For the better part of a century, Consumer Reports has worked hard to keep us all safe from disreputable, defective, or unfairly priced items in the marketplace. As an independent nonprofit organization, unsupported by ad revenue and unanswerable to shareholders, they’ve earned a reputation as objective and trustworthy advocates for the everyman.
Last month, Consumer Reports offered some friendly advice outside the realm of their usual interest in automotives, retail, and the like. Entitled “6 costly estate-planning minefields, and how to avoid them,” the new article looks at lessons we can all learn from deceased celebrities’ costly blunders.
The article includes some great tips, and we’d like to share (in brief fashion) some of their more salient advice below:
- Don’t assume you don’t need an estate plan. Every adult needs one, whether for asset management, incapacity planning, minor guardianship, power of attorney, or asset distribution.
- Don’t put everything into joint ownership with the same people. If your child is a co-owner, he or she might as well be a full owner. Even if you completely trust your children, those assets could become targets for their litigants or creditors.
- Don’t confuse “will” with “estate plan.” There are many documents that need to be duly executed together. The will might be the most famous part of the puzzle, but it’s just one piece.
- Don’t give everything to someone who might squander it. A carefully created trust will allow you to condition the ways in which your beneficiaries make use of your assets.
- Don’t cause a family feud. Death is hard enough on your loved ones. Sloppy drafting is a sure way to ignite hostility between siblings and other relatives after you pass away.
- Don’t overcomplicate your plan or rely on outdated law. When executed properly, the various parts of an estate plan should work together in harmony while allowing some breathing room for future changes in the law.
Kudos to Consumer Reports for drawing attention to oft-overlooked considerations in the world of estate planning. After all, wills and trusts might matter a lot more than any given purchase you make.
If you’d like some help with your own estate plan, please don’t hesitate to contact the Phoenix estate planning attorneys here at Kamper, Estrada & Simmons, LLP. We’re here to help.