Wish you could go back in time to last Friday and pick VCU to upset Kansas?  How about going back a full month and picking UConn to win the whole thing?  Well, until Peabody is able to come over and set the Wayback Machine, we are not able to go back in time and correct our mistakes.  Losing in your March Madness Bracket Tournament is nothing in comparison to the mistakes I see every day in poorly drafted, poorly executed, and poorly funded estate plans.  

Top 10 Estate Planning Mistakes

  1. Leaving the Living Trust Unfunded: A living trust is merely a vehicle that allows you to pass your assets outside of probate.  However, if there are no assets in the trust, nothing has been accomplished.  You can buy the most expensive safe at the store but it wont protect your valuables unless you put the valuables into the safe. 
  2. Putting Your Children’s Names on Your Deed: These property will be subject to capital gains taxes when the beneficiary attempts to sell it.
  3. Leaving Assets Outright to Beneficiaries: Assets that are left outright to heirs and beneficiaries are exposed to creditors, predators and divorcing spouses. 
  4. Not Having a Living Will:  A living will gives guidelines for your physician to follow in the event you are in a terminal, end-stage, and persistent vegetative state. 
  5. Owning Life Insurance in Your Name: Many people are not aware that the death benefit of an insurance policy, owned by the insured is included in their taxable estate. 
  6. Not Communicating with Trustees and Beneficiaries:  It is important to let the people who are named in your estate plan know what role you are asking them to play. 
  7. Not Knowing Where All the Assets Are: A scattered estate plan by a secretive decedent may cause some assets to be left uncollected, undistributed and even lost.
  8. Not Updating Your Estate Plan:  It is imperative that your estate plan is reviewed on an annual basis to avoid unintended results. 
  9. Drafting Your Own Estate Plan:  There are so many moving parts with a trust-based estate plan that attempting to do it yourself is the equivalent of trying to take your own appendix out.  There are legal requirements in drafting, executing, funding, and updating.  If you miss any of them, it could invalidate your entire plan.  An estate planning attorney doesn’t sell you documents, they provide the service that goes into making sure that those documents are correct.
  10. Thinking That You Have Plenty Of Time To Get To It:  No one has a crystal ball and tomorrow is not promised to any of us.  I have clients that have hired me to draft their estate plan and then they died prior to being able to sign it or fund it.  There are other people who die too young to even sit with the attorney.  Estate planning is necessary for everyone and you should sit with your attorney as soon in life as possible.

Failing to visit your estate planning attorney to get a comprehensive estate plan in place could lead to your family’s financial bracket being completely busted.  For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?