Many experienced estate planning attorneys have a list of the worst estate planning mistakes that Texans can make. For many attorneys, at the top of the list is inadvertently leaving money to the wrong person in their estate plan. Most people have strong preferences on who should inherit their money and property after they pass away—this is why they have an estate plan in place. However, even individuals with estate plans may make mistakes that lead the wrong person to benefit from the error. Below are some of the most common estate planning mistakes and how they can be avoided, according to Texas estate planning attorneys.
Ex-Spouses Inheriting Money
One estate planning mistake that many people fear is their ex-spouse inheriting their money or property after they pass away. Most formerly married couples do not want their ex-spouse to receive their assets if they die first. While most state laws ensure former spouses lose property rights after a couple is divorced, individuals must change their beneficiaries on estate planning documents as well.
Before getting divorced, most individuals will name their spouse as their beneficiary—for pensions, insurance policies, and bank account beneficiaries as well. If the beneficiary designation is not changed after the divorce and one of the former spouses passes away, then their ex may inherit the asset. Estate planning attorneys can help advise clients on changing these designations as soon as the divorce is finalized and provide recommendations on who should replace the ex-spouse as the beneficiary.
Not Planning for the Death of a Beneficiary
Similar to the above issue where a former spouse is named as a beneficiary, individuals should also think about who will inherit their assets if the beneficiary named in their will passes away before they do. If the only named beneficiary dies and the person does not name someone else in their will before they pass away, the probate court will decide who receives their funds. Most often, this tends to be the closest related family member—regardless of how close the two individuals personally are.
One solution to this problem is to name multiple people as beneficiaries, or to have a “back-up” beneficiary in the will—in case the first person passes away.
It is critical to avoid these common estate planning mistakes, so that loved ones will not have to deal with the consequences after the person passes away. Experienced estate planning attorneys can help with this process and make sure common mistakes are not being made.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney
If you or a loved one is worried that your estate plan may inadvertently leave assets to the wrong person, reach out to the Texas estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. B By meeting with one of our attorneys and reviewing your estate plan with us, we can ensure that you avoid any estate planning errors, which can also help to reduce stress about the future. And we are here to also help individuals who do not yet have an estate plan in place but are interested in beginning this process. To schedule a consultation and to speak with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at 713-333-8900.