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Estate planning will likely prevent dying without having a will

Unbelievably, it has been revealed that the musician Prince had no will at the time of his death. That is considered to be a major mistake by experts in Texas and elsewhere with respect to good estate planning principles. In fact, it is one of the four big mistakes of estate planning, according to some experts, and it demonstrates in this case that celebrities are as prone to procrastination as the rest of us.  

The lack of a will can be devastating to some family members who will not share in a loved one's estate simply because the state statute where the decedent lived will govern the order of distribution of assets. Therefore, even though the decedent may have favored a beloved sibling, that person may go without any inheritance under the state's statutory law. In addition, a living trust is a good idea for those who wish to maintain privacy about their affairs.

Without a living trust, the subject matter of all of the decedent's assets will be open to public scrutiny in the records of the probate court of the local county courthouse. There may also be tax benefits in some cases with the use of a living trust. Another major mistake, according to some experts, is the failure to update one's estate plan. Beneficiaries may no longer be favored by the testator or they may have been in line to share with new additions to the list of heirs. This may be especially true if there has been a death, divorce or a remarriage that has brought new heirs into the picture or eliminated others.

Another major faux pas with respect to estate planning in Texas and elsewhere is the failure to set up a durable power of attorney in order to handle a possible future disability. Without having one's loved one designated in a power of attorney with the authority to sign the incapacitated person's signature, there may be a need to go through excessively expensive gyrations in court. This may include having a guardian appointed to take care of the incapacitated person's affairs.

Source: forbes.com, "Prince Made One Of The 4 Big Estate-Planning Mistakes", Danielle and Andrew Mayoras, April 27, 2016

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