Estate Planning Mistakes

Today, we have the privilege of delving into the intricate world of estate planning with the brilliant Vanessa Terzian, a seasoned attorney specializing in Estate Planning and probate. With years of invaluable experience, Vanessa graciously shares her wealth of knowledge, highlighting common estate planning pitfalls and offering indispensable insights. In this in-depth exploration, we’ll dissect these pitfalls, learning essential lessons from her interview to guide us towards more prudent estate planning decisions.

Understanding the Common Estate Planning Mistakes:

1. Inadequate Consideration of Trustees:

  • The Issue: Often, individuals name trustees without evaluating their compatibility, leading to conflicts, especially in cases of co-trusteeship.
  • Vanessa’s Insight: Vanessa stresses the significance of compatible trustees. She advocates for a thorough evaluation of potential conflicts and suggests exploring the option of a third-party trustee. This strategic move prevents deadlocks and ensures smoother decision-making processes, safeguarding the integrity of the estate.

2. Complex Trust Structures Leading to Litigation:

  • The Issue: Overly complicated trusts can lead to disputes, primarily when provisions regarding asset distribution are vague.
  • Vanessa’s Insight: Practicality should always triumph over complexity. Clear, concise language is pivotal in ensuring that the trust’s intentions align seamlessly with practical implementation. A transparent and straightforward approach minimizes the chances of disputes and legal complications down the line.

3. Unaddressed Practical Aspects of Trusts:

  • The Issue: Granting life estates without considering the associated maintenance costs can render real estate assets unmarketable.
  • Vanessa’s Insight: It’s imperative to consider practical implications, such as ongoing expenses, to avoid burdening beneficiaries with unexpected costs. A well-thought-out plan encompasses all financial aspects, ensuring that the trust remains sustainable and beneficial for all involved parties.

4. Lack of Communication and Surprise Elements:

  • The Issue: Families often neglect discussions about estate plans, leading to shock and confusion among beneficiaries during implementation.
  • Vanessa’s Insight: Open communication serves as the cornerstone of successful estate planning. Vanessa emphasizes the importance of transparent conversations with family members and beneficiaries. These discussions manage expectations, prevent posthumous surprises, and foster a harmonious transition of assets.

5. Guardianship Issues for Minor Children:

  • The Issue: Unclear guardian nominations for minor children, especially in cases of divorce or separation, can create confusion and legal complications.
  • Vanessa’s Insight: Careful consideration is paramount in this aspect of estate planning. It’s not merely about naming guardians but also planning for contingencies. Vanessa advocates for thorough consideration, ensuring a stable environment for children in various scenarios, thereby safeguarding their well-being.


In the labyrinthine world of Estate Planning, foresight, transparency, and effective communication are paramount. Learning from the seasoned expertise of professionals like Vanessa Terzian equips us with invaluable knowledge, guiding us away from unnecessary complications. As you embark on your estate planning journey, heed these priceless insights. Seek the counsel of trusted advisors, and remember, a well-thought-out estate plan is not just a legal document; it’s a legacy of wisdom and care for generations to come. Happy planning!

🗣️Notable Quotes:

“Statistically 70% of Estate Plans fail. To prevent that, we have to discuss the plan to prepare the key role players like the Trustee, beneficiaries, or heirs on how this plan is going to be implemented.”

📇Connecting with Vanessa:



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DISCLAIMER: The Probate Realtor® Matias Baker Masucci is a licensed real estate broker in California DRE # 02054763. Any legal information provided is for informational purposes only and NOT for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal issue or problem. We make no guarantees as to the accuracy of any information.

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