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Common estate planning mistakes

Estate planning can be an intimidating task for Pennsylvania residents. Even when they begin to craft an estate plan, there are pitfalls for those who aren't aware of the complications that can arise in the process. If Pennsylvania residents can avoid some of the most common estate planning mistakes, they will likely have a solid, comprehensive estate plan.

The biggest - and most common - mistake to avoid when it comes to estate planning is not having an estate plan at all. Previous posts here have mentioned how Americans avoid estate planning discussions and decisions. But, if a person dies without a will, that person dies "intestate," meaning that state law will dictate how that person's assets will be distributed, which may not be the way that person would want.

Next, many people may think that estate planning ends when a will is drafted, but there is much more to the plan than just healing with passing away. People should also consider incapacity. So, in addition to a will, most people benefit from having power of attorney documents. These documents enable another person to make important financial or health-related decisions if the testator become incapacitated. If a person does not have these documents in place, there can be quite a bit of confusion and heartache if an unexpected tragedy occurs.

Lastly, when Pennsylvania residents finally have an estate plan in place, it is a mistake to think that the documents don't need to be reviewed from time to time. Make sure that estate planning documents are reviewed, especially after major life events, to help ensure that the plan is always up-to-date and ready to be implemented, if needed.

Source:, "Opinion: 7 common estate planning disasters and how to avoid them," Michael Feinfeld, April 26, 2018

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