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The 6 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Mar 16, 2022 | 0 Comments

If you’re like most people, you have the best of intentions regarding how you want your estate distributed when you die or your affairs handled should you become incapacitated. Unfortunately, without proper planning, your best intentions may not be enough. Here are six of the most common estate planning mistakes people make: 

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #16: How to Help an Elderly Parent Manage Credit Card Account the Right Way

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Jul 13, 2020 | 1 Comment

Just like it is a bad idea to add yourself (you being the adult child, friend or other helper) to the elder's bank accounts as a co-owner, it is a bad idea to add yourself to the elder's credit card accounts as an "authorized user". That method "works", but there's a downside, which is the elder's credit card account will now appear on YOUR credit report. If they have a high balance compared to the available credit, or just a high balance in general, or a poor payment history, these things could negatively affect YOUR credit score.

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #15: Deed in Safety Deposit Box

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | May 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

Some do-it-yourselfers have tried to transfer real property to another person, to be effective at death, by signing and acknowledging an actual deed but then hide the deed in a desk drawer or safety deposit box to be found when the grantor dies, expecting that the grantee can then take the deed to the recorder's or register of deeds office and record it. This technique does not work . . .

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #12: Making Outright Gifts of Cash (or Cash Equivalents) to Qualify for Medicaid

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Nov 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Some people do only enough research to figure out that you have to be nearly broke to qualify for Medicaid, so when it starts becoming apparent that they are going to need long-term care, they quickly gift things to their children and/or other people, which can result in a long Medicaid penalty period. Unless they are lucky enough to somehow convince the recipients of those past gifts to gift them back to pay for your care, you end up paying for those gifts twice. Even worse, the private pay rate is virtually always higher (a lot higher) than the Medicaid rate, so you end up having to pay out of pocket substantially more than the value of the gifts that you made.

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #10: The "Secret Trust"

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Oct 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

A secret trust is created when an individual entrusts property to another person with the understanding that the second person (let's call him the "trustee") should hold the property for the benefit of a third person (let's call him the "beneficiary"). The problem is, none of this is in writing. It's secret.

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #8: Home Brew Amendments

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Sep 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

Some people have been known to take a perfectly good attorney-prepared estate plan and tinker with it on their own. A classic example is crossing out names and writing in different names by hand. Another example is crossing out a bequest, either because the testator has changed his mind about giving it to a particular person or he no longer owns the item.

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #7: Proscratination

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Sep 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

In order of priority, this mistake really ranks #2 behind DIY Mistake #1: Not Having An Estate Plan, but I had already posted mistakes 2 through 6, so this is going to have to be #7.  Human beings tend to procrastinate when a task they KNOW they need to do seems overwhelming or too expensive or ...

DIY Estate Planning Mistake #3: Relying on Beneficiary Designations

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Sep 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Plenty of my clients use these techniques in addition to their will and their trust(s). They have their place in estate planning as long is the choice is made in an intentional, conscious, educated, and informed manner. The problem is too many people don't think it all the way through, if they think about it at all, usually because they are not aware that they SHOULD think it through better. They don't know what the alternatives are or what questions they should be asking.

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