La'Rae H. Hendrix P.A.

Estate planning through a professional precludes costly mistakes

Florida baby boomers and their nationwide counterparts are currently engaging in a massive transfer of wealth as they pass on their assets to the younger generations. The increase in the lifetime federal estate and gift tax exemption is facilitating that transfer and creating a favorable environment for keeping substantial wealth within the family. However, in a country where more than half of adults don't have a will, the failure to engage in basic estate planning can be a costly miscalculation.

Speaking of wills, not having one and/or a living trust is a mistake that can create a lot of unnecessary heartache and expenses for one's heirs. If that failure is combined with a lack of other instruments, such as a power of attorney and health care proxies, the estate can suffer substantial unnecessary expenses that could have been avoided. These mistakes can lead to a variety of costly procedures, such as having to appoint a guardian to provide for an incapacitated person or to establish one's legal relationship to a deceased person, and so on.

People make numerous other mistakes when they don't engage in estate planning. They may fail to pay attention to the beneficiary designations on their life insurance policies, investment accounts and retirement plans. They may forget that certain property or accounts are jointly-titled and will pass automatically at death to the joint owner instead of through the will. In addition, estate planning is not a "do-it-yourself" enterprise nor can it be simplified to a catchall template. The benefit of using an experienced professional is that all the facts and circumstances will be reviewed, evaluated and included in the calculations.

Florida baby boomers will maximize the return to their heirs by meeting with an estate planning attorney to go over all such matters. Where appropriate, it is also beneficial to have a financial planning expert on board to work in tandem with the attorney. Professional experience and guidance will eliminate potential costly mistakes. The relationship is a continuing one because the plan must be periodically reviewed for updating to the law and to changing facts and circumstances.


Source:, "7 common estate planning disasters and how to avoid them", Michael Feinfeld, April 26, 2018

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