The average adult understands the importance of creating an estate plan according to the laws of their state. Without a correctly executed will there is no guarantee that your beneficiaries will receive the assets you want them to have. However, even a person who has spent years planning and updating their plan can make mistakes that can keep their heirs in court indefinitely. When Michael Jackson passed away in 2009, he left a complete estate plan that included a will and a revocable living trust. Unfortunately, errors within the legal documents and disputes with executors have led to years of litigation with no end in sight. One omission or mistake can create years of legal struggle for your heirs during their time of grief.

Failing to Name or Update Primary Beneficiaries

Certain assets such as an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) should have beneficiaries designated to ensure smooth asset transfers after the account holder has passed away. This form of distribution protects the tax advantages associated with certain accounts and ensures that your assets are left to the correct person. Failing to name a beneficiary could lead to the estate itself becoming the beneficiary by default, making distribution more complicated. Alternatively, failing to update your documented beneficiary within your retirement plan can create a situation where your will and account documents contradict each other.

Missing Documents

California probate court has certain requirements that are meant to reduce the time an estate spends in probate. Failing to organize your estate plan could create a situation in which your executor does not have the documents required by the probate court. Missing documents can severely impact your heirs by extending their time spent in probate court, especially since the court has no obligation to provide help or instructions to your executor. An estate can end up in probate limbo for months before the executor even realizes that a problem has occurred.

Failing to Consider Debts

When you pass away, it does not mean that your creditors are no longer able to receive compensation for your debts. During the estate planning process, you must ensure that your estate has the ability to pay your debts without causing serious harm to your heirs. Not planning for the compensation of creditors creates many problems including an estate that has assets that are difficult to liquidate or transfer. Additionally, not clearly outlining your debts could lead to a situation in which your executor is paying unnecessary fees, creditor claims, etc.

Secure Legal Assistance

Once your attorney has helped you establish an estate plan, it is wise to make arrangements for him or her to continue assisting your heirs in the future. A qualified probate attorney can help your beneficiaries overcome most major probate problems and offer legal advice when probate issues occur. MMZ Law is ready to help you and your family at each stage of the estate planning and inheritance process. With an office conveniently located in Claremont, California you were available to discuss your unique needs, so call us today and schedule a private consultation.



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.