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Estate planning mistakes can cause serious problems

There are a variety of mistakes that people in Georgia and throughout the country make when creating an estate plan. One such error is to not have an estate plan at all. Creating a will allows a person to determine where his or her assets go after passing on. In many cases, a spouse only receives property that was jointly owned or otherwise titled with joint ownership rights.

Beneficiary designations should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as necessary. The designation will stand even if a will or trust says that an asset should go to another person. It is generally a good idea to review these designations and other parts of an estate plan after a major life event such as a divorce or a remarriage. The birth of a child may also be a good time to review an estate plan.

Ideally, children will not receive assets directly or be named as co-owners of an account. Adding a child to an account could result in the need to file a gift tax return, and the money in the account could be taken by creditors. If the child is a minor, he or she won't be able to own the property outright. Instead, time and money will need to be spent appointing a guardian for that asset until the minor reaches the age of majority.

Failing to create or update an estate plan may result in inheritance issues that may strain relationships between family members. It might be a good idea to create or review a plan with the help of an attorney or another estate planning professional. This may make it possible to update beneficiary designations, fund a trust or take other steps to ensure an estate plan meets a person's needs.

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