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Some pitfalls, considerations regarding wills in estate planning, P.1

Coming up with a well-thought-out estate plan is an important task for everybody, especially those who have children and/or significant assets. For many people, a last will and testament is the basis of a thorough estate plan. Still, just having a will doesn’t necessarily prevent all possibility of problems arising after death.

A recent article in the New York Times looked at this topic, and offered several pieces of advice with respect to wills. For one thing, consider whether it is even desirable to have a will in the first place, or whether it may be better to avoid probate altogether. If it is desirable and feasible to avoid probate, one should come up with a plan to ensure probate avoidance which avoids transferring accounts and assets to children prior to death, as doing so can cause problems. 

Another important point is that estate documents and beneficiary designations should be periodically reviewed and updated. Simply hammering out a will and considering one’s estate plan done will not do. Rather, periodically returning to one’s estate documents and beneficiary designations and ensuring that they still make sense in light of current circumstances and long-term goals will ensure that the plan will achieve its purposes. Reviewing documents is particularly important when major life changes occur, such as births, deaths, divorce, remarriage, and acquisition of major assets.

Another important point about wills is not to leave out certain assets. More and more people are beginning to make provision for digital assets and pets, and this is all the more important when such assets are particularly valuable.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic and how an experienced attorney can help navigate issues surrounding wills. 

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