Creating an estate plan to protect your loved ones, assets, and interests in the event of your passing is important. It can give you peace of mind to know that the people you love will be taken care of after you’re gone. However, poor planning can undermine your efforts and leave your beneficiaries struggling to get what should be theirs.
Below are five of the most common mistakes estate attorneys see people make while preparing their estates, and how to avoid making them yourself.
Not Creating an Estate Plan
Perhaps the single most common mistake in estate planning is not creating one at all. No one wants to plan for their death. However, if you don’t take the time to create a solid plan, your loved ones will suffer the consequences.
Don’t place your family in a stressful situation. Set aside the necessary time to create your estate plan now. If you have already made a plan but it’s been many years or you’ve had a major life change since you did so, it might be time for an update.
Not Talking to Your Family About Your Plans
Typically, it’s a good idea to discuss your estate plan with family and friends. If you’re leaving money, assets, or property to any of them, you may want to tell them, so they know what to expect. Being open about your plans also diminishes the chances that someone might contest them in court, bringing unnecessary conflict to an already difficult situation.
As you begin to plan your estate, talk about the specifics with loved ones to avoid potential problems. Be sure to clearly state what you want to happen when you pass away, so there are no surprises for anyone. It’s particularly crucial to inform whoever you designate as a trustee or executor of your plans.
Forgetting to Name a Power of Attorney and Healthcare Agent
Estate planning doesn’t just involve making decisions about what happens when you die. It also involves designating someone to make crucial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. If you don’t grant someone power of attorney or designate a healthcare proxy, someone you don’t know or trust could wind up making important decisions about your health and your finances on your behalf.
Not Considering Your Children’s Needs
It’s only natural to want to leave your most meaningful possessions to your child(ren) so that they have something tangible to remember you by after your passing. However, it may be a mistake to assume that the items that are important to you are equally important to them. Something you consider to be an invaluable heirloom could be a costly obligation to your child. Furthermore, if you have several children, your division of assets could lead to arguments and hurt feelings down the road.
Whether you have one or multiple children, sit each one down separately to talk about your assets. Ask them if they would want to own any or share ownership with a sibling. This could prevent disputes and unnecessary legal cases in the future.
Not Updating Your Estate Plan
The longer it’s been since you created or last updated your estate plan, the more likely it is that certain assets or obligations are not accounted for. You should update your legal documents regularly to reflect significant life events, such as a new beneficiary, the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or the death of a relative, and so forth.
The best way to avoid making these estate planning mistakes is to seek assistance from an experienced lawyer. Contact us today to discuss your needs with a compassionate estate law attorney. To schedule an appointment with one of our estate attorneys, call our law firm at 888-719-5589.
If you would like to learn more about how you can make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family if anything were to happen to you, click here for our free workshop.