Every adult should have an estate plan in place. When contemplating or creating your estate plan, however, you also want to avoid making common mistakes because a poorly drafted plan can do more harm than good. Toward that end, the Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law explain five mistakes you can avoid making when creating your estate plan.
Creating Your Estate Plan: Mistakes To Avoid
- Procrastinating. Most people understand that having an estate plan in place is important; however, many of them procrastinate when it comes to creating that plan. Along with feeling intimidated by the entire concept of estate planning, the other common reasons people fail to get started with an estate plan is that they believe they need to have a valuable estate first and/or need to reach a magic place in their life, such as marriage or parenthood. The truth though is that every adult can benefit from having at least a basic plan in place. Conversely, every adult can be at a distinct disadvantage by not having a plan in place in the event of an untimely accident or illness.
- DIY planning. Given the ease with which legal documents can be found online, it can be tempting to use them to save both time and money. When it comes to estate planning, however, any time and money you may save using DIY documents now will likely cost your loved ones considerably more when it comes time to use those documents. DIY Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents are frequently riddled with mistakes and errors that lead to costly litigation. Instead of putting your loved ones through that, work with an experienced estate planning attorney when you create your estate plan.
- Ignoring the possibility of incapacity. This can be a fatal flaw within an estate plan. A Will allows you to dictate what will happen to your estate assets in the event of your death; however, the terms of your Will do not help in the event of your incapacity. Who will handle your finances and manage your assets if you are incapacitated? Who will make healthcare decisions for you and/or day-to-day decisions on your behalf? Without an incapacity plan, a judge may have to decide who steps into those roles.
- Choosing the wrong fiduciaries. Choosing the wrong fiduciary is another common mistake. People frequently name a spouse, best friend, or family member to be the Executor of their estate and/or the Trustee of a trust based solely on their long-standing relationship with the individual. Instead, appoint someone who is suited to the position and who has the skills and/or experience to fulfill the role. The Executor of your estate will need to devote a decent amount of time to probate during a time when he/she is also grieving your loss. A Trustee will need at least a basic understanding of applicable laws and financial strategies that are necessary to successfully administer the trust. Make sure you understand what the position entails and then choose the best person for the job.
- Failing to review and revise. Having an out-of-date estate plan is often as problematic – if not more so – than not having a plan at all in the event of your death or incapacity. Failing to update your plan could leave an ex-spouse in control of decision-making for you if you become incapacitated, hand a large sum of money to a beneficiary with addiction or mental health issues, or result in an endless list of other intended consequences. To prevent unwanted outcomes, be sure to update your estate plan on a regular basis.
Contact Our Coral Gables Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE webinar. If you have additional questions or concerns about estate planning, contact the experienced Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law by calling (305) 456-3255 to schedule an appointment.
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