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4 Estate Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

A 2021 study done by estimated that more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) do not have a will. The problem tends to fall into four themes:

1.   Failing to plan.

Individuals need to make thoughtful plans for their assets after their lifetimes and prepare for the possibility of incapacity (see mistake #4). This is especially important for those with large estates, minor and/or special needs children, real estate in multiple states or business interests.

2.   Failing to coordinate beneficiary designations.

Assets, such as life insurance or retirement plans, pass outside of an individual’s will via a beneficiary designation.

3.   Failing to review asset titles.

Asset titling refers to the way in which you own an asset—including in your individual name, jointly with someone else or in a trust or other entity. Assets titled in joint tenancy pass outside an individual’s will and to the surviving joint tenant.

For example: A person’s will might indicate that everything goes to the children equally, but if a bank account is held in joint tenancy with just one child, it would pass only to that child. The result is that the children receive unequal shares when the intention was to divide all assets equally.

4.   Failing to plan for disability or medical emergency.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6.2 million Americans 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Older generations (as well as all competent adults) need to prepare for incapacity and create durable powers of attorney and advance directives or living wills.

Why do these types of mistakes happen?

There are many reasons people may make these mistakes. Most often is that the individual:

  • Doesn’t think they have a large enough estate.
  • Doesn’t like to think about incapacity or death.
  • Didn’t set aside time.
  • Doesn’t know how to start the process and/or doesn’t have an estate planning attorney.

Reach Out to Us

If you are among the majority of Americans who haven’t yet started the estate planning process, now is the time. Your family members and heirs will be glad you did.

You can also use this opportunity to add a charitable component to your estate plan. We would be happy to talk to you about how your gift will make a difference in elevating health and wellness in our mountain communities. Please contact Aaron Ciszek at 970.569.7574 or and Anne Walters at 970.569.7648 or for more information.

You may also visit our Planned Giving website to learn more and sign up for our newsletter.

Information contained herein was accurate at the time of printing. The information in this publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results.

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