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Do I need more than a will when estate planning?

For people estate planning in California, avoiding common mistakes is a key concern. One major mistake is using a will alone, which can result in a protracted and often costly probate hearing. Forbes explains some of the most common estate planning mistakes and how you can avoid them.

While wills are an important part of estate planning, they fall short of offering comprehensive protection. This is especially true when it comes to financial accounts or retirement plans. These accounts are not dispersed within your will; instead, they are dispersed via beneficiary designations, which must be completed upon your passing. Otherwise the court will decide who should receive the proceeds of financial accounts.

You must also name a person to act on your behalf when it comes to health and financial matters. This is accomplished via an advanced medical directive and power of attorney. In the event you’re incapacitated by illness or injury and can no longer make decisions on your own, the person you choose will step in to oversee your affairs. It’s crucial that you select a responsible and informed individual in this case, so your affairs receive the attention they deserve.

Trusts are another important estate planning document to be considered. Trusts actually help you avoid probate and keep decisions regarding your estate private. Many people opt to have some combination of wills and trusts within their estate plan to afford the greatest protection. No matter which option you choose, having skilled legal assistance is recommended. These documents are often very complex, especially when you have numerous assets. An attorney will ensure wills and trusts are valid and legally binding to prevent legal issues from developing. 

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