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Estate Planning Mistakes: Two Spooky Things That Can Happen To Foul Up An Estate Plan

estate planning mistakes

Several very common estate planning mistakes can truly spook your beneficiaries

Furthermore, such mistakes might undo the good planning that went into the creation of your estate plan. Importantly, many estate planning mistakes can easily be avoided. Read on, and please take action if any of what follows applies to you.

Not Being Able To Find Original Documents

For starters, let’s agree that people can die suddenly and unexpectedly. That is scary enough. But something that makes sudden death situations even scarier is when no one can find the original estate planning documents. Many things unravel if your family only possesses a copy of the estate plan. It’s especially an estate planning blunder if you don’t know where original documents are located.

Whether death comes unexpectedly or not, original documents are required for the courts. For example, if the original Last Will and Testament cannot be located, it is the general presumption of the court that the original must have been destroyed by the owner of the document. Consequently, it’s imperative to safely house your original documents. Additionally, you should ensure your loved ones know where the documents can be located. Sometimes the original documents may be kept at the office of the attorney who created the documents. However, often people put their documents somewhere “safe.” Yet, they don’t tell anyone where they are and ultimately, forget where that safe place is.

Misplaced original documents happen so often that I typically advise my clients to purchase a fire-proof safe to place their original documents in.

The point is… If you go through the important effort to create these documents, don’t make common estate planning blunders like this one. The original docs must be accessible to you and to the person you’ve designated as your Power of Attorney and/or Executor and/or Trustee. Howver, so many simply forget to tell their loved ones where their estate planning documents are stored. Believe it or not, some people don’t even tell their loved ones who their attorneys are. This is one of the most easily avoided of estate planning blunders.

The Unfunded Trust

A revocable trust is often an important part of an estate plan. The benefits of a revocable trust include avoiding probate, maintaining privacy, and providing for a smooth transition of asset management in the event of the Grantor’s incapacity and/or death.

Although, the benefits of a revocable trust are only realized if the trust is properly funded during the Grantor’s lifetime. Failure to fund the trust can lead to probate, increased costs, delays in asset distribution, potential legal disputes, and more. The grantor must re-title assets into the name of the trust. Many people fail to do this after they’ve created Trust. Or, in some cases they re-title their assets into the trust incorrectly.

If a trust is not fully funded, this can be a troublesome estate planning blunder.

the distribution of assets may not align with the Grantor’s intended estate plan, leading to potential disputes among heirs and beneficiaries. These conflicts can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Whatever assets remain in your individual name at time of death will have to undergo probate before they can be distributed. This process can take months or even years and will surely diminish the value of the estate that the beneficiaries eventually receive. Again, this is something that can easily be avoided. The trust is usually funded when it is created. But people are people and some just keep putting off this important step until it’s too late.

Not Just Spooky, Horrific

The two examples of estate planning mistakes I’ve explored above can cause much trouble. So much trouble in fact, that the experiences can be horrific for the beneficiaries you were hoping to help.

If you’ve created a revocable trust and have been procrastinating on funding it, please don’t delay. The creation of your trust is often a substantial financial investment. Consequently, the last thing you want is for its intended purpose to be null and void due to failure to fund the trust.

If you don’t know where your estate planning documents are, take time to find them now. Don’t wait a moment longer. Furthermore, if that plan needs to be updated to reflect major life changes such as marriages, divorces, new children, a move to another state, call my office today at 404-370-0696 and let’s get that taken care of.

We have enough horrible things to deal with in life without unintentionally creating more.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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