If you have made the wise decision of establishing an estate plan, it is important you do it right. Some of the most common mistakes people make in the estate planning process include:
- Failing to update upon divorce: The dissolution of your marriage will likely render at least part of your estate plan no longer adequate. Remarriage will almost certainly do so. Make sure you have your will, trusts and other estate planning documents reviewed and updated so they reflect your present-day priorities.
- Failing to update beneficiary designations: Even if your will is up to date, you must update beneficiary designations for certain assets such as retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance. Failure to do so could result in depriving a loved one of assets while benefiting a person who is no longer in your life.
- Giving the wrong person power of attorney: Your power of attorney should be someone you can trust to handle your affairs and make decisions on your behalf, even in the face of conflict. This person should not only be trustworthy, but also assertive and a good communicator. It also helps if they are local, as this is a very hands-on position and may require close communication with medical and financial institutions where you live.
- Signing without understanding: Many people make the mistake of placing blind trust in their estate planning attorney to the point of signing whatever documents are placed before them. The language of your estate planning documents should be a direct translation of your wishes. A good estate planning lawyer will make sure you understand in plain language the various elements of your plan. Before putting pen to paper, make sure you know exactly the plan you are putting into effect.
By carefully avoiding certain mistakes, you can rest assured that your estate plan truly reflects your wishes and will spare your loved ones from unnecessary uncertainty and conflict.