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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

Estate planning mistakes that are commonly made

Gregory A. Lang

It is always recommended that Minnesota residents put together a plan regarding what they would like to happen to their estate in the event that something happens to them. While a good plan may keep family members from fighting over assets, there are major mistakes that are commonly made when it comes to planning.

Some of the first mistakes deal with who the person names as beneficiaries. When many people take out life-insurance policies or retirement plans, they name beneficiaries for their policies. They then fail to review these policies when writing their will. These policies are separate entities and are controlled by the beneficiary forms. If someone has divorced and wants to update their will to exclude an ex-spouse, they also need to update those beneficiary forms. Additionally, it is always smart to include alternate beneficiaries in the event that something happens to the primary beneficiaries before they inherit any assets.

Another major mistake to make is choosing the wrong person as an executor of the will. For example, if the executor decides to distribute the assets in a way that was not stated in the will, litigation problems can ensue. The same issue can arise when giving someone a health care or financial power of attorney. Many may immediately chose their spouse or close relative, even if that relative does not have the wants of the grantor in mind.

An attorney with experience in wills and trusts may be able to help clients make sure that they have all of their bases covered, including updated beneficiary forms and alternate beneficiaries listed. The attorney can also suggest the appropriate documents that could preserve and protect the client's property.

Source: Investing Daily, "Key Estate Planning Mistakes You Need to Avoid", Bob Carlson, July 24, 2014

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