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How to avoid common estate plan mistakes

The increase in the estate tax exemption to $11.18 million can be a good thing for Minnesota residents and others. However, there are ways for an individual to jeopardize his or her plan for what happens to assets after passing away. For instance, passing away intestate could mean that heirs have to spend time and money proving that they are owed a portion of an inheritance.

It could also call in question whether a special needs family member is entitled to continue receiving government benefits. In some cases, an individual who tries to create an estate plan on his or her own could be making critical mistakes that may render the document invalid. In the event that the document itself is valid, executing it in an invalid manner could render it meaningless in the eyes of the law.

Those who have created an estate plan should be sure to review it on a regular basis. Ideally, it will be looked over with an attorney every five to seven years at the latest. However, it can also be beneficial to go over an estate plan after life events such as a birth, marriage or divorce. When making the plan, individuals should be as open and transparent as possible to give themselves the best chance of having their wishes met.

Ideally, an individual will begin estate planning as soon as he or she becomes an adult. Getting married, buying a home or having a child may also provide the motivation to create an estate plan. An attorney might be of assistance during the estate plan creation process. He or she might be able to advise on the types of documents needed to protect the interests of the client.

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