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Top 5 Estate Planning Mistakes California Families Make

Estate planning is one of the most important steps individuals and families should take to ensure that their loved ones and assets are protected. Creating a comprehensive estate plan requires extensive knowledge of related laws and legal documents. It’s not uncommon for families to make estate planning mistakes without the proper legal guidance. To help you during your estate planning preparations, our team at Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP has put together a list of California families' top five estate planning mistakes.

Get more information about protecting your family’s estate plan in our webinar below!

#1: Not Creating a Comprehensive Estate Plan

A recent study shows that 68 percent of Americans don’t have wills or estate plans. However, even if you already have a will in place, it’s not enough to protect your assets and future generations. If you don’t have an estate plan, family or loved ones will need to go to court to get a conservatorship if you need help after an unexpected accident or illness. If you pass away, assets will be stuck in probate. Thankfully, all this can be avoided with proper planning.

You can avoid this mistake by having these documents in your estate plan:

  • Revocable living trust

  • Durable power of attorney

  • Advanced health care directive

  • Family protection trusts

#2: Not Reviewing or Upgrading their Estate Plan

Another mistake many families make is failing to update or review their estate plans. Estate plans should be updated when there are new laws in place that can affect your estate. It should also be revisited every time you experience a major life event, like having a newborn child, moving to a new state, or obtaining significant funds.

You can avoid this mistake by reviewing your estate plan at least once every five years with an experienced estate planning attorney or when your situation or laws change, whichever is sooner.

#3: Not Including Documents that Protect Assets

If you’re worried about future estate taxes, children or grandchildren with special needs, or your child’s inability to protect your hard-earned assets, there are steps you can take to get peace of mind. Many families think that the obvious option is to leave assets to their children –however, this is a big mistake.

You can avoid your children mismanaging your assets by setting up a trust and having a third-party trustee oversee assets for your child, especially if they have special needs.

#4: Not Addressing Property & Estate Tax Issues

Families who own a home in California often fail to address property and estate taxes in their estate plan. With Prop 19, your children will likely face a massive increase in property taxes when you pass. Plus, Prop 13 and 58 protections are gone.

You can avoid this mistake by having our team at Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP reassess your property tax to help you protect your home for your children and future generations.

#5: Not Coordinating their Estate Plan

A big mistake families make is setting up their estate planning and trusts but failing to add their investments to their trusts. Your trust is only effective to the extent that your assets are in your trust. The best way to ensure that your estate plan has everything you need is by communicating your wants and needs to an experienced estate planning attorney. Our team at Gilfix & La Poll Associates LLP can help ensure that your estate is up-to-date and protects you, your assets, and future generations.

Contact our Palo Alto estate planning attorneys today at (650) 683-9200 to schedule a consultation!

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