When planning your estate, it’s important to ensure that you complete it properly so your wishes are respected and your family will not be left with an estate hassle after you pass away.
In my 20+ years of legal experience, I have witnessed cases where relatives of a deceased are left to sort out complicated or incorrectly done estate plans during one of their most difficult moments of grieving.
I’ve seen what works and what doesn't in the aftermath that is probate court. If you want to make sure that your estate planning clearly understood, unshakeable, and provides the best possible footing for your assets, it's important to prepare carefully and avoid these six common estate planning mistakes.
1) Thinking You Don't Need a Will
A will is a very special document that holds the final wishes of someone who can no longer speak for himself. Unlike all your other financial and asset arrangements, only the will has the power to make certain decisions for you as to what is done and how your assets are managed.
Even if you have a living trust, only a will can name guardians for your children. So, even where a trust exists, it is vital to have a pour over will in place.
2) Not Updating Your Estate Plan
Whether you write your estate plan on your own or with the help of an attorney, it must be updated and revisited.
Life happens and more than likely your assets change with it. An outdated estate plan will not be able to accurately address your new life circumstances and will at best leave new assets in limbo and at worst could cut new family members out of inheritance.
At minimum, update your will and your trust if:
- Your marital status changes
- You have a new child
- A beneficiary passes away
- You acquire significant new assets
3) Rushing or Procrastinating
If you put your estate plan together in a rush without taking the time to consider every asset, possibility, and way to make things easier for your family, you are likely to miss something crucial.
Estate planning should take time of careful research and well thought plans to make sure you don't forget anything.
However, the other extreme is also bad news. Procrastinating your estate planning is a good way to leave your family completely unprepared.
If you die without an estate plan, the state will give all your assets to your most immediate next of kin with no consideration for your wishes or personal relationships.
4) Believing Your Estate Is Too Small
Often, I've spoken with clients who believed they only needed a will. They arrived to this conclusion because they believed that their estate was too small for a trust to make sense for them.
However, estate planning does not depend on how much you have. Rather, it's about how you can best manage what you do have.
Though, your net worth may provide an indication of the type of estate plan that is most appropriate for you, it does not indicate that you should not properly plan.
5) Believing You Are Too Young to Start Now
I've also spoken to many clients who believe estate planning is something you tackle later in life. It's important to plan for the unexpected, no matter your age.
If you're over the age of 18, you should seriously consider having an estate plan. Estate planning becomes especially important when you become a parent. Just like life insurance, a proper estate plan can care for your loved ones if an unexpected passing were to occur.
6) Not Planning for Incompetence
Though the common perception is that estate planning is only planning for your passing, your estate plan should have provisions if you were to become mentally incompetent.
Probate guardianship proceedings for a mentally incompetent adult can prove to be costly, but a proper estate plan can avoid this problem.
Get Expert Advice from a Lawyer that Specializes in Living Trusts
Whether you're getting started early on your estate plan or tying up loose ends, it's important to cover all your bases when planning your estate.
Common knowledge is one of the biggest hurdles to optimal estate planning and here at Port Legal, we do our best to help every client fully understand the best plan for their estate, family, business and personal desires.
For more helpful information about planning your estate, please contact us today.