March 26, 2015 in Retirement

5 wise estate-planning steps

When actor Mickey Rooney died in 2014, he didn’t have much money to divide. Instead, his family fought over where he would be buried — in the family plot or in Hollywood. There was no formal burial agreement in place, setting off the feud between two factions of his family.

You don’t have to be famous to inadvertently facilitate this kind of ugly — and costly — argument among family members after you die, says Stephanie Zaffos, an attorney and director of trust and estate planning for Convergent Wealth Advisors in Los Angeles. The best way to avoid it is to have a clear and comprehensive estate plan that leaves little room for dispute. “A little planning can go a long way,” Zaffos says, “making the process simple, increasing wealth through tax savings and enhancing peace of mind.”

Zaffos offers these five steps that she believe everyone should take, whether they have a big estate or a small one:

“Estate plans aren’t just for the wealthy,” Zaffos says. “Everybody needs to plan for what will happen when they pass away.”

Updating an estate plan is important. Avoid making these estate planning mistakes.