Estate planning can be complicated, and it’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes with their plans. But financial advisors make errors, too, so here are the most common mistakes we have encountered from other financial and estate planners.

1. Improper beneficiary designations

I frequently see advisors improperly completing beneficiary designations. Examples: not changing the beneficiary due to divorce or a death, or listing a special needs child or grandchild directly as a beneficiary, rather than a trust FBO (for benefit of), thereby affecting their eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

2. Not changing asset titles to trusts

Incorporating revocable living trusts into a client’s estate plan but forgetting to update all the account titling to the name of the trust. Not changing titles creates problems that include having to pay additional probate costs, losing the private nature of settling the estate, etc.

3. Incorrectly assuming clients’ goals

Many advisors assume a client’s main goal is to save estate taxes, for example. However, when really connecting with a client, we might find that taxes are only a small aspect of their objectives. Sometimes, in listening to the client, we realize that their fears are more about their heirs’ ability to manage the inheritance as well as decisions such as trustees, etc.

4. Naming minor children as account beneficiaries

Letting clients name minor children outright as primary or contingent beneficiaries of life insurance or retirement plans. When minor children inherit, a court must appoint a guardian who must be bonded and must file a laborious annual accounting with the local court.

5. Wrong choice of executors and trustees

Naming a financial institution as successor executor/trustee after surviving spouse or instead of surviving spouse. In some cases, this is to the detriment of the spouse and other beneficiaries because large institutions usually follow their fiduciary responsibilities with a less personable approach than another trustee could provide.

6. Failure to address medical directives

Many attorneys will draft a health-care power of attorney (POA) and living will. If the two documents co-exist, they may conflict since the POA allows another to make decisions while the living will already states what is to be done. Absent statutory (or document) direction, health-care providers may experience a conflict in what to do.

7. Ignoring state estate and inheritance taxes

Many states follow the federal $5 million-plus exemption for taxable estates, but the states do not always exempt this larger amount. For example, in Massachusetts, estates over $1,000,000 that are not left to the surviving spouse are subject to a Massachusetts estate tax.

8. Failure to address asset protection

Most couples fear losing their assets to nursing homes. For couples nearing retirement, strategies that protect assets should be explored. Strategies include lifetime credit shelter trusts, life estate deeds, gifting and other techniques that make assets available for use but beyond the reach of creditors.

We have a great FREE guide entitled “Planning Your Estate”. Please feel free to request it here and we will send you a copy right away!

Wrentham, Norfolk, Plainville, Franklin, Walpole, income tax, tax calculator, hr, irs forms, Jackson Hewitt, tax, tax act, tax return, tax brackets, income tax return, tax refund, taxes, accountant, h&r, tax return calculator, tax forms, free tax filing, federal income tax, federal tax forms, federal tax return, tax online, tax returns, online tax return, irs e file, tax return status, file taxes online, tax preparation, income tax return online, instant tax services, accountants, income tax filing, income tax forms, federal tax, estimate tax return, taxes online, online tax filing, tax services, federal taxes, what is income tax, tax filing, tax questions, online tax, e filing income tax, irs free file, free tax preparation, filing taxes, file taxes, state taxes, tax accountant, h and r, tax planning, free tax return, free federal tax filing, online taxes, free state tax filing, free online tax filing, federal income tax forms, tax help, free tax, how to file taxes, tax preparer, tax consultant, free taxes, income tax returns, complete tax, federal tax forms, free taxes online, income taxes, income tax return efiling, free efile, h&r, tax advisor, tax advice, best place to do taxes in wrentham, wrentham tax, wrentham tax planner, wrentham tax prep, wrentham income, wrentham income tax, wrentham accountant, wrentham accounting