5 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid for a Smooth Journey

Creating an estate plan can feel like navigating a complex maze. One wrong turn could undermine your intentions and leave your family embroiled in disputes. After nearly 30 years practicing estate planning law, I’ve seen certain mistakes made again and again. Avoid the following pitfalls so your estate plan can proceed smoothly.

1. Delaying the Planning Process

It’s tempting to push estate planning to the back burner. After all, it’s not an urgent or enjoyable task for most. However, postponing the process leaves you and your family vulnerable. Should an unexpected tragedy strike, not having key documents like a will and durable power of attorney in place can derail your wishes entirely. Begin your estate planning now, no matter your age. Being prepared with a plan removes significant stress for you and loved ones down the road.

2. Failing to Update Outdated Documents

Another roadblock I often see is clients letting their estate documents become outdated. Major life events like a marriage, divorce, or new child should all trigger a document review. If your will, trust, and beneficiary designations don’t align with your current wishes, you’re leaving room for error and potential family disputes over your estate. Set reminders to revisit your plan with an attorney every 3-5 years at minimum, or more often after a major life change.

3. Overlooking Incapacity Planning

While estate plans often focus on end-of-life matters, planning for possible incapacity is equally important. Whether from illness or accident, you or your spouse could one day be unable to make decisions. Without documents like a durable power of attorney or healthcare directive in place, court intervention may be required for even basic financial and medical decisions. Don’t leave your family saddled with this burden. Proactively plan so your care preferences can be honored.

4. Trying a DIY Estate Plan

I understand the appeal of do-it-yourself estate planning. But premade online templates simply cannot provide the customized legal strategies and protections a lawyer can. Small oversights in DIY plans can trigger large financial and emotional costs later on. Invest in expert guidance now to save your family headaches and disputes down the road.

5. Not Protecting Your Home and Retirement Nest Egg from Long-Term Care Costs

Finally, a less understood but critical mistake is failing to protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs. Basic wills or trusts will not protect your home and retirement nest egg if you and/or your spouse need long-term or nursing home care. A tailored plan incorporating options like a family asset protection trust can help you protect your assets while still qualifying for the benefits you need.

Don't let a misstep derail your estate planning intentions. At Roulet Law Firm, P.A. we can help you craft a plan tailored for your unique situation and goals. If you are ready to get a plan in place, or to update your existing one, call us today at our Minnetonka, MN office at (763) 420-5087 or our Venice, FL office at (941) 909-4644  or fill out the contact form on this page and a member of our team will contact you to schedule an appointment.

And if you are not yet ready to schedule, and have additional questions, here are some additional resources for you. 


If you would like to learn how to make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family to manage your affairs during incapacity and after passing, while ensuring your assets only go to whom you want and how you want, click here to register for our FREE online masterclass.

And, if you would like to learn how to protect your home and life savings from long-term care and nursing home costs, click here to download our FREE guide Save our Home: How to Protect Your Home and Life Savings From Long-Term Care and Nursing Home Costs.

Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker
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