In my years of estate planning, it’s not difficult identifying the two most common estate planning pitfalls.  The most obvious pitfall, not requiring an Einstein to figure out, is that individuals just simply fail to do it.  I’m always amazed that while we all know and have heard the old saying “the only thing certain in life is death and taxes,” so few really grasp that death, too, will come to them.  Perhaps it’s estate planners’ humor, but I like to remind people ‘we’re not getting out of this alive’ (myself, of course, included).

I’ve found with clients, whether married couples or singles, that a triggering event to get their estate planning done is the loss of the last parent.  It’s at that point the realization comes, they’re the next generation in line to go.  Another common triggering event is when someone in their immediate family dies without having done their estate planning (called dying ‘intestate’).  Then, there’s the teeth gnashing when it’s found that the family now has to go through a probate – the formal process of settling an estate.  That’s time consuming and costly.

The second most common pitfall is wrongly assuming that executing a Will or a little more ‘advanced’ a Trust solves all estate planning issues.  Not so. Along with the Will or Trust, it’s important to properly title all assets. The most common asset that individuals fail to title, which draws individuals into a probate, is real estate – often the home; however, it could also be the cabin or raw land.  One of the simplest means of titling real estate, such as a home, is through a device known as a Transfer on Death Deed (T.O.D.D.).  Sadly, so many families that come to me to do their family’s probate (ones I didn’t do estate planning for), is because they failed to properly address real estate.

So, in conclusion, the two most common estate planning pitfalls are:

  • Failing to do any estate planning; and
  • Failing to properly title real estate.

Dahlberg Law Office P.A. would love to help you with your estate planning.  Remember, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

1st:  Call (218- 722-5809) or email ( for an appointment.  Appointments generally run one hour;

2nd: Show up; and

3rd Return later to execute.  This generally lasts 20-40 minutes.

Oh, you could add a 4th Step, tongue-and-cheek: gloating to your family and friends that you’ve taken care of business.

Best to you, and I hope you get this important task done – whether or not you choose Dahlberg Law Office.

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