A properly drafted and executed estate plan is a priceless gift you can give yourself and your family. Ideally, your estate plan should protect and provide for you and your loved ones, both while you are alive and after you are gone. Unfortunately, there are several common – and avoidable — mistakes people make when it comes to estate planning. To help make sure you and your family are protected, the Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law discuss common estate planning mistakes and how to make sure you do not make them.
- Not Planning. One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the need for estate planning is the idea that you need to reach a certain point in your life, or you need to achieve a certain material success before you need an estate plan. You will likely build on your basic estate plan throughout the years; however, every adult should have at least a basic estate plan in place. A basic plan prevents you from leaving behind an intestate estate should something happen to you and lets you decide who will oversee the probate of your estate.
- Appointing the Wrong Fiduciaries. Your estate plan will probably include several fiduciary positions. The Executor of your estate, the Trustee of a trust, and an Agent in a Power of Attorney are all examples. While your initial thought may be to appoint a spouse, friend, or family member to one of these positions based solely on the fact that you trust that person, take some time to think about the duties and responsibilities of the position before making your final choice.
- Forgetting to Plan for Incapacity. Incapacity is not something you only have to worry about when you’re older. If you become incapacitated, who will make personal and healthcare decisions for you and who will take over control of your assets and finances? Without an incapacity plan, a judge may be the one answering those questions.
- Not Consulting an Attorney. In today’s electronic age, it is tempting to turn to the internet for everything, including legal forms. It may seem as though you are saving both time and money using estate planning forms that you find online. In the long run, however, you will probably cost your loved ones considerably more time and money than you saved. Moreover, you and your assets may not be protected while you are alive.
- Failing to Review and Revise Your Estate Plan. Your estate plan is not something you should create and then forget about if you want a plan that works. As you grow and change, so should your plan. Routine reviews should occur on a regular basis. In addition, specific life events may prompt a more immediate revision of your estate plan.
- Failing to Explain Your Plan. When beneficiaries and/or heirs are surprised about the terms of an estate plan, their first reaction is often to contest the Will or otherwise initiate litigation. Discussing the basic terms of your plan with beneficiaries is one way to decrease the likelihood of disputes. If you are concerned that explaining your plan now might cause family discord, drafting a “Letter of Instruction” is another option. A Letter of Instructions is simply a letter that you include with your estate plan that includes additional information not found elsewhere in your plan.
Contact 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, or you are ready to get started on your plan, contact the experienced Coral Gables estate planning attorneys at Stivers Law by calling (305) 456-3255 to schedule an appointment.
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