At Anastasi & Nielsen, we see many families who have found themselves stuck in a difficult situation because of incomplete or invalid estate plans. This can come as unwelcome news when a loved one passes away, and we do not want this to happen to you. We want to discuss the most common pitfalls that need to be avoided when creating an estate plan. If you feel that any of these apply to your specific situation, do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about how we can help you.
Thinking a will is all you need.
A will is the most common item that people think of when they are contemplating estate planning. They may have created one several years or decades ago, and their financial situation may have changed dramatically since then. It is extremely important that you understand that a will may not be the only document you need in your estate plan. An attorney can review your current plan and determine what exactly you must have to ensure that your property avoids the probate process in California. If you only have a will, it is likely that many of your assets will be tied up in probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. You do not want your family to have to deal with those concerns at such a challenging time.
Thinking the will you have is valid.
After any major life change, such as the birth of a new child, a divorce, or the loss of a beneficiary in your estate planning documents, you must be sure to update your plan. This will ensure that the documents accurately reflect your wishes and will prevent additional problems from arising later. Additionally, many people print off forms from websites and use them to create their own wills. You need to realize that these boilerplate forms do not address any of the specifics of your financial situation. If you use these sources to create your will, you may be severely jeopardizing your assets.
Assuming your children will share your assets equally.
Children may have had an uneasy truce when a parent was still alive, but death changes everything. Each child will be looking out for his or her own interests and this may lead one to take advantage of the other. Without carefully explaining what should go to each of your children, there is no way to ensure they will treat each other fairly after you pass away.
Failing to place an age restriction on the inheritance you want to leave to your children.
Sudden wealth can change people. Your responsible son or daughter might be tempted to take the money and spend it in ways you would not approve of, such as taking a long vacation. You can make a declaration in your estate plan that prevents your child from receiving any assets until they have reached a certain age. You may also state that funds must be used to pay for college or other educational expenses. This can ensure that your legacy will be used to help support your child.
How We Can Help You Avoid Estate Planning Problems
To meet with one of our experienced lawyers to discuss your estate planning needs, please call our San Jose office at 408-294-9700 or send us an email using our contact form. We will help you design a plan that not only meets your specific wishes, but also protects your assets from the probate process.