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Ms. Stephanie A. Bivens is principal attorney at Bivens & Associates P.L.L.C. that specializes exclusively in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Special Needs Planning. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney accredited by the State Bar of Arizona.
She based her presentation on 10 Common Mistakes in Estate Planning –Avoid the Pitfalls. The following summary is based on the power point presentation included with this review.
Mistake 1: Procrastination and Failure to plan at All
She discussed that everyone over age 18 should have an Estate Plan based on the key document including Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Well, Financial Power of Attorney, and Last Will and Testament or Trust.
Mistake 2: Do it Yourself Planning
You should not consider preparing your own documents. Often times, mistakes are discovered too late and could result in unnecessary legal proceedings and/or litigation.
Mistake 3: Failure to Update Estate Planning Documents
Because conditions can change, you need to review and update any of your documents.
Mistake 4: Failure to Coordinate Non-Probate Assets with the Overall Plan
It is important to identify how assets will be distributed whether by Will, joint ownership or beneficiary designation.
Mistake 5: Failure to Properly Fund Your Trust
A Trust can only manage assets owned by the Trust.
Mistake 6: Failure to Plan for Contingencies, such as People Dying “Out of Order”
Mistake 7: Failure to Deal with Blended Family Issues and Potential Contests
Mistake 8: Failure to Plan for Potential Incapacity
Proper planning is for both life (incapacitation) and death planning. Documents can be used to carry out the wishes of an incapacitated person in such areas as financial affairs and medical care.
Mistake 9: Failure to Consider Using a Trust
A Trust is not necessarily based on how much you have, but how you handle what you have.
Mistake 10: Failure to Leave the “Bread Crumbs”
It is important to provide a list of assets, particularly digital assets and passwords.
Ms. Bivens concluded her presentation with a brief review of ways to provide for long-term care. These included long-term policies, annuities, and government programs.
Submitted by Jay Butler on March 26, 2019
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