Justin Raber Attorney at Law

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Avoid issues when estate planning

Most residents of West Virginia and those around the country understand the importance of planning for the future and how their affairs will be handled after death. However, many fail to give estate planning the necessary attention it needs. Many may realize the need and the broad concept of making an estate plan, yet few understand the detailed requirements. This lack of understanding can lead to future issues if not addressed.

Financial experts stress the importance of having up-to-date documentation. Make sure that marriages, divorces and deaths are reflected in the naming of beneficiaries. Also, a comprehensive inventory of assets is essential. It is critical to remember that the plans are static in nature and should be reviewed on an annual basis. In addition, wills should be revised as needed.

Another pitfall could include relying on joint tenancy in an effort to avoid probate. Some may fail to coordinate a will and a trust. It is necessary to make sure all document information matches. Furthermore, assets should be appropriately titled so that the intended distribution can take place.

Beneficiaries must be reviewed and updated periodically as changes can occur. One area often overlooked is naming someone to make health care decisions when one becomes incapacitated. Living wills or medical directives can be written to ensure someone's wishes are followed.

Estate planning can be a complex process involving assets, beneficiaries, taxes and end-of-life decision-making. It would be beneficial to consult a West Virginia attorney familiar with elder law issues. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate a situation and help develop a plan to ensure that an estate is handled as specified.

Source: sabethaherald.com, "Estate Planning pitfalls", Bob Schumann, June 2, 2017

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