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The Top 5 Estate Planning Mistakes People Make

top-5-estate-planning-mistakes-people-make.jpgIt's a terrible tragedy to see people work hard, scrape and save their whole lives, then just throw away their money - - and their family's future - - when they die. Unfortunately, this happens all of the time!

You may be wondering how this can happen to someone who diligently watches his or her financial affairs and successfully builds a good size estate. It's often just plain lack of knowledge. Think about it...most of our knowledge is acquired through experience. But, few of us have yet to experience the consequences of death (unless someone close to you has passed away and you've been involved in handling his or her estate).

Here are just a handful of some of the most common mistakes that we see people make when it comes to managing their estate while they're alive (and how to avoid them!).

Estate Planning Mistake #5: Being Pennywise and Pound Foolish.

Everyone likes to save money. Lawyers and legal fees can sometimes feel outrageous for what you think is merely a stack of documents. However, estate planning is intended to help you properly protect, distribute and preserve your years of hard work. If you think about how hard you've worked over your lifetime to accumulate your assets, then you can imagine how silly it would seem to simply look for the cheapest and least expensive ways to protect it.

Estate Planning Mistake #4: Not Seeking the Help of an Estate Planning Attorney.

In recent years, there has been an increase in confusing messages about whether or not an attorney is needed. Technically, in California, a legal document preparer could assist you in getting an estate plan in place. There are a number of do-it-yourself and online estate planning services. But, what these things lack are the counseling and legal advice that you will receive when working with an attorney. Estate planning is not always as straightforward and simple as it may have once been. There are a number of strategies and factors that must be considered and only an attorney should be advising you of what's best for you and your family.

Estate Planning Mistake #3: Assuming All Estate Planning Attorneys and Living Trusts Are the Same.

A common mistake that people make is assuming that all estate planning attorneys and the Living Trusts that they provide are the same. Having been in business for over 35 years, we have seen our share of Living Trusts drafted by others (attorneys and non-attorneys). Experience and expertise count for something. In fact, the State Bar of California has created estate planning, trust and probate law a specialty area. Attorneys can be certified with the State Bar in this area of law, which requires an additional exam and on-going education to be maintained by those that wish to keep their specialist certification.

Estate Planning Mistake #2: Not Getting Your Living Trust Reviewed Periodically.

Once you have your Living Trust in place, you are not finished. Not only is it imperative that you properly fund and retitle your assets to ensure that your Living Trust works properly when the time comes, but it is important that you periodically have your Living Trust reviewed. The reason why you want to do this is because you may have changes in your assets, your relationships with those you have named to be in control or to inherit your assets, and even changes in the law and planning techniques. We typically recommend that you have your Living Trust reviewed about every three years to ensure that you maintain a properly up-to-date estate plan. Clients of the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis receive our Free Service Plan, which allows them a free review meeting every three years with an attorney.

Estate Planning Mistake #1: Waiting to Do Any Planning Until "Tomorrow".

One of the biggest mistakes that we see people make is that they put it off until "tomorrow". The problem with putting it off is that you never know when something may happen to you. You could fall ill, disabled, or even pass away in a tragic and unexpected accident. By not doing anything, you may be exposing your family and loved ones to an unnecessary and avoidable process that will result in an expensive and time-consuming legal process known as a Probate, and it may also result in your hard-earned assets being distributed to individuals and in a way that you do not wish these assets to pass down. This mistake can be easily avoided by deciding to do something about your estate planning today.

If you are in the Los Angeles or Orange Counties of Southern California, the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis can help you. We have several offices throughout LA and Orange County and have been around for over 35 years. With several attorneys on staff who are California State Bar Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law, you can be sure to receive the proper care you and your family deserve to prepare your estate planning and provide you peace of mind.

If you would like to schedule a free 90-minute consultation with one of our attorneys, attend one of our upcoming free Living Trust Seminars. You can also contact our main office at 1-800-756-5596. If you are unable to attend an upcoming seminar, please feel free to join our e-mail list and we will be sure to e-mail you of future seminar dates.

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