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Avoid the dangers of deathbed estate planning

When making your estate plans, it really is better to start planning early. Waiting until you're already ill or on your deathbed is often a big mistake that can leave your family in turmoil after you are gone -- and thwart your final wishes.

Here's why deathbed estate planning can go wrong:

Incorrect or poorly-prepared documents

Too many people rely on forms they find on the internet for their legal documents. Such documents can be incomplete or invalid under certain state laws. Deathbed planning is also often rushed -- which means that the documents you end up with may be missing key provisions or generally inadequate for your needs.

Advance planning gives you time to carefully review your documents for accuracy.

Tax issues that are overlooked

A large part of proper estate planning centers around minimizing the taxes that someone's heirs will have to pay. A will that is quickly executed may not carefully consider all the tax consequences of its terms. That can leave your estate drained of its assets -- and deprive your heirs of the benefits that you intended.

Advance planning will help you pass the majority of your estate down to your heirs as you intend to by giving you time to consult with an accountant and an attorney who has experience with complex estates.

Family conflicts that aren't given time to resolve

Your family may be understandably grief-stricken at your death. That grief can turn into anger, however, if some of them feel blindsided by the terms of your will. With deathbed planning, you don't have the time to make explanations -- and your family members won't have any time to make the emotional adjustments that are necessary for them to accept your decisions.

Simply giving your family members information about your estate plans and the reasons behind your actions early enough for them to make some adjustments to their expectations is often enough to avoid family conflicts.

Take the steps necessary to start your estate planning today -- because it is simply never too early to be prepared.

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