As you look to the future, one of the most important steps you can take is to work with an estate planning attorney to effectively plan for the years ahead. This is a difficult issue for many people to address — after all, why would you want to think about what will happen after you pass away?
As distasteful as it may seem, sound estate planning gives you the ability to clearly outline your wishes as they relate to your assets and property, beneficiaries and medical treatments. It can also save you a great deal of money and reduce your estate tax obligations, especially if you have a high net worth.
To that end, it’s important to understand the key estate planning missteps individuals make — and how a skilled estate planning attorney can help you avoid them. The following are some of the most common mistakes we see during this process:
1. Waiting too long to begin the process
Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only for those who are approaching or have already reached retirement age. A 2015 survey found that about 64 percent of Americans do not have a will, and nearly one-third of those individuals say they still have plenty of time to create one. Another 15 percent did not believe they needed a will at all.
In reality, this process is important for people of all ages. Those with minor children should be especially vigilant about setting up a guardianship arrangement in case both parents pass away unexpectedly.
Even if retirement is decades away, you should still meet with a King of Prussia estate planning attorney to learn more about what you should be doing to prepare for the years ahead.
2. Failing to realize the complexity of your finances
Many individuals — even those with substantial wealth — think that their finances are simpler than they really are. They tend to believe that setting up joint accounts or joint tendency of a home is enough to cover their bases, and that they don’t actually need a formal will.
This can be a big mistake, as even individuals with fairly modest levels of wealth may have more complicated financial pictures than they realize. And if they have kids, they need to decide who should receive certain assets and property in the event of an untimely passing.
3. Forgetting about digital assets
As you plan for the future, your focus may be on physical assets like a home, motor vehicles, jewelry and other items you can see and touch. However, you should not forget about your digital assets, such as online bank accounts and digital copies of key financial documents. If you use a cloud-based storage system, you should make note of all passwords and ensure someone you trust has access to them in an emergency situation.
Also, think about your social media and other online accounts. Consider how you would like your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to be handled upon your passing. Some social media platforms (including Facebook) will allow family members to set up a memorial profile after you have passed away — or you may have the profile deleted completely.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania estate planning attorney to learn more
Consult experienced Pennsylvania estate planning trust attorney Joe Frabizzio to determine the best and most cost-effective strategy for your family. Proper estate planning could help your family save tens of thousands of dollars in estate taxes and probate costs. Call us at 610-667-2988 for a free consultation and to learn more.