Without detailed knowledge of California estate planning laws and strategies, those who are planning their family's estates could run into serious problems -- problems that are so severe that they could ruin their estate plans completely. Here are a few things people forget when planning their estates that could destroy their estate plans:
Forgetting to include a critical component: Your estate plan should consist of more than just a will. At a bare minimum, you should set up a financial power of attorney and an advanced medical directive in addition to your will.
Forgetting to update your estate plan: You should review your estate planning documents, in addition to any designated beneficiaries and executors at least every 10 years or following a significant life event -- such as a death, a divorce or a birth in the family.
Forgetting to include your personal effects: You have bank accounts, investment accounts, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs in your estate plan, but have you compiled a list of your personal effects like jewelry, art and antiques and decided who will get them when you die?
Forgetting to select a neutral person as trustee of your trust: A trust company, bank or lawyer is a much better choice to serve as trustee than a family member or friend. That's because being a trustee is a massive burden, one that the average person may not fully understand or appreciate. The responsibilities and technical know-how required to serve as a trustee may be over many people's heads.
Be careful when planning your estate and when maintaining your estate plan. The laws are always changing -- and so are your life circumstances. Are you certain that your current estate plan is fully up to date and you have everything set up to ensure your wishes are carried out to the letter after you're gone?
Source: Kiplinger, "8 Signs Your Estate Plan May Be Worthless," Casey Robinson, March 15, 2018