Legal Blog

Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Common Estate Planning MistakesAt Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law, estate planning is one of the most fundamental and important legal services we provide. Because of this, we thought it would be appropriate to help educate our readers on some of the most common estate planning mistakes:

  1. Planning for Disability: Too many people only focus on death when addressing their estate plans. However, death is not the only life event that can affect your estate and your loved ones. In fact, there is a greater chance that someone will be unable to make their own decisions due to disability. Because of this, it is important to have powers of attorney which indicate who will make your financial and medical decisions if you become disabled.
  2. Coordinate Beneficiary Designations: Certain assets (i.e. life insurance policies, retirement plan accounts, etc.) are distributed after death to the designated beneficiary, even if your Will states that your assets should be distributed to someone else. You, therefore, need to make sure that your beneficiary designations reflect your dispositive wishes.
  3. Planning for Long-Term Care: Approximately 60% of people need some form of long-term care, including nursing home care, assisted living care and home care. The national average annual cost for such care is close to $75,000 and insurance can be purchased (long-term care insurance) to fund the cost of long-term care.  Unfortunately, too many people fail to look into their long-term insurance options until they’re unable to care for themselves; and when that occurs, it’s too late to obtain long-term care coverage.
  4. State and Federal Estate Tax Law: As state and federal estate tax laws change, so to do the needs of your estate plan. Because of this, it is important to make sure that your estate planning documents have been updated and take into account the tax law changes that have been made.
  5. Protect Inheritance: The use of trusts can be very beneficial in the protection of inheritances.  If you’re concerned about safeguarding a beneficiary’s inheritance from the claims of a future creditor, you should consider leaving the inheritance to a trust for the beneficiary, instead of providing that the beneficiary will paid the inheritance directly.
  6. Select Proper Fiduciaries: Make sure that you spend the appropriate time in selecting the people who are designated to carry out your estate plans according to your wishes.
  7. Asset Protection Planning: Not having the proper liability insurance, including an excess liability “umbrella” policy, may cause your assets to be unprotected from claims of creditors.
  8. Update Your Estate Plan: Too often people have wills, powers of attorney and health care directives prepared, which are forgotten and not managed for long periods of time. It is important to update these documents as as your family changes (births, deaths, marriages, divorce, etc.), and as your needs or wishes change.
  9. Hire a Good Estate Planning Team: Not all estate planning attorneys are created equal. Having an experienced and qualified estate planning attorney, certified public accountant, insurance advisor and financial advisor is critical in order to do the best possible estate planning.

If you have any questions about Common Estate Planning Mistakes, please contact Offit Kurman co-founder and estate planning attorney Louis Jay Ulman at 301.575.0354 or Mr. Ulman has an extensive background in working with families to solve their legal issues, including plans to minimize estate taxes, avoid probate and permit transfers of businesses to future generations. Mr. Ulman has handled very challenging family business disputes and business succession issues. He works with families which have special needs members in order to provide for their care and support after the senior family members are deceased. He assists families who have members needing long-term care in order to help them receive all appropriate benefits and protect their assets.

Offit Kurman Attorneys at Law: Estates, Trusts and Elder Law Practice Group

The attorneys in our Estates, Trusts and Elder Law Practice Group are dedicated to the design, documentation, and implementation of high-quality estate plans for both individuals and families. Our estate plans help you, to the maximum extent possible, minimize the burden of gift and estate taxes and protect your assets from the threat of preexisting and potential creditors.

Whether you have sophisticated or basic goals, enjoy substantial wealth or have more modest means, the estate planning attorneys at Offit Kurman develop a customized plan tailored to meet your needs and objectives.

If you have any questions about Estate Planning, please fill out the contact form found on to access the sound legal guidance of our experienced estate planning team. You can also connect with Offit Kurman via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn.