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Don't Make A Move
Without Knowing Your Options

Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

If the time is right for you to create your estate plan, there are certain elements to consider.

Here are four common mistakes you can avoid and retain estate planning control.

1. Forgetting about long-term care

The cost for home health care aides averages $50,000 per year. A private room in a nursing facility runs more than $100,000 per year. You must remember that 70% of people over the age of 65 will need long-term care. In view of this, you should investigate long-term health insurance early on since the cost increases every year.

2. Not planning for minors

You need to ensure proper care for minor children in the event of your unexpected death. You can designate a guardian in your will—but first, ask the person you name if they will agree to take on this responsibility.

3. Avoiding the impact of taxes

In California, the Franchise Tax Board does not levy estate taxes as such on an inheritance. However, your beneficiaries will have to pay income tax on certain assets. Inherited accounts such as a 401(k) are subject to required minimum distributions or RMDs, which are taxed as ordinary income. You can avoid this on behalf of your heirs with a Roth IRA conversion during your lifetime. Your attorney or accountant can help you understand how this works.

4. Failing to update your plan

Life is full of major happenings, and some are significant enough to affect your estate plan. For example, if you have a new grandchild, if you divorce or if a beneficiary dies, you should make the appropriate changes. A good rule of thumb is to consider an update every three to five years. Avoid mistakes, keep the information current and you will remain in control of your estate planning responsibilities.

An executor plays an important role in your estate plan. This person assumes the responsibility of closing your estate at the time of your death.

Considering the number of responsibilities an executor oversees, you will want someone you trust to fill this role. Looking for specific characteristics might improve your confidence that you have found the right person for the job.


The person responsible for closing your estate will handle a lot of sensitive information. This could include access to your bank accounts, investments and other assets. You will want an executor who has integrity and will honor and respect your final wishes. The person you choose should treat you with dignity, as well as show respect and compassion to your family members.

Speaking with your executor ahead of time is a great way to reiterate your intentions. Highlight your wishes for an ethical and timely closing of your estate on behalf of the people you care most about. Discussing your expectations at the start may improve your executor’s understanding.

Attention to detail

Even one missing detail during the closure of your estate can have detrimental consequences. According to CNN, some responsibilities of an executor may include the following:

  • Filing tax returns
  • Processing claims from creditors
  • Distributing your property to heirs

Finding someone with impeccable attention to detail can provide reassurance. Other characteristics that you might also want to look for include organization, patience, financial stability and empathy. Your decision to think carefully about who you name as an executor right now, could be the only reason your surviving family members have a successful outcome later on.

A divorce is an ideal solution when you are involved in a toxic or combative relationship. However, when you have children, you still have to work with him or her to parent your kids effectively.

Co-parenting is not an option for all parents. If communication between you and your ex quickly devolves into fighting, parallel parenting may be your only option. According to Healthline, parallel parenting allows you to focus on the kids while minimizing the risk of fighting.

Write everything out

You should have a plan for everything. Your parenting plan needs to be highly detailed so no one has room to argue. For instance, there should be clear pick-up and drop-off times, with detailed instructions on handling it if one of you is late. You should have specific instructions for handling birthdays, holidays and other special events. In addition to planning everything that could force you to talk with your ex, you should also prepare for what happens if you have a dispute. There should be instructions on how to handle conflict.

Limit your communication

Parallel parenting does not involve a lot of communication. You exchange your kids in a neutral place without leaving the vehicle, attend school events separately and even plan appointments without one another. Consider having a book for your kid to bring back and forth where you can input milestones, meetings, medical conditions or other areas of interest.

If you have to talk to your ex, try to keep it between text and email. You may want to use an app that allows you to save every message or that can read tone to prevent fighting through messages.