal estate tax, but above that, it’s a 40% flat rate (the threshold for the federal estate tax was raised a bit for 2016 from $5.43 million in 2015.).
All the same, federal estate taxes generally won’t be a concern for most Americans because one would need an estate worth over $5.45 million in order for the federal estate tax to apply.
Each of us has a lifetime exemption up to that threshold. However, you should keep in mind that individual states have different thresholds. For example, some states have thresholds that are only in the six figures, which may affect more people.
Talk to a qualified elder law attorney to draft your comprehensive estate plan. Don’t be tempted to go to the Internet and try it yourself.
Reference: thestreet.com (October 31, 2015) “How to Avoid the Most Common Estate Planning Mistake”
“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”
Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.
The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!
I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.
Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.