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Estate planning errors can prove to be costly

One incentive to putting together a well thought out estate plan is to learn from the mistakes of others. Surprisingly, many of those mistakes are made by individuals that we would think would know better.

In the circumstance of a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he drafted a will that was only 176 words long. The family then was required to spend more than $450,000 to correct problems that came about due to this drafting.

More telling was the circumstances of a young woman who had planned on passing all of her assets onto her son. Her estate, as it turned out, contained more than $1 million that came about due to a wrongful death claim. However, as her son passed away just a few hours after she did and she did not have any provisions in her will to have the money pass elsewhere, the father of the son received everything. As it turned out, the father was allegedly addicted to drugs and had not been involved in his son's life. If the assets had been left in a trust with a contingent beneficiary named, the assets could have gone elsewhere.

Michael Jackson had created a trust, but he failed to keep the trust fully funded. This led to a court battle between various family members. There was also the instance of a father passing away from a stroke while he had in place a $1 million life insurance policy. Since the children did not know of the existence of the policy and never read the man's male, the account was later closed and the children missed out on the proceeds.

Finally, one husband suffered a stroke while no durable power of attorney for finances was ever created. The family then had to go through a guardianship proceeding to be able to access the assets.

Please speak to an experienced attorney concerning your estate planning needs in a timely fashion.  If you are a Florida resident, it is especially important to speak to an attorney licensed from Florida as laws can vary from state to state.  Mistakes can prove to be costly.

Source:, "Estate planning mistakes to learn from," Carissa Giebel, March 24, 2014

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