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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Top Ten Estate Planning Errors and How to Avoid Them

You need a comprehensive estate plan to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death. However, an estate plan can accomplish much more than simply telling your heirs who should inherit your golf clubs or computer equipment. An estate plan protects your assets from creditors, provides for the needs of your family members, and provides for your care if you become incapacitated.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to understand what an estate plan can do for you and your loved ones. If you have questions about estate planning, call our South Carolina asset-protection lawyers.

Ten Estate Planning Mistakes You Need to Avoid

  1. Failing to develop an estate plan. One of the biggest mistakes is to ignore the need for an estate plan. An estate plan includes more than just a will. Your estate plan can also include documents that protect you and your assets in the event of incapacitation.

  2. Failing to plan for disability. As stated above, a comprehensive estate plan includes plans for dealing with incapacitation. Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Healthcare Directives, and other documents can avoid the need for a judge to appoint a conservator or guardian.

  3. Not Reviewing and Updating Your Will. Certain life events can have a significant impact on your estate plan. You should review your will periodically to ensure that the terms of your will still reflect your current goals and needs. Contact our South Carolina estate planning lawyer to review your will, especially if your family has experienced any births, divorces, marriages, adoptions, or deaths recently.

  4. Putting Your Child’s Name on a Deed to Real Estate. Many parents believe the easiest way to transfer title to real estate to their child without going through probate is to add the child’s name to the deed. However, if the child is a minor when you die, having your child’s name on the deed to your home can raise several issues. For example, a child cannot sign a deed to sell the property or a mortgage secured by the property. You would need the court to appoint a conservator to protect the child’s interests.

  5. Not taking advantage of trust agreements. You can use a variety of trust agreements to protect your property and carry out your wishes for distributing property after your death. You can choose from revocable and irrevocable trusts depending on your needs. Also, you can use a Special Needs Trust to care for a family member who is disabled, a Charitable Trust to donate to charity, and a Pet Trust to provide for a pet’s care and upkeep after your death.

  6. Failing to account for digital assets. Cryptocurrency has become a popular form of online currency that can be confusing for some individuals to account for. Additionally, PayPal and other online companies allow you to have virtual accounts without any paper trail. If you do not include these items in your estate plan so that your heirs know about these assets, the assets could be lost.

  7. Failing to update beneficiary designations. Some assets pass to beneficiaries outside of the probate estate. You need to review your beneficiary designations periodically, especially after a death, birth, divorce, or marriage in your family.

  8. Using an online estate planning or document preparation company. Many of the companies online that offer estate-planning services or document preparation services are not educated in South Carolina probate laws. One small mistake or error could invalidate your entire estate plan. You need a South Carolina estate-planning lawyer to assist you with your estate plan so that you can have the peace of mind your plan is valid pursuant to the state’s probate laws.

  9. Failing to provide a list of logins and passwords to all accounts. Because we now live in a digital world, most of our records and business transactions are conducted online. The person in charge of administering your estate needs a list of all accounts, logins, and passwords. In addition, you can also leave detailed instructions on how to close social media accounts.

  10. Failing to contact your estate-planning attorney during a divorce. If you believe you and your spouse are headed for a divorce, you need to contact our South Carolina estate-planning lawyer to discuss your estate plan. If you were to pass away before changing your estate plan, your spouse could benefit from your estate even though the divorce is complete. It is best to change your estate plan even before the divorce is complete.

Call our South Carolina Estate Planning Lawyers for More Information

Schedule an appointment with one of our estate-planning attorneys. Our South Carolina asset protection lawyers assist clients in developing a comprehensive estate plan that protects their assets and provides for their families.

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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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