When it comes to estate planning, avoiding mistakes is just as important as using the right tools and strategies to build your plan. While many of the most common mistakes can be corrected, if you wait too long, your loved ones could be forced to deal with an estate plan that does not accurately reflect your wishes.
With this in mind, what mistakes do you need to avoid? Or, what mistakes might you need to correct in your estate plan?
Mistake #1: Not Preparing an Estate Plan
The first mistake you need to avoid is failing to prepare an estate plan. Too often, people put this off, assuming that it won’t be necessary to have an estate plan until they get older. But, unexpected events happen; and, if something happens to you, you will need to have a plan in place.
Mistake #2: Omitting Key Documents from Your Estate Plan
A comprehensive estate plan will include several key documents. These include not only your Will but a Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Proxy, a “Living Will,” and perhaps one or more trusts. In order to ensure that your estate plan addresses all necessary issues, you need to make sure it includes all necessary documents.
Mistake #3: Not Updating Your Estate Plan
There are several events that may necessitate updates to your estate plan. If your wishes change, you will want to update your estate plan promptly. Likewise, if someone you named as a Beneficiary, Executor, or Trustee predeceases you, you will want to update your plan to make all necessary changes.
Mistake #4: Not Naming “Contingent” Beneficiaries and Representatives
When preparing an estate plan, naming “contingent” beneficiaries and representatives can help avoid the issue of your estate plan requiring unnecessary court intervention or becoming outdated. A contingent beneficiary or representative is someone who is “second inline” in case your first choice predeceases you or is unavailable or unwilling to serve.
Mistake #5: Incorrectly Titling Real Estate
Your estate planning documents will not necessarily control the distribution of all of your assets after your death. There are a number of possible exceptions, including any real estate that you own. As a result, when titling real estate, it is important to keep your estate planning goals in mind. If you need to make a change, this is something that can be done fairly easily.
Mistake #6: Failing to Fund Your Revocable Living Trust
If you establish a revocable living trust as the primary tool for distributing your assets after death, you will need to ensure that your trust is “funded” appropriately. If you do not ensure that your assets are placed into the trust, then the trust will not serve its purpose after your death.
Mistake #7: Failing to Discuss Your Estate Plan with Your Family
Finally, once you have a plan in place, it is important to discuss your plan with your family. Make sure the appropriate family members know where they can find your estate planning documents, and make sure your chosen Executor, Trustee, and Guardian are willing and able to serve in their respective roles.
Discuss Your Estate Planning Needs with Attorney Fred Eisman
Do you have estate planning questions? If so, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a confidential initial consultation with estate planning attorney Fred Eisman, please call 914-864-3355 or inquire online today.