This recent Forbes article 7 Major Errors In Estate Planning is a must read for everyone, and most errors discussed apply to those with estates below $1 million. Items 1 through 3 apply to virtually everyone, while those with large insurance policies, particularly couples with young children, need to consider item 4. Number 7 is something most do without thinking about the potential consequences down the road. I have even asked my parents not to leave their estates outright to me. I would rather have their legacies protected in a carefully drafted trust that I control.
If you have made any of these big mistakes, it's time to visit an estate planning attorney for advice and possibly a new estate plan:
1. "Not having a plan.”
2. “Online or DIY rather than professionals.”
3. “Failure to Review Beneficiary Designations and Titling of Assets.”
4. “Failure to Consider the Estate and Gift Tax Consequences of Life Insurance.”
5. Not “Maximizing annual gifts.”
6. “Failure to Take Advantage of the Estate Tax Exemption in 2012.”
7. “Leaving assets outright to Adult Children.”
While this list is a great start, it certainly doesn't cover all of the issues that should be considered in crafting a comprehensive estate plan.