It can be an intimidating road ahead when planning your estate. In a previous article, we showed you what you should include in your estate, and some tips on how to make sure you have your bases covered. This time we’re going to try to help by letting you in on the DONT’S of estate planning, and some common mistakes that you need to steer clear of.
Not Having an Estate Plan
Seems obvious, right? But the number one rule of estate planning is that you establish one in the first place. If you don’t have a plan to put into action when the time comes, your estate and assets go through probate and are handled according to state and local laws. This complicates and lengthens the process. If you have a firm estate plan established, you have more control over what happens to your assets, and leave your loved ones with less of a mess to clean up after you’re gone.
Trying to Do It All Yourself
Estate planning can get complicated. There are many things you have to consider when building your estate plan… things you might not even think about. Insurance policies, multiple bank accounts, businesses, retirement accounts, and so much more, are all things that need to be taken care of in your estate plan. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. It’s imperative you hire an attorney with estate planning expertise to help you. (Check the end of the article for a good place to start!)
Thinking a Will or Living Trust is Enough
Having a will is fantastic. Having a living trust is great. But these are both just parts of a complete estate plan. An estate plan should also, at minimum, include a power of attorney for both finances and healthcare, and an advanced directive. The same goes for a living trust. It is also just a part of your complete estate planning needs. Making sure you’re not relying on just one piece of an estate plan ensures that when the time comes, your estate and probate process can be handled as quickly and simply as possible.
Leaving Your Family in the Dark
Let’s say you have your estate plan established. Now what? It’s time to make sure your family knows their part in your plan. You have to communicate why you made certain decisions and everyone’s role when the time comes. Asset distribution, business decisions, and family roles can all cause issues (and possible litigation) if you don’t explain to your loved ones why you’ve chosen to approach those decisions in the way you have. Executors, beneficiaries, and powers of attorney should all be made aware of their role in your estate plan.