Congratulations! If you actually have a trust or will, that separates you from about 74% of Americans who do not. Your thinking ahead, and that is good.
However, most estate planning documents need to be taken out of the box, dusted off and reviewed once in a while. Life is full of changes. These changes affect not only your life, but what you may want to have happen to your property at your death.
We all know that having a Last Will is one way to make certain that your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets are followed. Once you have everything in place, you can breathe easy, right?
Well, maybe not! Here are some common mistakes people make in wills. These mistakes are more common than you might think. Even esteemed Chief Justice Warren Burger made a mistake. When he died in 1995, he failed to provide for estate taxes and to include a grant of powers to his executors in his self-written will costing his estate thousands of dollars.
I recently read an article by David Hiersekorn, J.D. about on-line trusts. He notes at the end of his article that “You only get to use an estate plan once. If you screw it up, you’ll never know, but your family will.”
Okay, so I am an estate planning attorney, so I may be a bit biased. You are also probably thinking that since I am an attorney I like to make lots of money and so I want you to come to me so that I can charge you a lot more instead of letting you do things online for yourself. That is a bit cynical, but I thought it best to acknowledge it. Let me say this up front. I take pride in my work and try to charge a reasonable fee based upon the time I spend on a job, as well as my training, education and experience.
This article will discuss a routine auto accident, but many of these principles apply to other kinds of accidents as well. I’m going to avoid the obvious things like staying calm, first aid, etc., and get to the things many people don’t think about.
Get names, addresses, phone numbers and driver’s license numbers of anyone who is involved in the incident or who may have witnessed it. If they have a vehicle, note its make and model and license number. All of these things will help find those responsible or who may help us determine what happened. Don’t assume they are telling you the truth, look at a license or other ID if you can (even witnesses). You can say, “Why don’t I just take a picture of your ID instead of writing all this down?”
Yes, you do. You are up against trained professionals, and you are going to need help.
As my dad used to say, “if everyone were honest, I wouldn’t need to lock my car”. I’m not saying all claims adjusters try to cheat you. But I am saying that they are trained professionals whose duty is to protect their companies’ interests, not yours. Its not just that you can’t tell from a ten minute phone conversation which ones are honest; my advice is don’t trust any of them. Remember, its their job to get the claim settled and pay you as little as possible to do so. Need convincing? Just ask one of them to commit, in writing, to paying your medical bills and leave the other claims open to settle later.