The Seven Deadly Sins of Estate Planning
Byline: Sharon Mulder Contributing Writer
Estate planning is both a science and an art, attorney Russel G. Robinson told 300 attendees at the annual Trust Company of Illinois Spring Conference recently held in Naperville.
"People are familiar with estate planning documents -- the will, the trust, the power of attorney, the insurance policies -- but they often fail to answer the less technical, but very critical, question of 'Who takes care of things when something happens?'"
For 30 years Robinson, a Hoffman Estates attorney and counselor who focuses on business and estate planning, has seen most estate planning problems revolve around people issues which he calls the Seven Deadly Sins of Estate Planning.
* Sin No. 1: Ignoring the People Side of Planning: Preoccupation with all the technical questions involving laws, and taxes and paperwork does not mean your support network is in place.
In today's complex world your estate plan must have three roles filled by people you specifically designate: a financial adviser, an accountant and an attorney.
Select these advisers carefully, and include them in your planning, so everyone is ready well in advance of a disability or death.
* Sin No. 2: Planning Driven by Tax and Probate Avoidance versus Distribution: There is an art to putting together a distribution plan that makes sense for both your estate and your heirs.
For example, should a college student inherit everything in one lump sum or would staggered payments be more prudent? Distribution timing, incentives and disincentives, and asset protection for unexpected disasters carry implications which go far beyond the typical desires of avoiding taxes and probate.
* Sin No. 3: Distributing Based on Percentages Instead of the Real Dollars/Assets: Estate planning requires accurate calculation of assets. Using true numbers allows you to consider how much inheritance is enough and what is to be done with what is left.
Should funds be delineated for specific uses -- such as education -- and should there be incentives for assets left in trust for following generations? …