Justin Raber Attorney at Law

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Estate planning is a process, not a one-time event

While many West Virginia residents have developed plans for their retirement years, most do not realize the need to periodically review and update the documents. Financial experts stress that estate planning is not something someone can do one time and be done with it forever. An individual's situation can change as could pertinent laws that may affect an estate. It is vital to review an estate plan regularly and avoid several mistakes.

One common pitfall is not fully understanding the total estate. A person needs to determine the value of an estate and specify how assets and liabilities will be handled. Another problem is not making family members aware of the estate plan. While a third-party professional would share the information with them following a death, it is typically important for the family members to personally hear someone's desires.

Problems can arise when assets are directly left to children, particularly when they are younger. Establishing a trust can ensure that funds will be available for the children's education, health and support. Also, the oldest child may not be the best person to be the executor or trustee of an estate. Select the person (or persons) with the best capabilities to manage the estate.

It is critical to properly designate beneficiaries on a periodic basis. A review is definitely important after major life events, such as marriage, birth or divorce. Always consider the tax implications for state estate transfers and inheritances. Also, a business success plan is a necessary part of transitioning to new ownership after a death.

Estate planning should be an ongoing process for West Virginia residents as they prepare for their futures. If someone needs to develop an estate plan, an experienced elder law attorney can provide guidance throughout the process. A knowledgeable lawyer will evaluate a specific situation and develop a plan best suited to a client's needs.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Avoid these 7 estate planning mistakes", David Heilich, June 26, 2017

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