Once you’ve decided to create an estate plan to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes after your death, the plan should provide you with peace of mind and prevent problems for your family. However, you can only achieve these estate planning goals if you avoid mistakes.
12 Estate Planning Mistakes You Want to Avoid
While each estate plan is unique, there are some common mistakes most people should avoid, including:
- Waiting too long to create a will. No one wants to think about dying. Creating a will and a comprehensive estate plan is probably not at the top of the list of things you want to do. However, accidents happen and your health can change suddenly. Therefore, it is better to be prepared, so your spouse, children, and other loved ones are cared for in the way you want them to be if anything happens to you.
- Failing to update your will after major life changes. Creating an estate plan is not a one-time activity. Your plan may need to be updated periodically to reflect life changes such as marriages, birth or adoption of children or grandchildren, deaths of loved ones, newly acquired property, or a significant change in assets.
- Not planning for heirs with disabilities. If you plan to provide for a child or another heir who cannot manage their own money, you may want to consider special estate planning tools such as a spendthrift trust.
- Choosing an executor who can’t do the job. An executor must have integrity and be willing to fulfill their fiduciary duty. You may choose someone who isn’t up to the job.
- Failing to fund a trust. Revocable or living trusts must be funded to be of any use to your estate plan. If you fail to transfer property or asset ownership to the trust, the property or assets must go through probate rather than be distributed from the trust.
- Failing to consider different types of trusts. Different trusts have different tax implications and can serve your heirs in different ways.
- Naming a single beneficiary. If that beneficiary dies before you and no alternative beneficiary is named, your property may not pass according to your wishes.
- Forgetting about your digital assets. What will happen to your social media accounts and other online accounts after your death? These things may hold little or no monetary value for your heirs, but they may need to be protected after you’re gone.
- Not understanding your plan. Estate plans can be complicated. It’s important to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer who will explain your plan and help you understand the consequences of your estate planning decisions.
- Not telling anyone where to find your will and estate planning documents. You may, for example, keep these documents in a fireproof safe in your home where no one else has access.
- Trying to draft your own estate plan. Louisiana law allows for many estate planning tools. You don’t know what you don’t know, and you may end up making a mistake if you don’t work with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
- Failing to plan for your own incapacity or disability. Medical and healthcare powers of attorney, advance directives, and disability insurance may be essential parts of your estate plan. Without these documents and insurance, your own wishes may not be honored if you are hurt or become sick and can’t take care of your financial obligations, make healthcare decisions, or earn an income.
An Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help You Prevent Mistakes and Protect Your Family
You don’t need to know all the answers. You just need to know that you want to protect your loved ones and take control of how your property will be distributed. Contact an experienced Louisiana estate planning lawyer for help that you can trust. We will develop a plan that is right for you. Call us, or contact us through our website today to learn more.