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Wichita Estate Planning Attorney Offers 7 Tips for Avoiding Estate Planning Errors [part I]

Weber Law July 6, 2015

Effective estate planning involves careful financial planning, artful crafting of legal documents, and skillful implementation of legacy succession strategies.  Many attempts to mitigate the depletion of financial legacies have less than desirable results because people fail to seek legal advice from an experienced Kansas Estate Planning Lawyer.  When individuals attempt to construct an estate plan, they can benefit from an experienced professional who will consider the full spectrum of potential issues, including but are not limited to the following:

  • Avoiding probate

  • Minimizing tax liability

  • Carrying out legacy succession intentions

  • Reducing estate administration costs

  • Preserving financial resources for beneficiaries with issues related to youth, irresponsibility, and/or liability issues

  • Providing health care advance directives

  • Nominating guardians for minor children

  • Discouraging costly challenges to trusts and wills

These are merely a handful of important considerations that must be taken into account when developing an estate plan.  Given the many factors and issues involved in the estate planning process, there are certain types of mistakes that often undermine an estate plan.  In this two-installment blog post, Wichita Estate Planning Lawyer J. Joseph Weber has provides an overview of frequent estate planning missteps.

Error #1 Failure to Provide Sufficient Liquidity

When people use online websites, computer software, DIY guides, so-called paralegals, or typing services, the focus tends to be solely on document drafting without consideration of implementation issues.  Miscalculations regarding the broad range of expenses associated with the administration of an estate plan can interfere with the process and create challenges for beneficiaries and heirs.  Many people without legal representation also are caught off-guard by how quickly these expenses must be handled after an individual passes away.

When proper arrangements are not made regarding liquidity of assets, the person handling the affairs of the estate and/or individuals inheriting under the estate plan might be compelled to sell assets at a substantial loss.  Assets that might need to be terminated include high income generating real property, the most valuable assets, and/or controlling interest in a family business.  Potential costs that should be considered when determining liquidity needs include:

  • Federal income tax (including IRS liability for pension distributions)

  • State include tax (including tax obligations related to pension distributions)

  • Capital to permit continued operation of an ongoing business

  • Living expenses and funds to promote the welfare of surviving family members

  • Expenses associated with administration of an estate and/or probate costs

  • State death tax

  • Generation-skipping transfer tax

  • Satisfaction of debts of the estate

  • Federal estate taxes

  • Distribution of distinct cash bequests

Since no two estates or sets of family circumstances are identical, there is no guarantee that an individual will incur all of the expenses above.  However, the lion-share of large estates will incur most if not all of these expenses.

Readers who want to avoid estate planning mistakes are invited to read Part II and Part III if this blog series.  If you have questions about estate planning, estate administration, or the probate process, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions.  We invite you to call the Kansas Estate Planning Lawyer at the Weber Law Office or to submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.