Estate planning is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are honored. However, even with the best intentions, people often make mistakes that can complicate or even undermine their estate plans. At our Mesa, Arizona law firm, we guide you through the process, helping you avoid common pitfalls and ensuring your estate plan reflects your true intentions.

The Biggest Mistake People Make on Their Wills

One of the most significant mistakes in estate planning is not updating the will to reflect life changes. Whether it’s a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or acquisition of significant assets, failing to update your will can lead to unintended consequences, leaving your estate in the hands of those you didn’t intend or creating legal challenges for your loved ones.

The other mistake is thinking that a will avoids probate.  It does not.  In fact, a will has to be submitted to the probate court to be validated as the deceased most recent last will and testament and for the personal representative named in the will to be appointed.  If one of your goals is avoiding the headache of probate, then you should think about planning with a revocable living trust, which does have the capability of avoiding probate.

Understanding the 5-Year Rule for Trusts

The 5-year rule for trusts often relates to Medicaid planning. It states that assets transferred into a trust are still considered part of your estate for Medicaid eligibility purposes if the transfer occurred within five years of applying for Medicaid. This rule is designed to prevent individuals from artificially reducing their assets to qualify for Medicaid coverage for long-term care.

What Should Not Be Written in the Will?

Certain items and directives should not be included in your will, as they can create confusion, legal challenges, or are simply not enforceable. These include:

  • Funeral Instructions: Wills are often read after funeral arrangements are made. It’s better to communicate these wishes separately.
  • Certain Types of Property: Jointly owned property, life insurance proceeds, and retirement accounts usually pass outside of a will.
  • Illegal Requests and Conditions: Any illegal stipulations or conditions based on marriage, divorce, or change of religion are generally unenforceable.
  • Vague or Ambiguous Language: Clarity is crucial in a will. Ambiguity can lead to disputes and legal challenges.

Other Common Estate Planning Mistakes

  • Neglecting Digital Assets: In today’s digital age, it’s essential to include digital assets like social media accounts, digital currencies, and online banking in your estate plan.
  • Failing to Plan for Disability: An effective estate plan also includes directives for your care and financial management if you become incapacitated.
  • Overlooking Potential Tax Implications: Without proper planning, your estate could face significant tax liabilities, reducing the amount passed on to your beneficiaries.
  • Not Seeking Professional Advice: Estate planning can be complex, and DIY solutions often lead to mistakes. Professional guidance is key.

How We Can Help

At our law firm, we specialize in helping individuals navigate the complexities of estate planning. Our approach is personalized, empathetic, and thorough. We ensure that your estate plan is a true reflection of your wishes and is structured to provide maximum benefit to your loved ones.

Your Estate Planning Partner

Estate planning is more than just drafting documents; it’s about crafting a legacy. Avoiding common mistakes is crucial in ensuring that your wishes are honored and your loved ones are cared for as you intended.

If you’re in Mesa, Arizona, and looking to create or update your estate plan, we’re here to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let’s work together to build a strong, effective estate plan that stands the test of time and honors your legacy.