7 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

Peter K. HooverMay 11, 2017

Estate Planning

Earlier this week, HFA hosted our first Lunch & Learn event of 2017.  The topic was the 7 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid presented by speaker Douglas Kaune, Esquire. Doug is an estate planning attorney practicing with Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees.  He has been named a “Top Lawyer” by Main Line Today magazine in the Estate Planning and Elder Law Sections and has also been recognized as a leading attorney by Suburban Life Magazine in their Estate Planning and Elder Law Sections. The content he presented included informative and valuable ways to help avoid making crucial estate planning mistakes. The room was full with clients and lots of questions and Doug had plenty of help to offer. For those who missed the event, we have listed the 7 mistakes to avoid below. We are also providing access to a PDF version of the handout Doug reviewed during the presentation – click here to view the entire document. If you have any questions or follow up for Doug, please contact our office (610-651-2777) and we can arrange a meeting. 

  • MISTAKE #1:  You should not assume your adult, capable children and beneficiaries do not need to receive their inheritance in trust.  There is flexible and user-friendly trust planning that can provide an important layer of divorce, creditor and asset protection for your beneficiaries.
  • MISTAKE #2:  Your IRA, 401k and other retirement assets have almost impenetrable asset protection while you are alive.  Unfortunately, these same assets do not carry the same protections once they are inherited by your beneficiaries.  A recent Supreme Court case has changed the way we have to plan for the transfer of our retirement accounts to our children.  There are steps that you can take to provide the protections that your beneficiaries want and often need for their inherited IRAs.
  • MISTAKE #3:  Your planning is not done once you have signed your wills and trusts.  You must properly title assets and structure beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement assets to coordinate with the planning under your documents.
  • MISTAKE #4:  Do not assume your old wills are still in good working order.  For married couples, federal estate tax planning you incorporated under pre-2011 wills/revocable trusts could actually cause unnecessary expense and complication upon the death of the first spouse.  The estate tax laws have changed significantly and your documents might need to be changed too.  Laws change and when they do, your planning documents should change with them.
  • MISTAKE #5:  You should consider naming only one of your children to act as Executor, Trustee and Power of Attorney.  There can be administrative nightmares resulting from too many people acting in these important roles at one time.
  • MISTAKE #6:  Family members are not always best suited to fill the role of Trustee.  A corporate trustee together with a family trust protector might provide a preferred option.
  • MISTAKE #7:  Make sure to review the tax clause under your wills.  Learn how the tax clause works and how you might inadvertently require the wrong people to pay the tax on your estate. 

Be on the lookout for an email invitation to our next Lunch & Learn event in June on College Planning!