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Avoiding important estate planning mistakes

A Pennsylvania resident with few assets may figure that there is not really a need for an estate plan. However, this is just one of many errors that could affect the outcome for that person as well as for possible beneficiaries. It is easy to put off estate planning, but the issue should not be ignored. Even with a modest estate, a plan may help in limiting challenges for those expecting to inherit a decedent's assets.

Another common misconception that if a person's financial matters are not complex, no formal plan will be required. Although issues may be simple, a legal estate plan may help in communicating one's wishes so that unintended oversight of certain beneficiaries does not occur. This is especially true if young children might survive a parent. Waiting on establishing an estate plan could be a serious error because a plan may be used to direct financial actions and management needs if an individual becomes incapacitated prior to death. Blended-family issues are important to consider so that second spouses, children from prior marriages, and other relevant concerns may be accounted for.

With more digital holdings in a technology-oriented society, it is important to include these assets in an estate plan so that anything from family photos to digital music can be passed on to heirs. An estate plan may also be used to provide directions for the care of a pet.

Because there are so many issues that could influence one's estate planning choices, it may be helpful to involve an estate planning lawyer in the process. This may allow for the consideration of more obscure assets while also providing for regular reviews and updates to address changed situations.

Source: Forbes, "7 Common Estate-Planning Blunders Not To Make", Sheryl Nance-Nash, September 15, 2014

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