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Estate planning pitfalls to avoid in California

It is generally better to avoid problems in the first place rather than having to find a solution to problems once they arise. This is especially true for estate planning in California. Being aware of some of the most common estate planning mistakes can help to sustain one's assets in order to ensure intended beneficiaries receive all of what was intended for them.

One of the most common mistakes in estate planning is to not do any estate planning at all. Some people tend to do this because they feel they do not need it. Usually, these individuals believe they are too young or do not own enough assets worth protecting. However, it is not necessary to be elderly or rich in order to benefit from estate planning.

Another misconception about estate planning is the belief that a will takes care of everything. However, this is far from the case. For instance, some financial accounts will have named beneficiaries attached to the accounts which typically override whatever beneficiaries are listed in one's will. Therefore, it is a good idea to make sure that estate plans are comprehensive and take into consideration more than just a last will and testament. It will be necessary to account for all assets and make certain the proper documentation has been executed in accordance with the wishes of the individual planning his or her estate.

Other important estate planning instruments to consider include trusts, power-of-attorney documents, life insurance and other considerations. However, each situation is different, which means each estate plan must be customized with particular estate planning goals in mind. Understanding the laws surrounding estate administration and having an experienced attorney to assist in the process will be essential in formulating an effective estate planning strategy in California.

Source: consumerreports.org, "6 costly estate-planning minefields, and how to avoid them", April 14, 2015

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