Common Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Posted by on Mar 23, 2022 in Legal News |

Estate planning is best conducted with the assistance of an attorney, who can help you avoid pitfalls. Still, it is important to know what some of the most common estate planning mistakes are—that way, you can avoid them. Below is a list of ten commonly-seen estate planning errors. 

1. Not Planning 

To kick off this list, we’ll talk about one of the worst mistakes you can make: failing to create an estate plan at all. An estate plan offers protection for you after you die and while you are alive. Not only does it provide you with asset transfer after death, there are other important documents, such as a power of attorney and healthcare directive, that can be extremely valuable in an emergency. 

2. Naming Only One Beneficiary

You always need more than one beneficiary for an asset. This is to safeguard the asset, as what happens if the beneficiary dies before you do? For each policy, account, and asset, you should have a contingent beneficiary that is next in line. Even more ideally, consider listing more one contingent beneficiary. 

3. Forgetting Final Arrangements

Advance-planning what you want to happen for your burial arrangements and funeral is a blessing for people you leave behind. Make sure your wishes for end-of-life care, such as assisted living, hospice, and more are known beforehand as well. It will make things much easier for you relatives. 

4. Not Including POAs

Powers of attorney are necessary protective tools in your estate plan. Commonly, they are seen for finance and healthcare. If you are too incapacitated to make your own financial and/or healthcare decisions, a power of attorney will do this for you. You appoint this trusted individual ahead of time to make these decisions, which will keep you safe even when you’re unwell. 

5. What About Digital Assets? 

Cryptocurrency has become more and more popular, and it is something people forget about when they make estate plans. Make sure these digital assets are included in your estate plan—including keys, passwords, and whatever else your executor needs in order to access them. 

6. Not Discussing Ahead of Time 

One way to minimize family drama is to discuss ahead of time what you’re planning to do with your estate plan. Keeping communication open will ensure that any questions are answered, and relatives who might feel as though the process is unfair or confusing will be able to talk to you about it for peace of mind. After all, it is your estate plan—don’t allow anyone to pressure you into making decisions with which you’re uncomfortable. 

7. Being Overly-Specific

Being overly-specific is another pitfall that a lot of people run into. You might own assets at one time in your life that you don’t own in the future. Are the things you’re putting into your will things that you will definitely have, decades from now? Make sure that whatever you include has lasting potential and longevity. 

8. Neglecting Taxes

Don’t forget—an estate plan can help you minimize your tax burden. Talk to an attorney about ways to minimize and eliminate inheritance and estate taxes (legally, of course).

9. Updating Infrequently

Update your estate plan every three to five years or whenever you experience a major life change (wedding, divorce, new baby, etc.). If you update too infrequently, you run the risk of leaving someone out by mistake or having an estate plan that doesn’t reflect your life situation and goals.

10. Improper Trust Funding 

A trust is a great tool to have in an estate plan, but you have to make sure it is properly funded. Creating the trust is half the battle, the funding is the second part. With your attorney, discuss ways to ensure your trust is properly funded. 

These common mistakes are easy to avoid if you have an attorney. Experienced attorneys will know the pitfalls of estate planning, and they can make sure that you’re being inclusive and sensible when it comes to your plan. Contact WFP today.

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It’s Not About Tricks—Just Efficiency and Smart Decisions

Posted by on Mar 15, 2022 in Legal News |

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Every March 17th, the holiday takes place around the world. Green beer, funky accessories, and a lot of partying and parades are the most common ways that people tip their hat to St. Patrick. Leprechauns might play tricks, but, when it comes to keeping family drama out of your estate plan, you’ll need no such thing. 

It’s no secret that families fight, and will contests aren’t uncommon. However, with these tips and non-tricks, you’ll be able to avoid that unpleasantness. There’s no need to pull a leprechaun-esque trick on your family to keep them calm. All you need is efficiency, a good lawyer, and a solid plan. 

What is a Will Contest? 

Rules vary from state to state. In Florida, probate begins when the will is submitted to the local county court. The court used is the one where the individual resided at the time of death. After the will has been filed, creditors and beneficiaries must be notified. After they have been given notice, they have ninety dates to challenge the will. 

There are a few grounds on which someone can contest a will: these include influence, coercion, fraud, and other legal grounds. To contest, someone files a petition in the court where the probate of the will is taking place. The petition requests that the court invalidate or revoke the will because of the stated legal grounds. 

Who Usually Brings Will Contests? 

Generally, it is a wronged family member who usually contests wills. Don’t get us wrong—fraud, coercion, and other valid legal grounds do exist, and, if there has been wrongdoing, it is important that it is stopped and sorted out. But, in situations where a will challenge is not quite so sincere, sometimes it is a family member who feels shorted or left out who mounts this petition.

Will Your Family Have This Drama? 

