J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Common estate planning errors involve trusts and executors

Many people in Polk County, and throughout the rest of the country, can easily fall victim to procrastination when it comes to taking care of important things in life. This doesn't necessarily mean that these people are lazy. In many cases, the chaos and pressure of juggling many daily responsibilities just leaves a person with little energy to address anything else.

When it comes to estate planning, procrastination can have costly consequences. People spend their entire lives working hard to take care of themselves and save for valuable resources for themselves and their families. Thus, setting up the proper legal mechanisms to ensure a sensible and efficient distribution of assets should be a priority for anyone who plans to leave their loved ones an inheritance.

In addition to putting off the planning process altogether, many people make other common errors regarding their estate. Failing to use trusts is one of these mistakes. People believe that if they have a will, they don't really need any other planning devices, like trust instruments. However, wills are only designed to divide a person's assets according to their wishes, whereas trusts can determine the way in which those assets are distributed to heirs. For example, if a person wants to leave assets to a young relative, a trust can provide that the heir does not receive those assets until they reach a certain age.

Another common planning mistake involves estate and trust administration. Choosing a responsible and diligent trustee and estate executor is crucial to making sure that the asset distribution runs according to plan. Moreover, an executor or trustee should be someone who is likely to outlive the testator.

Waiting to set up an estate plan is usually not a good idea. Likewise, once a person starts the process, they should do it thoroughly and be sure to use all of the legal tools at their disposal.

Source: CNBC, "Don't drop the ball when planning your estate," Trey Smith, Sep. 13, 2016

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