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Executing an estate plan? Be wary of these common pitfalls

Regardless of your age, financial status or career, you may be one of many in Arizona who typically choose to avoid discussions pertaining to your own mortality. After all, life is for living, right? Not many people want to spend exorbitant amounts of time talking about their impending deaths. Most would rather focus on the present and the fact that they are alive and well. Some, especially those currently battling chronic illness or other adverse health conditions, may be thinking more about the future and the estate planning process.

As long as you are an adult of sound mind, it is never too soon to begin estate planning, but there may come a time (often unexpectedly) when it would be too late. If an accident were to occur, for instance, that would leave you incapacitated, the time for you to put your own instructions and wishes into writing regarding your assets and estate may have passed. That's why it's best to stay one step ahead of the game when it comes to estate planning.

Common errors to avoid

As you begin laying the groundwork to execute a solid estate plan, you'll want to steer clear of several common pitfalls that could lead to hardship or legal problems for your loved ones in your absence. Such mistakes include:

  • Dying with no final will in place: In the past several years, several stories have made headline news regarding various actors, music performers and other entertainers who died without executing final wills. As made evident by their situations, dying with no final will (or similar estate planning) in place often leads to lengthy probate litigation and family discord, especially if potential beneficiaries disagree about asset entitlement.
  • Putting off until tomorrow what you can do today: It's true that estate planning is a process that needn't be carried out all at once; however, it's generally best to cover as much ground and to be as thorough as possible from the start. That way, you can simply make changes or upgrades in your plan, as needed. Procrastinating may lead to serious complications.
  • Not using objectivity to assign fiduciary duties: You may feel inclined to name those closest to you as trustees, executors or guardians in your estate plan. It's generally best to use as much objectivity as possible when designating who to have serve special roles in your plan, however. It's better to choose someone well suited for a particular duty rather than base your choices solely on emotion or relationships.

These are some of many possible estate planning mistakes that can create trouble. The good news is that as long as you are of sound mind, you typically can modify your existing estate plan as you see fit at any time.

Many Arizonans ask experienced attorneys to review their prospective plans to help iron out any wrinkles and to remain on hand to help with adjustments or upgrades down the line as needed. 

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