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Dust off your Estate Plan to Avoid these Common Mistakes

There is no time like the present to check out where your estate plan stands, and how Milwaukee estate planning attorneys can help you avoid headaches or misunderstandings down the line.

You might be thinking that you already have an estate plan or at least a will so you are all set but if it’s been more than five years most likely one of the following common mistakes could impact your estate plan’s ability to work in the way you intend.

woman discussing estate plan to the old couple

How Often Should you Update Your Estate Plan
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 #1: Forgetting to Update Your Current Residency

If you have moved in the last few years, you need to take some time to update this information in your estate plan. It needs to be clear which state or country you are a resident of, and with the law varying from state to state this can often have other implications to how your estate plan functions that are worth having an attorney review.

#2: Destroying Old Documents

estate planThere is absolutely no reason to hold on to out-of-date copies of documents. You can start to confuse yourself and others when there are multiple versions of documents. Often your attorney will maintain a copy of your estate plan but always be sure to keep one for yourself and in a location that others can access. This is critically important for health care power of attorneys. Providing a copy of your health care POA to your medical provider can often also save headaches and critical time in a medical emergency.

#3 Not Discussing your Wishes with Loved Ones

You may have spoke with your family about who was going to take care of your children 6 years ago but now you have changed your mind and asked a different family member to be the guardian, but the previous person still thought they were going to be. Or maybe Grandma told you she wanted you to have her wedding ring but her will says someone else. Having these important discussions on a periodic basis will save a lot of stress and potential legal battles. We recommend have family meetings, and a trusted attorney can often even facilitate this discussion for your family.

family meeting

What is a Family Meeting
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#4: Not Reviewing Assets

Are you aware of how many assets you have and how you intend to distribute them when the time comes? As you have likely changed employers over the last 5 years you might have 401Ks or other retirement assets held at various places. Also, not all assets are created equal. Some pass on without taxes, but others may have tax implications. Transferring assets while you are still living might be worth considering in some situations. You also want to understand the financial situation of the person you are planning to transfer assets to. If they are receiving any financial assistance or going through any legal proceedings, you could unintentionally make your estate gift a burden for them.

 

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#5: Not Updating Beneficiaries 

One of the common mistakes that we see at the McLario Law Firm is changes to beneficiaries. You named a family friend to be your child’s guardian but haven’t talked with that person in years, or you have an ex-spouse still listed as the beneficiary on your bank account. Certain assets like life insurance pass outside of your estate solely based on the named beneficiary.  The named beneficiary will trump anything you have expressed in your will so it’s important to ensure documents are consistent and up to date.

Estate Planning Beneficiary Check-Up

 

If you have reviewed each of these five areas and everything still looks correct congratulations on taking the first step towards greater peach of mind. Next it is recommended that you have an expert review your documents to ensure that the law in general hasn’t changed and because in some jurisdiction’s documents more than about 5-7 years old are often open to more potential legal challenges. Save your loved one’s additional time, money, and heartaches by consulting with an expert today. It doesn’t have to be hard, but you do have to get started. Now is the time!

colored cubes formed into a house with stairs

3 Steps of Estate Planning
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