Here are some of the recurring themes from 2014:

  1. failure to plan for possible loss of decision-making capacity (or leaving planning until it’s too late);
  2. failure to plan for death (it will happen);
  3. failure to realise or to accept that estate planning can be very difficult, but that there can be acceptable solutions (but being realistic is fundamental to the process);
  4. failure to understand that estate planning is not just about having a will (it’s about making sure all of the ducks line up);
  5. planning for blended families (second marriages provide particular challenges);
  6. failure to appreciate that will-drafting requires specialist skills (some of the worst wills I have seen were drafted by lawyers);
  7. appointing all of the children executors (if they don’t get on now, it will be worse later);
  8. will-makers who have no children or grandchildren, no siblings, no-one to whom to leave wealth;
  9. bullying of, or taking advantage of vulnerable, elderly parents or friends;
  10. attorneys breaching their duties (often unintentionally), a growing area of deceased estate disputes.

I have written about many of these topics in past posts, but will expand some more on them in 2015.