Legally Speaking: The Big 6 Estate Errors
Failure to plan is emotionally and financially EXPENSIVE to you and your family. Do not allow your Legacy to be damaged by these Errors:
1. No Healthcare Directives
If you suffer an illness or disability without healthcare directives, others will make critical decisions for you, even in violation of your values and beliefs. In some cases, the courts may have to intervene, all at your expense, and family members may be prohibited from any participation in your care.
With Healthcare Directives your desires are honored in documents such as Powers of Attorney, Memorial Instructions, Nominations of Guardian and Conservator, Living Will (end-of-life wishes), HIPAA authorizations, etc. With these in place, there is no question of who is in charge and what actions to take when you cannot speak for yourself.
2. No Financial Directives
“Jim” had dementia and over 6 months he gave $400,000 to unscrupulous charities who called and insisted he send money. Jim could not afford this but didn’t grasp his own vulnerability. Jim’s daughter discovered the fraud and intervened. As his financial agent (POA), she took immediate legal steps to recover most of the money.
Without a Power of Attorney, the daughter would have been delayed by weeks or months in obtaining court-permission to intervene on her dad’s behalf.
3. No Will or Trust
Thoughtful Wealth Transfer should be personalized for you, your family, and your assets. Your plan should account for any circumstance; blended family, disability… Without a Will or Trust, the State of Arizona decides who gets your property.
Failure to plan can cause loved ones to be disinherited while undesirable heirs enjoy your property against your wishes. A Will or Trust will at least establish who inherits, and who is in charge of fulfilling your wishes. If there’s a special-needs heir in your family, failing to plan can be disastrous for their disability benefits.
4. No Protection for your Beneficiaries
If a young person inherits a lot of money, it can result in irresponsible spending, victimization by scammers, not to mention the damage to a loved-one suffering from addiction. Other risks to an inheritance include divorce, lawsuits, loss of disability benefits, or bankruptcy.
Proper Trust-based planning can manage and protect beneficiaries from such risks. A Last Will & Testament does very little to protect from these hazards.
5. Failing to Avoid Probate
Probate is expensive, stressful, and can take years to complete. Probate puts your Will and family information on public display. Probate is virtually guaranteed if do nothing and often causes big fights over “Who Gets What?” and “Who is in Charge?”.
A thoughtful plan will address the details, eliminate ambiguity, and allow for a private transfer of wealth, avoiding the public forum that is our courts.
6. Failure to Update Your Estate Plan
Estate Planning is a Process that takes place over time. Review your Estate Plan regularly, especially following marriages, divorces, deaths, births, and financial shifts. Stay on top of major legal changes by consulting with an attorney.
Like anything of value, regular maintenance to your Estate Plan will save you money and aggravation in the long run, allowing you to…
“Leave a Legacy, Not a Burden!”
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