The market doesn’t care about your money.
W r i t t e n & P u b l i s h e d b y G r e g o r y L u k e n
“Do It Yourself” Estate
A “Do It Yourself” estate plan and a “Do It
Yourself” appendectomy have two things in
common—both can be accomplished if one reads
enough of the right books and both are not wise to
attempt (for obvious reasons).
Today, thanks to the world’s largest library, the
Internet, it is possible to gather the information
necessary to attempt your own estate plan.
However, it is much too easy to overlook key
planning opportunities that can cause the estate to
pay unnecessary taxes, high fees, or distribute
assets to the wrong people at the wrong time.
The following are a number of areas where I
often see mistakes made by “Do It Yourselfers.”
Out-of-date wills and trusts done prior to
the enactment of specific estate and gift tax laws
often do not take advantage of the new
regulations. Specifically, wills and trusts done
prior to September 12, 1981, are likely to contain
language that does not allow for a couple to take
full advantage of the unlimited marital deduction.
This may result in unnecessary estate taxation at
the first death.
Family additions, deaths, and divorce are
often not accounted for in out-of-date plans. The
most striking example I have seen was the couple,
both with prior marriages and one with children
from a first marriage, who adopted an infant.
Their old will left their entire estate to the older
children with no mention of support for the
Powers of attorney play an increasingly
important role in estate plans as Americans live
longer, increasing the risk that court ordered
guardianship may be necessary. This expensive
and cumbersome process can be avoided with
proper powers of attorney in place for health care
decisions and financial management. These
documents allow a person of your choosing to
step into your shoes and make decisions for you