Kiplinger

10 Surprising (or Surprisingly Common) Estate Planning Mistakes

When it comes to wills, as a financial planner, I've seen a lot of sad, unfortunate or just plain weird things happen over the years. Poor estate documents can lead to people accidentally cutting loved ones out of inheritances, paying big tax bills unnecessarily and saddling families with expensive, head-scratching legal battles.

Here are 10 mistakes -- some you can probably guess, but others you've probably never heard of -- people tend to make when planning their estates.

1. Beneficiary blunders.

Not naming a contingent beneficiary on retirement accounts and insurance policies -- or failing to review beneficiaries often enough -- is my clients' No. 1 mistake. The default if no contingent is picked is likely your estate, which may be subject to probate, creditors, delays, etc. No contingent beneficiary on an IRA means NO -- a valuable tax break

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