Whether you’re crafting an estate plan for the first time or updating your existing will or trust, the goal is the same: to leave your loved ones well-cared-for in the event of your passing. By familiarizing yourself with some of the most common estate planning errors people make, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out properly and that your legacy is protected. Let’s take a closer look at the five of the most common estate planning mistakes people make, and how to avoid them.
Failing to Properly Plan
Perhaps the biggest estate planning mistake people make is failing to plan at all. Many people put off this important task for years, and some never get around to it all, or fail to complete it. But by leaving no will or trust in place, you could be putting your loved ones in jeopardy.
If you have not taken the time to complete your estate plan or have not updated your plan in the last five years, consider doing so as soon as possible. Working with an estate planning attorney can expedite the process and bring the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will be cared for after your passing.
Failing to Fully Consider Your Kids’ Needs and Wants
When it comes to your children, you should be as specific as possible, especially if they’re still young. You may want to leave instructions for how your assets should be spent regarding the care and upbringing of your child
or children. You should also think about what you will leave to your children, and outline stipulations that must be met for your child to receive their inheritance.
You might also believe that your children will want to inherit a particular item that they do not, potentially saddling them with an unwanted burden rather than gifting them a cherished treasure. For instance, what if you own a home that you plan to pass down to them, but it’s far from where they live and they’re uninterested in paying for the care and upkeep of a property they won’t use? By discussing these matters with your loved ones and being as specific as possible in the wording of your will or trust, you can ensure that your desires are carried out according to your wishes.
Failing to Plan for Final Arrangements
Considering the specifics of your funeral and burial may make you uncomfortable. But by planning for them ahead of time, you can ease the burden on your family after your passing. This will be a difficult time for your loved ones, and anything you can do now to prepare for it will take some of that painful burden from their shoulders. You can also plan for other final arrangements such as end-of-life care.
When planning for final arrangements, consider describing your desired memorial in writing. It will be a relief to your loved ones to know exactly what you wanted rather than being left to guess. All of the documentation concerning your final arrangements can be included in your overall estate plan.
Neglecting to Name Multiple Beneficiaries
When planning your estate, you should strongly consider naming multiple beneficiaries. Designating just one beneficiary is risky because the beneficiary could pass away before you, and having someone next in line (that is, a contingent beneficiary) will help the executor of your estate know what to do in the event that the primary beneficiary has predeceased you. In addition to your primary beneficiary, be sure to include one or more contingent beneficiaries in your will or trust.
Neglecting to Discuss The Plan With Your Family
Consider sitting down with your loved ones and discussing the estate plan with them. Taking the opportunity to make your wishes known and outline your expectations in person could prevent disputes from occurring between family members after you pass away. You should discuss your estate plan with all of your beneficiaries, your spouse, the executor of your estate, and any other relevant individuals.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
If you are ready to begin planning your estate or have any questions about the process, contact one of the compassionate estate planning attorneys at Mullen Holland & Cooper today for a consultation.