News & Resources: Case Studies

Making Your Last Wishes Matter: A Life Care Plan Case Study

When Margaret and Howard reached out to our team, Margaret had recently been diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer and the doctors explained that with her condition, she was looking at about 6 months to live. Married for 30 years, Margaret and Howard faced this crushing news and had many questions regarding her end-of-life care and […]

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Case Study: Crisis Management

When Paul reached out to the team at Scott Bloom Law, he and his family were in the midst of a crisis, as his father George had come down with pneumonia severe enough to require hospitalization. Unfortunately, the family did not have a plan in place for this contingency and were left with important medical […]

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Case Study: Medicaid Planning

When Martin reached out to the team at Scott Bloom Law, he was concerned about his mother’s Medicaid status after she unexpectedly inherited a large sum of money from her recently deceased aunt. His mother, Mary, had been on Medicaid and homebound for years and Martin, her oldest child and agent via a Power of […]

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Case Study: Young Adult Dependent Program

After her son graduated high school and before he left for college, Beth began to worry about things, as all mothers do. What would happen if her son, Sean, had an accident while away at school? What if he came down with an illness that required hospitalization? How would she and her husband be able […]

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Case Study: Special Needs Estate Planning

In “blended families,” children from a prior relationship live and are often being raised by a newly married couple, and sometimes with the children of that couple as well. Although this situation can be very beneficial for all of the family members and can create a positive and nurturing environment, this type of family structure […]

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Scott Bloom Law Estate Planning Diagram

Case Study: Estate Administration

Sometimes after a loved one passes away, the family learns of things they were unaware of while the loved one was living. This was the case for one of our clients, Sam, after his father Tom Jr. passed away. Sam was always under the impression that the home he had grown up in, and that […]

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Case Study: Life Care Planning

When Terry reached out to Scott Bloom Law, his wife of 40 years, Marilyn, had recently suffered a stroke that left her physically and mentally incapacitated. Though Terry and Marilyn had discussed various scenarios that could arise as they grew older and their health worsened, they never established a concrete plan for steps to be […]

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Case Study: The Young Adult Dependent Program

When Bob reached out to us, he was in the middle of experiencing one of life’s greatest milestones. His daughter Jane, 19 years old and a recent high school graduate, was spending the summer preparing to leave for college. While wondering where all the time had gone, he was undoubtedly excited that his daughter was […]

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Case Study: Crisis Management

When Joan reached out to the team at Scott Bloom Law, she and her family were dealing with a crisis not uncommon amongst many families. About a decade ago, her mother, Maureen, had remarried and a few years after, Maureen and her new stepfather, David, moved in with Joan. Though things were good and cordial […]

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Case Study: Estate Planning

When John and Carol reached out to Scott Bloom Law, they knew that changes had to be made in regards to the living arrangements of their mother, Diane. Living alone, Diane had begun to show signs that many children recognize when their parents are no longer able to take care of themselves. Forgetting to pay […]

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CLIENT Testimonial

It is important to plan your estate to ensure that your assets, interests, and those you love will be protected after your death. However, without proper guidance and advice from a qualified estate planning attorney, many individuals make costly mistakes. Beyond undermining your intent and diminishing your financial legacy, poor planning can create additional stress to your heirs in their time of grief.

Six common errors frequently happen during the estate planning process. These mistakes often occur because the complete financial picture was not fully considered. It is easiest to avoid estate planning mishaps by knowing what they are before you begin or looking for these errors when reviewing and updating your plan.

Financial procrastination causes problems. While examining your mortality and making end-of-life preparations is not a particularly fun activity, try viewing it as helping and enhancing your loved ones' future lives while creating a sense of peace during your own. 

The need to protect your finances using wills, trusts, and power of attorney (POA) documents is not solely the domain of the elderly. Putting off the drafting of legal documents necessary to protect yourself and your inheritors can lead to disastrous outcomes.

By far, failing to create an estate plan is the most common mistake. Even if you do not have a lot of money, you need a will to protect any minor children you have by naming their guardians. Your will also ensures your asset distribution to heirs is carried out according to your intentions when you die and names a representative to handle debt obligations, final taxes, and other estate administrative duties. Dying without a will or "intestate" can lead to dire consequences.

Outdated wills, forms, and POAs create problems. If you made a will twenty years ago and have not reviewed and updated its contents, chances are many of the details no longer reflect current assets or beneficiaries. Estate planning is not a "set it and forget it" proposition. Reviewing estate planning documents and beneficiary forms every two years is generally adequate, barring a major life change such as divorce, birth, death, remarriage, or relocation to another state.

Beneficiaries without coordination can create expensive oversight. Beneficiary forms for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs, annuities, and life insurance policies may constitute a significant portion of your estate's assets. These beneficiary forms are legally binding and will supersede the contents of your will. Failure to update beneficiary forms can lead to an ex-spouse receiving assets that preferably would go to your heirs. Routine checks of all beneficiary designations are best practices for estate planning.

Failing to title trust assets properly can lead to probate. While not everyone requires a trust, those who do must carefully retitle their assets into the name of the trust. Forgetting to add more recently purchased property or opening a new account requires you to title them into the trust to receive trust benefits. Whether real estate, cash, mutual funds, or stocks, if you fail to move the asset into the trust, they become subject to the probate court, possible tax consequences (depending on the trust type), and a public record of these assets.

Life insurance can trigger estate tax. Life insurance can provide heirs with liquidity without the sale of assets and tax consequences when handled correctly. However, if a wealthy individual dies while maintaining ownership of their life insurance policy, they may inadvertently create a tax event for their heirs. Although life insurance death benefits are not subject to state or federal income taxes, any "incident" of ownership by the decedent can create an inheritance tax.

An estate planning attorney can help shelter life insurance proceeds from high-value estates by gifting the policy to an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) or draft a new trust to purchase a new policy where the trust is the owner and beneficiary. A policy owned by the trust does not create a taxable situation to death benefits. Your attorney's careful structuring of this trust type is complex but can provide proper protection.

Joint ownership of assets with your children can lead to disastrous consequences. Naming your children as co-owners of assets, even digital, permits their creditors to access your money. The better way to address the situation is to give your adult child power of attorney and assign them as a beneficiary to a payable on death bank or brokerage account. This tactic permits them to access your funds if required during your lifetime. However, it keeps your assets from your child's estate and away from their potential creditors.

Ultimately the biggest error you can make is not finding the right estate planning attorney to guide you. This specialized attorney receives training on avoiding probate, tax implications, and asset protection if you require long-term care. Proper planning with the right guidance will help you avoid costly estate planning mistakes and protect your family's future financial well-being.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 215-364-1111 to schedule a consultation.

- Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

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