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Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Among the more common estate planning mistakes that increase probate expenses are the following:

  1. Failing to have a Will properly witnessed;
  2. Omitting to name a child or spouse as a beneficiary without making it clear that you did so intentionally;
  3. Failing to incorporate tax planning provisions if your estate is larger than the federal exemption for individuals to keep estate taxes as low as possible.
  4. Failing to include a Special Needs Trust for any handicapped child or children.
  5. Failing to provide for contingent beneficiaries if any of you beneficiaries predecease you.
  6. Failing to name an alternate Personal Representative in the event the Personal Representative you name predeceases you.
  7. Failing to provide trust provisions for any minor beneficiary.
  8. Failing to name a Guardian for minor children if the other parent is deceased.
  9. Failing to provide a residuary beneficiary clause in your Will.
  10. Failing to have the signatures of witnesses to the Will notarized.

Don't get caught dead without a Will or other appropriate estate planning! Make an appointment as soon as possible with an estate planning attorney to get your estate in order. Your family and other beneficiaries will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Dan Marsh is an attorney with Marsh, Higgins, Beaty & Hatch, P.C. Dan can be reached by telephone at (360) 695-7909 or by e-mail at The firm website is

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Marsh, Higgins, Beaty & Hatch, P.C.
1112 Daniels Street, Suite 200
Vancouver, WA 98660

Toll Free: 866-678-1372
Phone: 360-450-0993
Fax: 360-694-1758
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