Tag Archives: trusts & wills

Estate Planning? Top Mistakes to Avoid

Working on your estate planning can be a draining process, not in the least because of the high emotions involved in preparing for end of life processes. When you’re putting together a will, it’s important to be aware of these top common traps that individuals can fall into if they’re not careful, which could leave some of their assets up to question, or worse- invalidate the entire document. Read on to prepare yourself for willful success.

  1. State of Your State. Each state has its own laws, and those about your estate planning are certainly included. If you have lived in multiple states, and written one will in one location, it won’t necessarily be valid in another. It’s important to know the differences you may encounter before it’s too late.
  2. A Place for Everything. While you may feel inclined to list all of your possessions for distribution, there is no need for certain elements of your wishes to be included in this particular legal document. This includes your wishes for a funeral, life insurance, or joint property, among many others.
  3. Base on Your Business. If you have spent years of your life building up a successful business, it should be important to you to ensure its continued success. If you plan to keep a family company in the family, or if you are a sole proprietor, it is important to explicitly spell out these wishes.
  4. Holes in the Holographs. Writing a will by hand is one technically legal way to state your end of life wishes, but it’s not always the most reliable route. This is known as a ‘holographic will’, and it means that they have specific legal limitations to what can be included, revision rules, and their ability to be verified by witnesses.
  5. Include your life! A living will is just as important as the one which cares for your assets after death. This document is somewhat different, and lays out your wishes for end of life care, including resuscitation and specific treatments. This also can include designating a trusted family member with the power of attorney.
  6. Revise and Renew. Like all important documents, a will should not be a one and done proposition. Revise this document after important periods in your life, including marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or other major financial changes. Regularly work to ensure that your estate planning is up to date.
  7. No Time Like the Present. While it’s not always the most positive conversation to have, it’s important to not wait too long to begin your estate planning. Dying without a will can cause difficulties for your beneficiaries and your assets won’t always go to whom you would have intended.
  8. Give While Alive. There’s nothing saying you need to die destitute, but since you can’t take it with you, you can avoid having your beneficiaries be hit with steep taxes for gifts given after death if you instead give while you are living. You are permitted to give up to $13,000 in gifts untaxed each year.
  9. Death and Taxes. They say nothing’s certain in life except death and taxes, and in the case of wills, both can come at your dependents at the same time. Understanding complicated estate tax laws are vital to making sure all is done properly, especially with gifts as mentioned above.
  10. Don’t Go Alone. For the best services in estate planning, enlist a trusted and experienced attorney. For a consultation with us at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl, PC, give us a call today at 732-422-1000.