As federal employees you have kept us safe, gotten us educated, and kept us moving. Please remember, that while you are working hard to take care of us, you also need to take care of your loved ones with a good estate plan. The following list of mistakes is not in any particular order or importance or priority.
Mistake #1: Failing to make a plan.
Failing to plan is planning to fail. You specifically, NEED an estate plan.
Mistake #2: Failing to update your plan.
If you have a will, you are head and shoulders ahead of your peers, but if your plan isn’t complete or isn’t up to date it may not do what you need it to.
Mistake #3: Underestimating the power of trusts.
A trust is a powerful tool. It can avoid probate, it can make sure you don’t have to call 18 different places to make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date, and in some cases it can protect your property from creditors AND stupidity.
Mistake #4: Not understanding the tax consequences of your actions.
There are some actions you can take in an attempt to provide for your loved ones are provided for can create a huge tax bill and a bigger headache for them.
Mistake #5: Penny smart, Pound foolish.
There is a significant difference between a one-sized fits all, fill in the blank form on the internet and an estate plan made to protect your family. Don’t be fooled.
Mistake #6: Failure to plan for “incapacity” while employed and when retired.
Employees need to consider purchasing long-term disability income insurance that will replace (in most cases tax-free) as much as 60 percent of an employee’s gross salary in the event the employee suffers a long-term disability.
Mistake #7: The “my brother will take care of it” fallacy.
Remember, if you leave property to another person in a will or through a TOD designation, as a matter of law, they own that property when you die. They may do exactly what you want them to, but they have no legal duty to and your loved ones have no legal recourse if they don’t.