Check Your Estate Plan For These Five Mistakes
Some mistakes can be fixed: Taking a left when you should have taken a right. You just turn around and go back. Some mistakes, however, have a ripple effect, including not planning your estate effectively. At stake are your family's financial future, management of your assets, and the ultimate destination of your prized possessions. When individuals plan their own estates, any number of mistakes could prove to be more than just costly.
1. Automatically Choosing To Leave Your Assets Outright To Your Beneficiaries
It is not uncommon for a will to leave everything to one or more beneficiaries, which sometimes works out fine. Other times, assets you intend for education or other specific purposes may end up being spent in less desirable ways. You can make sure your money is spent your way by using the available planning alternatives, like a trust you set up in your will to ensure that your assets are put to good use.
2. Placing An Estate Management Burden On Beneficiaries
The huge responsibility of managing money may cause an otherwise capable person to mismanage your assets. This may result in large losses for your family. A trust in your will can provide for a professional trustee to manage your assets for your beneficiaries.
3. Assuming That Joint Ownership Will Prevent A Problem
Joint ownership of your assets by right of survivorship may solve some problems while creating others. Joint ownership will keep your assets out of probate and away from its costs, but joint ownership does not determine what your joint owner will do with those assets if you die first. For example, if you want your home or other property to go to your child after your spouse dies, you may have no say in the matter if you should die first. Your spouse may determine that another beneficiary will receive your property. Also, with joint ownership you may be relinquishing your right to dispose of your properties during your lifetime if your co-owner refuses to consent. If this is a concern, you may be better off owning some of your assets individually and letting your will specify exactly who should receive them.
4. Using Just The Marital Deduction For A Large Estate
Leaving all of your assets outright to your spouse will free your estate from federal estate tax, regardless of the size of your estate. But this marital deduction will not save your heirs the estate tax when your spouse dies. Estate taxes on a survivor's estate with taxable assets of over $675,000 (in 2000 and 2001-this amount rises in steps to $1 million for 2006 and beyond) may end up costing your heirs heavily.
5. Failing To Review Your Will And Estate Plans Periodically
Many events should cause you to review your will and estate plan to be sure they continue to accomplish what you want for your beneficiaries. Births, deaths, marriages and property sales or purchases are often reasons to amend your plans. All of these could change your tax situation and/or your strategy for how your family is cared for. Mistakes in your estate plan could prove to be costly for your heirs. A #1 Insurance Quotes Life Disability Insurance representative, working in concert with your other professional advisors, can be instrumental in helping you plan for the best possible financial future for your beneficiaries. Please contact us if you have any questions or are in need of planning assistance.