When Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passed away in May of 1994, she left behind a clear will that distributed personal items to those closest to her and funneled the rest of her assets into a revocable trust. Though her Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) was ultimately not funded at the request of her children, her estate plan is viewed by many as an example of proper estate planning. Unfortunately, the majority of adults in the United States have failed to follow the former First Lady’s lead. Dangerous estate planning oversights occur all the time, creating multiple problems for beneficiaries and administrators. Being aware of these common oversights will help you protect your own heirs from the far-reaching repercussions of poor estate planning.
No Guardian Appointed
The majority of adults under the age of 65 have no will or estate plan. This can create multiple problems, especially if the adults in question pass away and leave behind minor children. Not appointing a guardian for your children could make it difficult for your loved ones, especially if the ideal guardian for your children is not a legal relative.
In situations in which your closest relative is also the person you want appointed as guardian, things could get complicated if that person lives in another state or is out of town when needed. Your children could find themselves placed in foster care or with another, less desirable, relative. Always take the time to appoint a permanent guardian along with a temporary guardian who can serve as caretaker if the permanent guardian cannot be reached immediately.
Forgetting to Remove Your Ex-Spouse as Executor or Beneficiary
The number of divorces in the United States has steadily increased over the years, creating additional complications when an individual passes away. Once a spouse is named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, bank account, or other asset, simply divorcing them does not automatically negate their status as primary beneficiary. If you forget to remove your spouse as a beneficiary and replace them with a current spouse, partner, or relative, they may still inherit certain assets after you pass away creating significant difficulties for those you leave behind.
Not Properly Completing a Will
Creating a will is an important first step in estate planning, but writing down how you want your assets distributed may not always be enough. Failing to have your will properly witnessed and signed could render the entire document invalid. Never assume that the instructions you find online or that are provided by friends in another state are correct. Doing so could leave those closest to you with no protection and make it hard for them to inherit.
Contact an Attorney
The best way to avoid making a serious mistake is to contact a qualified trust and estate planning attorney. A lawyer who specializes in estate planning can work with you to create a legally binding plan that distributes your assets in a manner that you approve of. The dedicated attorneys at MMZ Law are always ready to answer your questions and provide you with the legal advice you deserve. Contact our Claremont, California office to schedule a consultation today.
BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
MMZ LAW, A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711
MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.
This information is educational information only and not legal advice.