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Leigh Hiltion, Denton Estate Planning Lawyer
Top 12 Estate Planning Mistakes - #1 Failing to Address Healthcare Decisions
One of the more popular speeches that I give is on the Top 12 Estate Planning Mistakes—How to Detect and Avoid Them. In this series of articles, I am going to cover one mistake per newsletter.

The first mistake we will cover is failing to address healthcare decisions. The mistake is actually failing to address healthcare decisions before the need arises.

A lady came into my office and said, "My neighbor is in the hospital unconscious. We have lived next door to each other for 30 years and we are best friends. I went to the hospital and the doctors won't tell me what is happening with her. Her "no-good" son who she hasn't seen in over 15 years is now in town and that is who the doctors are allowing to make decisions for her. Is there a way for us to go to court and get me the right to make her medical decisions for her, because I know that is what she would want?"

Unfortunately, my answer had to be that there was nothing we could do now, because her neighbor didn't have the proper documents in place. Without those documents immediate family members are the ones who are allowed to make those decisions. Prior to becoming incapacitated, the neighbor could have signed documents allowing her friend to make medical decisions for her. If she didn't want her son to make decisions, she could have signed documents indicating that in no event would that son have the ability to make decisions for her.

Read more about avoiding this mistake on her blog.

Seven Steps to Take After Losing a Loved One

After we lose a loved one in the family, the last thing we want to worry about is taking care of his or her estate. As harsh as it seems, if you are the estate's administrator, you really must start handling your loved one's estate as soon as possible. Estate distribution is laden with paperwork as well as very strict deadlines, and if any mistakes are made or steps are missed, it can cause financial difficulties and delays for everyone involved. Before you attempt to sort out what needs to be done first, here are seven steps you should take—in order—to get your estate administration on the right foot from the get go and avoid costly mistakes.

Take an Inventory of Decedent's Property and Important Documents

It's definitely hard to remember all of the decedent's property, even if the decedent was your spouse and you share it! It's even harder to try to think of all the possible important documents the decedent had, especially if you are still in mourning. The following are two checklists, one for property and one for documents, that you can use to help jog your memory and ensure that you do not forget anything important and required for the administration process.

To see all of the seven steps you should take after losing a loved one, please visit our blog.

Thank you for the referrals!
  • Andy Tuttle
  • Mike Gregory
  • Sean Kelleher
  • Yvonne Bennett
  • Glenda McCormick
  • Carol Larkin
  • Virginia McDaniel
  • Larry Schneider
  • Ray Croff
  • Sonja Rogers
  • Steve Martinez
  • Buck & Judy Powell
  • Carl Deaton
  • Barbara Nance
  • Jody Massey
  • Pam Rainey
  • Geri Sams
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You are receiving this email because you are a client or associate of Leigh Hilton. This information has been provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. The receipt of this information does not establish an attorney client privilege. Proper legal advice can only be given upon consideration of all the relevant facts and the law. Therefore, you should not act upon any information contained herein without seeking appropriate legal counsel.
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