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Simple, common mistakes to avoid in estate planning

Washington residents care about their loved ones, and making sure that one's estate is in order is a crucial element of making sure loved ones are helped cared for after death. However, estate planning can be a complex experience and there are some mistakes that should be avoided.

When choosing the person to implement an estate plan as an executor or trustee, a common instinct can be to default to certain people that seemingly make sense such as the oldest child or surviving spouse. Those should not be the default choices, however. Taking time to choose the correct person -- someone who is honest and completely trustworthy -- should trump any familial notion.

In a similar vein, not updating beneficiary forms is a common mistake that can quickly throw things into disarray. After going through a divorce or after the death of a spouse, updating beneficiary forms assures that assets are transferred to the correct individuals. Also, having alternate beneficiaries can help protect the assets involved in case something happens to the primary individual.

Another simple yet very important step to estate planning is telling people about the plans. While it may seem like common sense, it can be a step that is skipped because of the somewhat uncomfortable nature of the discussion. However, telling people about estate plans helps avoid unpleasant surprises when assets are divided up or certain desires carried out. It can greatly help in making the plan be carried out in a smoother fashion.

Estate planning might be a slightly uncomfortable thought to deal with, but it is a very important step in ensuring desires are carried out correctly. Given its complexities, seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can help make the process easier to understand.

Source:, "Key Estate Planning Mistakes You Need To Avoid," Bob Carlson, July 24, 2014

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To speak with an attorney at Gellner Law Group about estate planning, probate, trusts, wills or tax controversy, contact our law office in Kent, Washington, today. You can call 425-336-2908 or send us an email. We provide representation across the entire Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area.

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