Estate planning is a process that all adults need to tackle. For example, everyone should have advanced medical directives in place in the event of an emergency and a plan for their possessions after they pass away, even if someone perceives the value of their estate as minimal.
Having said that, estate planning is a process that’s unique to each person and can be overwhelming. It’s easy to make mistakes. Below are some of the common mistakes people make when they’re planning their estate. If you’re concerned about your estate-related interests, take care to avoid these missteps and make sure to seek legal guidance generally so that you don’t make other, more nuanced, mistakes that could compromise your legacy.
Not giving instructions on how to distribute their estate
One of the reasons people choose to plan their estate is that they don’t want any surprises that could cause arguments or hurt feelings among loved ones. If you don’t specify how your property should be distributed after you die, this can happen.
This risk can largely be avoided by leaving specific instructions in your will or trust concerning where you want your property to go. Being proactive can help avoid any unnecessary, costly litigation filed by members of the family who feel they weren’t properly accounted for.
Failing to keep your beneficiaries up to date
You can say with almost certainty that your life won’t look the same when you’re in your later years as it did when you reached the age of majority. If you don’t update your estate to reflect major life changes, this misstep can result in your possessions passing to someone other than your intended beneficiary.
For example, if you separate but don’t divorce from your ex-husband, he may still be entitled to your entire estate when you pass away if you don’t draft a new will. This may mean that your children miss out as a result.
Not taking advantage of the benefits offered by trusts
You can utilize trusts to avoid probate after you pass away. Any assets that you name in a specific kind of living trust can still be enjoyed by you throughout your lifetime and passed directly to your beneficiary upon your death.
Estate planning can be a daunting process to undertake. Having some help from a legal professional in understanding what’s right for you and your family is going to be key to making sure you have everything you need in place.