1. Using an inappropriate estate planning mechanism, such as a will where a trust is more appropriate

2. Failing to protect assets from unnecessary taxation

3. Failing to name all beneficiaries

4. Failing to consider spousal rights

5. Failing to properly exclude heirs

6. Failing to identify and include contingent beneficiaries

7. Failing to anticipate the death of a spouse or beneficiary

8. Failing to make necessary assignments, powers of attorney, or trustee designations

This is only a small sampling of mistakes lawyers can make in advising clients on estate planning matters. Estate planning has become highly specialized in recent years, requiring attorneys to have detailed knowledge of state and federal tax laws, state inheritance laws, and an intimate knowledge of a client's assets.

By Thomas W. Dillon

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