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Estate Planning Mistakes

The secure financial future you created for your loved ones can be undone if your estate plan contains mistakes. At Kennedy & Jackson, located in Houston, our attorneys have reviewed hundreds of estate plans for our clients. We find that many contain costly errors.

Unfortunately, many people use boilerplate estate planning documents or rely on family attorneys who have little experience in estate and probate law to draft their estate plans. To do so can give you a false sense of security and in some cases can even be worse than no planning. Our attorneys are board-certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

The following are examples of common estate planning mistakes:

  • Failing to plan for incapacity. Most people go through a period of incapacity before they die. Simple documents such as powers or attorney and health care directives can protect your family members from the need for a costly and humiliating procedure known as guardianship.
  • Estate planning with wills rather than trusts. Wills have to go through probate, a process that can result in delays, additional costs and unwelcome publicity into your family’s financial affairs. The process can be onerous, especially if you own property in more than one state. If you keep assets in a revocable living trust, you can avoid probate.
  • Keeping property in transfer on death (TOD) and payable on death (POD). While these non-probate transfers allow you to avoid probate, placing those assets in a trust offers better protection from issues like taxes, lawsuits and divorce.
  • Distributing assets directly to beneficiaries. Most wills and trusts distribute assets directly to beneficiaries upon your death. Once those assets are distributed, they lose any protection they might have had. Distributing assets in a beneficiary trust keeps them safe from creditors and ex-spouses.
  • Failing to update estate plans. The estate plan that served your needs when you were 30 may not serve your needs today.
  • Not discussing your estate plan with your family.Discussing your estate plan with your family now can prevent misunderstandings and disputes later.


Our law office is located in the Galleria area of Houston, with free on-site parking available next to our office building. We provide a free — and confidential — initial consultation to all new potential clients to discuss estate planning errors.

To schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers, call 713-783-7444 or send us an email.