You know your family better than we do. Maybe you have a son or daughter who feels entitled to something that they don’t deserve. Perhaps a relative thinks they should be your POA for finances, even though they have a reputation for overspending. Every family has its issues, and you can talk to your family about your estate plan to determine who could potentially challenge the will.

Tips for Avoiding Family Strife When Estate Planning 

Though no steps are foolproof, there are ways to avoid family strife when you are estate-planning. These steps provide you with a good opportunity to keep the drama to a minimum, and it is the third of the three that is most important. 

Create an Overview to Share 

Keeping everyone in the dark certainly won’t help matters. You should create an overview document of your estate plan to offer your loved ones clarity. This document, which can include information on your assets and the different tools in your estate plan toolbox, will help your proposed executor understand your estate. The transparency can also help family members who may feel as though the inheritance process is unfair or confusing. Letting people know what you’re doing and your reasoning ensures there are no secrets. 


Keeping the communication lines open will also be a great assist. Meet with family members who have a role in your estate plan and ensure that they know what is contained and how they will be impacted. It is also important to converse with people who you have left out (or, if you cannot do that for some reason, someone close to them). These conversations may be difficult to have, if not a bit awkward, but they will help you keep drama at bay.


Hire A Lawyer 

One thing about estate planning attorneys is that this is not their first rodeo. They know that estate planning can be an emotional and complicated process, and they have likely seen this drama play out time and again. Hiring a lawyer will not only insure that the documents are legally-sound, but the attorney can also help you avoid common pitfalls, act as a sounding board, and even have some of those hard conversations with your family. 

This article might have intimidated you, as it discusses a topic that a lot of us are uncomfortable with: family drama. However, it’s best to brave this issue head-on and not allow it to affect your estate plan. Call WFP today and schedule an appointment. 

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International Women’s Day: How Are You Protecting the Women in Your Life?

Posted by on Mar 7, 2022 in Legal News |

Every March 8th, people come together to celebrate International Women’s Day, which is a holiday that recognizes the achievements of women in history (and today). It has us thinking—how are you protecting the women in your life? Our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and more deserve to have the best legal protection they can. One way you can show appreciation is to help them set up an estate plan. Below are just a few of the many ways that an estate plan can protect you.

Gives You Agency, Even After You Die 

Though the question of what happens after death is a complicated one, estate plans provide at least one part of the answer. These plans are best-known for helping you determine where your assets will go after you die. With documents like will, trust, and more, you can decide what happens to your things after you die (or perhaps even sooner, if you choose a will).

The consequences of not having at least this mechanism in place can be dire. If someone dies intestate with no will, her estate will be divided up by probate court. Probate courts want to settle debt—assets that she might have wanted to go to family could be liquidated to pay off creditors, leaving the family entirely. 

Can Minimize Taxes 

As estate planning is about protecting loved ones, this includes keeping them from getting a huge tax bite from the IRS. When you estate-plan, you transfer assets to heirs, keeping in mind that you want to create the smallest-possible burden for them, as far as taxes go.

Even a small amount of estate planning can help you reduce much—or, if you’re lucky, even all—of their state and federal estate taxes, as well as their state inheritance taxes. There are ways to decrease tax beneficiaries’ income tax, and, without an estate plan in place, you could end up owing good ol’ Uncle Sam quite a bit.

Will Help Your Kids 

We’ve talked about asset transfer and tax shielding, but, if your kids are young, an estate plan can help them in another way. While estate plans have a reputation for being all about the last will and testament, in reality, they are so much more. One document commonly seen in an estate plan is guardianship papers. 

If you have young kids, use these documents to appoint a guardian for them in the event that something happens to you and your spouse. You can choose a trusted relative or close friend for this position, though you should make sure that you speak with them first before putting the paperwork in place. 

Will Protect You, Even When Incapacitated

Most peoples’ worst nightmare is being so sick that they’re stuck in a hospital for days at a time, if not longer. Sadly, these situations happen, and, if you have an estate plan in place, you can keep your finances and healthcare decisions the same as if you were in tip-top shape.

Documents such as a healthcare directive and power of attorney will allow you to make decisions for yourself, either ahead of time or through a trusted proxy. These types of documents are especially important if you are ill already or suffer from preexisting health complications. 

Helps Avoid Tricky Family Situations

Ah, families. They’re wonderful in so many ways, but every family has drama, at least to some extent. Some of that drama can spill over after you die. Estate plans stop fights before they can begin, as they let you pick who controls your finances (power of attorney) or who gets your things after you die. Though will challenges are not unheard of, an estate plan, when properly prepared, should be impervious to those. 

An estate plan can offer great protection to people who need it. If this sounds like something you want for your female relatives, bring them in for a consultation with an estate planning attorney. This attorney can help guide them on what their estate plan should entail.

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