People make mistakes when it comes to estate planning all of the time. Estate planning involves much more than deciding who will receive what after you’ve gone. It’s important to consider the bigger picture and to understand how a comprehensive estate plan can benefit both you and your loved ones.
The following are five estate planning mistakes to avoid. You should always discuss any estate planning concerns you may have with a skilled legal professional.
1. Not having an estate plan
It’s a widely held belief that estate planning only benefits the wealthy. But estate planning is not merely about your assets. It can also address your wishes concerning your healthcare decisions if you’re ever unable to speak for yourself. It can also name a trusted individual to care for your minor children should a tragedy ever strike. Consider an estate plan to be a personal type of insurance policy.
2. Doing it yourself
There is no shortage of pre-printed estate planning forms available on the internet. However, a proper estate plan should be as unique as yourself and your family. A “canned” form is simply incapable of capturing the nuances of each person’s situation. What little money you save by using a DIY form can be wiped out if a dispute arises over a document or if your estate has to go through a lengthy probate process.
3. Waiting too long
Thinking about your mortality is not the most pleasant of thoughts. It’s especially difficult to conceive when you’re relatively young. However, time moves swiftly, and our circumstances can change even faster. It’s never too early to start thinking about your estate plan. It’s especially important to get the ball rolling once you have established a family.
4. Giving little thought to who will administer your estate
Naming an estate administrator is often an afterthought for many people. Most people believe their spouse or another family member will be suited to the task. However, if an individual is too personally invested in the task, problems can arise. Give some serious thought to who you will trust to take care of your estate when you’re gone.
5. Never revisiting your estate plan
Estate planning should never be a one-time-only process. It’s helpful to review your estate plan every few years, and it’s essential to do so anytime you’ve experienced a significant change in your life. Things may become uncomfortable quickly if you created an estate plan 35 years ago, and you’ve left all of your assets to a person you divorced 30 years ago.