3 Estate Planning Pitfalls

Beware of Pitfalls!

Every year, we see inadvertent mistakes that people make with their estate planning, which is one of the reasons we encourage people to review their plans at least every 3 to 5 years.

A regular review is an opportunity to catch mistakes and discuss changes that need to be made.


Forgetting to name a contingent beneficiary: Estate planning is more than just wills and trusts. Estate planning can be as simple as naming the right beneficiary. Most people name a primary beneficiary to their life insurance or retirement plan but often forget to name a contingent beneficiary. Failing to name a contingent beneficiary can create the need for probate and court involvement and also may lead to an unintended beneficiary of your assets.

Leaving assets directly to a minor: As you likely are aware, a minor cannot legally handle assets. In such a case, who handles the assets? Resolving this issue often requires the need for court involvement but could be avoided with a trust.

Not planning for the death of a beneficiary. Where does the money go when a beneficiary predeceases you? Do you want that beneficiary’s share to be left to his or her children, spouse, your surviving beneficiaries or to someone else? To reflect your intent, this should be defined in writing in your estate plan.

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