Three estate-planning mistakes

Three estate-planning mistakes

C.D. MORIARTY recently published an article in MarketWatch regarding three estate planning mistakes people can make. The three mistakes are:

  1. Having no will. Or having one written in another state .
  2. Confusing estate taxes with probate
  3. Ignoring easy ways to keep some assets out of probate

The author says that a stunning 60% of adults in the U.S. have no will or estate plan. Even more have a will that needs to be updated.

The author says, even if your estate is too small to be subject to federal estate tax (less than $11.58 million), you still will be subject to probate. In Washington state, the estate tax is imposed on probate assets over just a little more than $2 million. The bottom line, he concludes, is that you still need an estate plan.

The article also points out the streamlined probate process for small estates. In Washington, probates of less than $100,000 that contain no real property, can be adjudicated with the small estate process. You can prepare for this several ways.

  1. Modify the way in which you own your real property. Put your property in trusts or LLC's. You can also use joint tenancies with the right of survivorship, transfer on death deeds, and other similar deed's.
  2. Ensure your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other financial assets have a "payable on death beneficiary" (POD). This ensures that your financial resources go directly to the beneficiaries and do not get tied up in probate.
  3. Ensure you have your life insurance beneficiaries updated.

It's an interesting article that is worth a read, so click here to check it out.