As you’ve seen in previous discussions, Estate Planning can be very complicated and is not something that should be undertaken blindly. So, with that in mind, here are a few more common estate planning mistakes that can be easily avoided:
1. Improperly owned life insurance. Whenever life insurance proceeds are paid to the insured’s estate, these proceeds add to the value of the insured’s estate thereby compounding all sorts of problems. These include increased probate costs; in many states, increased inheritance taxes; and, quite possibly, increased federal estate taxes. All these problems could easily be avoided with a properly structured life insurance policy, i.e., one which is owned outside the estate.
2. When a husband is required by divorce decree to purchase a life insurance policy on his life, he receives no tax deduction for the premiums paid if he owns the policy. The best way to avoid this and to ensure a tax-deduction is for him to increase his tax-deductible alimony payments and to have his ex-wife purchase – and own – the policy on his life.
3. Lack of Liquidity. Most people don’t have the slightest idea of how much it will cost to settle their estate or, worse, how quickly taxes and other expenses need to be paid. Worse still is the “fire sale” of illiquid assets such as real estate or the family business resulting from an insufficiency of cash.
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