notebook titled mistakes to avoidThe estate planning process can be complicated, emotionally challenging, and littered with potential pitfalls. At Cucinelli Geiger, PC, our dedicated Virginia estate planning attorneys can help you identify and avoid some of the common mistakes people tend to make. Here's what you should know.

Watch Out for These Common Estate Planning Errors

Estate planning isn't intuitive, and when you consider how easy it is to make mistakes that can have unintended but significant negative consequences, it's no wonder that it's a task people tend to put off. The good news is that, with the assistance of an adept estate planning attorney, you can achieve your goals and protect your family's future. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to estate planning.

Failing to Plan

Have you been putting off thinking about an estate plan? No one likes thinking about their own mortality, and you certainly wouldn't be the first person to mistakenly assume that you're too young, too healthy, or lack sufficient assets to benefit from having an estate plan. The stark truth is that no one is assured a tomorrow, and if you die without a will, trust, or other estate planning tool in place, it can make the loss even more difficult for your family.

Dying without these vital documents means your estate will have to pass through the probate process before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries. In addition to being lengthy, costly, and public, going through probate means that assets are dispersed according to intestate succession laws rather than your wishes. Don't risk it. Find out how we can help you start the estate planning process today.

Using Templates or Do-it-Yourself Services

You're intelligent and capable, but trying to plan your estate without the advice and assistance of a professional can be a recipe for disaster. Templates and DIY services don't understand your finances, goals, or special circumstances. As a result, a fill-in-the-blank approach to estate planning simply cannot provide the protection or peace of mind that comes with working with a knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled estate planning attorney. Planning an estate can be frustrating, confusing, and intimidating but, with our help, it doesn't have to be.

Following Other People's Estate Planning Advice

Once your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers find out that you're working on an estate plan, you may start to get a lot of advice about what you should do based on what worked for them. The problem is, what worked for them may not work for you and could even end up putting you in a bad position. Take this well-meaning legal advice with a grain of salt and consult an estate planning attorney.

Failing to Regularly Review and Update Your Estate Plan

As your life changes, so, too, should your estate plan. Most estate planning professionals recommend reviewing and updating your plan every three to five years or after births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and other major life changes. You may also need to update your estate plan if you move, wish to add or change beneficiaries, or open a business. If you have an estate plan, our accomplished attorneys can go over it with you to ensure that it still meets your current and future needs.

Failing to Plan for Incapacitation

If you consider yourself young and healthy, the idea of planning for incapacity can seem unnecessary. Unfortunately, accidents and illnesses can strike at any time. Designating someone who can make important health or financial decisions for you when you're unable to make them for yourself is essential. We can help you explore your options for powers of attorney and draw up the necessary legal documents.

Failing to Plan for Long-Term Care Needs

For people who are 65 today, the chance of needing some type of long-term care or support services in their remaining years of life is nearly 70 percent. With nursing home care ranging between $8,000 and $12,000 per month and the average person requiring between two and five years of care, the cost of long-term nursing care is far more than most families can pay.

Medicaid can help, but qualifying for this government assistance program often requires careful advance planning to meet strict income and asset limits.

If you have to reduce assets to qualify, there are right and wrong ways to do it, and doing it the wrong way can delay your eligibility for much-needed coverage. Estate planning attorneys at Cucinelli Geiger, PC can help you find ways to spend down safely, qualify for benefits, and preserve assets for the benefit of your loved ones.

Failing to Plan for Minor Children or Grandchildren

When you have young children, your estate plan should name guardians for them (in the event of your incapacity or death). It should also include directions for the guardian, instructing them on how to spend assets to care for the children or otherwise benefit them.

Failing to Understand or Plan for Estate Tax Liability

Estates that are particularly large may be subject to estate taxes which the executor or personal representative for your estate will have to pay. Failing to plan for estate tax liability can result in your hard-earned money going to unnecessary taxes or fees rather than your beloved friends and family members. Our attorneys can help you find solutions to protect your estate from excess tax liability.

Choosing the Wrong Personal Representative or Fiduciary

The person you choose to serve as a trustee, executor, conservator, or personal representative should be trustworthy, reliable, and able to dedicate the necessary time and effort to wide-ranging estate administration tasks. Choosing an unqualified, inexperienced, or immature fiduciary can make estate administration a nightmare. We can help you choose a qualified person, and we can even help them successfully complete their duties and responsibilities.

Schedule a Consultation

You need a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney to help you avoid these common mistakes. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your estate planning needs and goals.