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Common mistakes made regarding estate planning

Most Delaware residents would say that their lives are busy. Going to work, taking care of daily family obligations and other tasks can occupy a significant amount of time. Therefore, when it comes to estate planning, many people make the mistake of putting it off until it is too late or neglecting to ensure that the plan will provide for their loved ones in the manner they intended.

Every adult in Delaware should have at least a basic will. Otherwise, it will be up to the state to distribute a decedent's property, which might not be in the manner it would have been if he or she had taken the time to prepare a last will and testament. For other people, a basic will is not enough to adequately provide for the needs of each beneficiary or heir.

Like wills, trusts allow an individual to dictate how and when property is distributed after his or her death. Unlike a will, however, the assets that are held in the trust will not have to go through probate, which could save family members a significant amount of time and money. Certain accounts, such as retirement accounts and insurance policies, also do not go through probate and are governed by beneficiary designations regardless of what the will might indicate, so they need to be kept up to date as well.

Estate planning is an area of law that allows people to tailor their documents in a variety of ways. It is also often quite forgiving since most documents can be changed, modified or completely replaced as circumstances change. Contemplating death might not be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon or two, but it would be a mistake to ignore what will happen to an individual's property after he or she passes away.

Source: nasdaq.com, "4 Strategies to Avoid an Estate-Planning Mishap", C. Grant Conness, Aug. 2, 2016

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