To many, the estate planning process seems straightforward, requiring nothing more than a will, if that. But bypassing the estate planning process or making an estate plan that’s too limited can put you, your loved ones, and your estate at risk.
To avoid that from happening, you need to be cognizant of some of the most commonly made mistakes during the estate planning process. By educating yourself about these pitfalls and how to avoid them, you can provide stronger protection for yourself and better ensure that your vision of the future turns into reality.
What mistakes do you need to avoid?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of mistakes that can be made during the estate planning process. Here are some of the biggest that you’ll want to be sure to avoid:
- Not planning at all: If you don’t create an estate plan, then your assets will be distributed pursuant to the state’s intestate succession laws. This could leave your assets in the hands of someone you don’t trust, or it could just leave your loved ones without the inheritance you intended to give them. Don’t make the mistake of waiting to plan until it’s too late. It’s never too early to start estate planning.
- Only focusing on assets: Sure, a lot of the estate planning process focuses on how your assets will be distributed when the time comes, but that’s not all the process entails. You’ll also want to focus on what will happen to you if you need long-term care or if you become incapacitated. Therefore, you’ll want to focus on creating a power of attorney and a healthcare directive, as well as engage in long-term care planning, if you want to give yourself greater protection as you age.
- Failing to update your plan: Even after you create an estate plan, you’ll want to revisit it from time to time to update it so that it conforms with your current circumstances and your changed needs. For example, if you have a falling out with a loved one or can no longer trust them, then you might want to update your estate plan so that they’re no longer in a position to inherit from you. Also, if you acquire a new and valuable asset, then you might want to specifically address it in your estate plan so that there’s no confusion about how it’s to be disposed of when the time comes.
- Not addressing your final arrangements: If there’s a certain way you’d like your funeral and other final arrangements to play out, then you should specify it in your estate plan. You can do this through a letter of intent that corresponds with your will. If you don’t address your final arrangements, then your loved ones will be left with a lot of work as they try to figure everything out once you’re gone.
- Improperly executing your will: The law requires a very specific process to be followed for a will to be deemed legally valid. If you try to cut corners, then you might set your estate up for legal issues that could result in a distribution that’s counter to your wishes.
Confidently navigate your estate planning
There are a lot of other mistakes that can be made during the estate planning process. You need to know how to avoid all of them if possible. That’s why now is the time to educate yourself so that you can make the fully informed decisions that allow you to confidently move through the estate planning process.