Many people in Tennessee still have no estate plan in place. There is no shortage of reasons why. Attorneys practicing in this area of law have heard them all. They run the gamut from, “I don’t own enough to make a plan,” to “I don’t want to spend the money.”
Regardless of your reason, odds are better than even that it is faulty. The one that might stand the test best is that estate planning is complicated. That can be true, but a skilled legal counsel committed to understanding your unique needs is in the best position to know how to apply the available tools to craft a reasonable plan.
Fear of making a mistake in the plan is something that might prevent many from exploring the benefits of estate planning. But we think most would agree that the biggest mistake of all is to not have any plan at all. At the very least, a will makes sense so that when you die, as you will, you are confident your affairs will be cleared up the way you want.
Assuming you’re convinced, there are a few other estate planning mistakes worth avoiding. They include:
- Failing to update your will once you have one. Major life events can’t all be predicted. Births, deaths or divorces can happen unexpectedly. To be sure your will keeps up with you, commit to reviewing it on a regular basis.
- Believing bad things won’t happen. It’s reported that nearly 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s now. By 2050, that will increase to nearly 14 million. Such long-term disability can be anticipated with proper estate planning, so that your assets continue working for you even if you are incapacitated.
- Including your child’s name on your deed. This gifting of your home to offspring, however well-intended, creates a potential tax obligation for your child. It might be better to plan to pass the home on as a form of inheritance, avoiding the possibility of a gift tax.
- Failing to gift to minimize estate taxes. The IRS allows making nontaxable gifts up to certain maximum levels. If appropriate and properly used, gifting can direct more of your money where you want.
With all that’s at stake, it’s clear that this is not a matter over which to procrastinate.