Here at the Law Office of David M. Goldman, we come across many estate-planning problems that can be avoided by careful planning and forethought. With higher estate tax exemptions most individuals don’t have to consider avoiding estate taxes, so we often recommend a person’s estate planning goal be to leave behind a legacy that will preserve and protect your family.
A common mistake clients often make is to not name a contingent beneficiary of a retirement account or bank account. Generally, every retirement account requires a person to name a beneficiary, but a problem can arise if this named person passes before the retirement account holder. Always specify at least one contingent beneficiary to inherit the account if the primary beneficiary dies before you. It is also important to learn the difference between “per stirpes” and “pro rata” designations. Per stirpes means that if the named beneficiary dies, that person’s family inherits what the dead person would have inherited. Pro rata means the inheritance goes to the other surviving named beneficiaries. With the recent Supreme court decision, we often recommend that your trust be the primary beneficiary of your retirement accounts to avoid loss to the creditors of the beneficiaries. Continue reading