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Major mistakes to avoid in estate planning

Some California residents may be among others across the nation currently facing challenges regarding living wills, trusts or other related matters. Careful estate planning is advisable to any and all who wish to secure their assets and provide for loved ones' futures. In the past, some people's situations have been less than ideal, due perhaps to several types of mistakes that may actually have been avoided.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. citizens do not have documented wills in place when they die. This often leads to confusion and discord among family members when it comes time for assets to be distributed. Former president Abrahma Lincoln and rock star Jimi Hendrix are other famous people who died without first executing wills. Lack of specific instructions often leads to drawn-out court battles and lengthy probate processes.

The fact is that even with no set will, an estate owner's assets will be distributed; however, such assets may not be inherited by the person/persons the owner of the estate might have chosen. Many people who do sign wills fail to keep them updated, which is another potentially disastrous mistake. Lifestyle changes as well as those involving finances may bear significant impact on an estate plan. It is recommended that a set plan be updated annually.

Contentious battles often arise within families when a person dies without having kept current records in his/her estate planning process. Some may be surprised by what other families have fought over, such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s relatives who are said to have battled over his personal Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal. California residents who wish to avoid similar situations may find it helpful to consult with an estate planning and administration attorney for guidance.

Source: CNBC, "Don't make these celebrities' estate-planning blunders", Kelli B. Grant, Sept. 17, 2016

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