J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Attorney and CPA

Avoid these estate planning mistakes

The potential for mistakes during estate planning is high. What's more, these errors can happen at any time in the estate planning process. For Florida residents who hope to preserve assets and protect the interests of their loved ones (as well as their own), it is prudent to take certain measures in order to avoid these estate planning mistakes.

The first, most obvious mistake is, quite simple, failing to plan an estate altogether. Though this may seem obvious, many fail to ever in their lifetimes draft a will or living will. Without these documents, a person's end-of-life wishes may forever go unknown, leaving loved ones to argue and quarrel over what one's wishes might have been.

Simply deciding to draft estate planning documents is a good first step, but there are then a number of mistakes that need to be avoided. The first mistake is failing to carefully decide who to designate as durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney. These people are selected to make sure a person's financial and medical wishes, as stated in a will and living will, are carried out according to plan. Not selecting trustworthy people to carry out these tasks can have unfortunate consequences.

Once all the estate planning documents are complete, the job is still not done. Estate plans need to be continually updated so as to reflect a person's current living situation. For example, when people divorce, they generally do not want their exes to be the primary beneficiaries in their estate plans. Without updating the documents, this may never be made known and an ex-spouse may end up being awarded most of a person's estate.

To avoid these mistakes, it is oftentimes necessary to carefully go through each part of the estate planning process with an expert. By avoiding these mistakes, a person can achieve a peace of mind knowing their assets are protected and their health care wishes will be carried out.

Source: 25 CNBC, "The 5 biggest estate-planning blunders," Shelly Schwartz, April 14, 2014

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