Important Texas Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid [Part II]

This is Part II of our two-part blog covering key estate planning mistakes that you should avoid to ensure that you obtain the maximum benefit and protection from your estate plan. While we have provided general information about errors committed by many people, the best way to obtain specific information about you unique circumstances is to speak with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney.

Stay away from amateurs.

There are some non-professionals that refer to their business as a “paralegal document preparation service” or “typing service.” People should be very cautious about relying on such services unless they confirm that the person providing the services is a licensed Texas estate planning attorney. Estate planning is one of the most complex areas of law so relying on a non-attorney to handle your estate planning needs is extremely risky. While a nurse practitioner may be excellent at what he or she does, you may not want this person to perform your triple bypass cardiac surgery. Given the high stakes for you and your family when setting up an estate plan, the decision to rely on someone who is not a licensed attorney with legal malpractice insurance is equally ill advised. Many people who attempt to use this type of “cost cutting” strategy make devastating mistakes like failing to fund their trust.

Provide a treasure map.

If you prepare a notebook that lists all of your assets and provides the critical financial information that a trustee or administrator of your estate will need, this can make the process of handling your estate upon death more efficient and less costly. There are many assets that you may not even remember that you have like a small life insurance policy from an employer you worked for many years ago. If you keep all of your title documents, retirement account statements, bank account records and similar documents with a list of assets and current values updated you will make administration of your estate less costly and more efficient for your family.

Make sure to get periodic estate planning “checkups.”

Many people prepare a will and durable power of attorney when they are in their thirties and presume that their estate planning is handled. However, there are many events in one’s life that will trigger the need to review your estate plan and update your documents. These may include the birth of children or grandchildren, your divorce or remarriage, divorce of a child, retirement from your business or occupation and many other major life changes. There are also frequent changes in the law that can impact your estate plan so it is important to periodically contact your Texas estate planning attorney to determine if you need to make any revisions to your estate planning instruments.

Review your insurance beneficiary designations.

Some of your assets will not pass via your living trust or a will in probate court. Certain assets like your home may pass according to the title if you own it in “joint tenancy,” which is true for many marital partners. Similarly, some assets like insurance policies will include a place to designate a beneficiary, and this designation will determine who receives the proceeds under the insurance policy. These designations should be reviewed periodically especially in certain situation, which include but are not limited to the death of a spouse, divorce and remarriage.

At our Arlington estate planning law firm, Thomas D. Reino carefully evaluates your estate to create an estate plan that is appropriate for your specific situation. If you have questions or need estate planning documents prepared, we invite you to contact us at 817.303.2133 or send us an email at tom@tomreinolaw.com so that you can set up an initial consultation.

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